Giants respond big-time on 9/11

No matter how hard you tried, you could not put the images of 9/11 out of your head during New York's opening-day pounding of Arizona. Sitting in the press box mere miles from the scene of the disaster four years ago to the day, it was on everyone's mind all game long. On the field, the Giants were ecstatic to make their fans happy and proud.

"We talked about representing our city with pride on this day and we talked about there's no way we were going to even think about anything but winning on this day," head coach Tom Coughlin said.

"I think a lot of that had to do with his belief and this team's belief that this organization is also on the field representing the city," Tiki Barber said. "He put a lot of emphasis on it and I think we played with the kind of pride that New Yorkers have. It is an odd parallel to draw and it is something that is probably not too appropriate, but we believe that we played for the city today."

All week, Coughlin made it a point to remind his players of their opportunity to deliver smiles on a terrible anniversary.

"To win and be able to give the people of New York a win on a day like this, give them some excitement and joy is great," Nick Greisen said. "It was on all of our minds. We gave the people of New York a win."

"This was an extremely important day for the city and I think we all took it to heart," Shaun Williams said.

Coughlin, who captured his 75th regular-season win, wore an FDNY hat on the sideline as a tribute. Of course, the Coughlin family avoided disaster when Coughlin's son, Tim, was able to escape one of the towers.

Coughlin recounts the day's events as if it happened yesterday.

"You can imagine, it was a game plan day (at Jacksonville) and I was engrossed in that not knowing anything that was going on," Coughlin said. "I got a call from my daughter Keli and she said, ‘Dad, do you know what is going on?' Quite frankly, I didn't. She told me about the first tower, and we talked, and then we started monitoring what was going on. Then I became aware what was going on. Our family was totally consumed trying to find out what Tim's status was. Finally my son Brian, who was a law student in Gainesville at the time, was able to get him on the 29th floor as he was going down.

"I had been asking my personal assistant to continue to call even though his phone kept going to voicemail. He finally returned the call when he got down to the first floor, and we had an opportunity to tell him what was going on and to tell him to be careful. The thing that was amazing, we could talk to him from Florida and yet his wife, who was just across the Hudson, she was unable to talk with him. My wife and my daughters were anxiously participating in keeping Andrea up to date."

Coughlin realizes exactly how much of an impact that terrible day still has on the nation.

"We all have personal memories, where we were and how it affected us to whatever extent, on that tragic day," he said. "The way our country rallied around that day and Sept. 11 and the people of New York City, you can't help think about to a great extent the tragedy of what is taking place in New Orleans right now. It is a national tragedy, and our thoughts are kind of divided."

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Is there anyone on the Giants roster – if not the entire league – more deserving of a contract extension than Tiki Barber?

Barber received a two-year extension that will basically ensure he finishes his career exactly where he started it – in New York.

"We've been working on it for a few months," Barber said. "It ensures that I'll be here for the rest of my career and we're excited about it. Just happy to get it done and not have to worry about it anymore."

Barber's current deal will be extended by two years, through 2008. He already was scheduled to make $4.25 million this year and next year. Barber will get a raise of roughly $1.5 million for each of the next two seasons. In 2007 and 2008, Barber will make a total of $11 million.

"This organization has been very loyal to me and I've been very loyal to this organization and it's going to remain that way," Barber said.

Eli Manning sure is glad to have his stud back all locked up.

"Obviously after the season he had last year, we just need to get the ball in his hands," Manning said. "Whether it is throwing the ball to him or handing it off, he just finds ways to make plays. We're going to do everything we can to get him the ball and especially in open space. That is where he really makes people miss and gets good yardage."

Barber, who turned 30 in April, plans to continue doing what he's always done – giving his all to the Giants 100 percent of the time.

"I love this game and love playing for this organization and I would never consider going anywhere else," he said. "This allows me not to. I just wanted to make sure I was a Giant for life."

And well he should be.

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