Ottis delivers on Super promise

Ottis Anderson's Super Bowl guarantee did not become instant legend the way Joe Namath's did. In early January of 1969, Namath told a heckler at the Miami Touchdown Club Dinner that his AFL Jets would conquer the NFL's Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. Three days later, Namath delivered.

About a decade after that, Anderson, a stud halfback who had broken Chuck Foreman's single-season and career rushing records at the University of Miami, boasted to his roommate: "If I ever get to play in a Super Bowl in Florida, I'd win the MVP."

The roommate, fullback Ken Johnson, was drafted in the 11th round by the Giants in 1979. The Giants had the seventh pick in the first round and selected Phil Simms. The eighth pick belonged to the St. Louis Cardinals, who jumped on Anderson.

"I thought I had a chance to go [to the Super Bowl] with the Cardinals," Anderson says today. But while Anderson, then known as O.J., piled up 1,605 rushing yards and the Cardinals beat the Giants twice, St. Louis still finished just 5-11 in his rookie season. And despite four more 1,000-yeard seasons, Anderson would never play a postseason game with the Cardinals, who traded him to the Giants early in the 1986 season.

"I was very fortunate to be traded from St. Louis to the Giants organization," says Anderson, who scored the Giants' final touchdown on a 2-yard run in Super Bowl XXI. That 39-20 victory over Denver in Pasadena made Anderson a champion, but he was no closer to fulfilling his MVP prophecy.

He would carry the ball just twice in the strike season of 1987, but made a resurgence in 1988 when he scored eight touchdowns as the goal-line back and Joe Morris' backup.

"In ‘88, I played well enough to come back in '89 and I had a very good training camp," Anderson said. "Then Joe [broke his foot in the final preseason game] and I played and had a thousand yards and a lot of touchdowns [1,023 yards, 14 TDs]."

Anderson, like many of his teammates, thought that '89 team was the best in football. He was the feature back and the Super Bowl was to be played in Miami. Then Flipper Anderson caught that overtime bomb from Jim Everett in the playoff opener and the Giants were out.

"I thought, ‘There goes my prediction, my dream,' " Anderson said. "Then the Giants drafted Rodney Hampton and I never thought I'd have another chance. I knew, he's a first-round pick; he's going to play. It's just a matter of when."

While Hampton gave the Giants a breakaway threat in 1990, a nagging ankle injury kept him from seizing the full-time job. Bill Parcells kept going back to his bull, his sure thing, and Anderson delivered 784 hard yards and 11 more TDs. And when Hampton fractured his fibula in the first playoff game vs. Chicago, the ball was Anderson's for good.

When the Giants were lining up to kick the winning field goal in the NFC Championship Game in San Francisco, Anderson may have been the only calm one on the sideline.

"Mark Ingram asked me why I wasn't praying, and I told him, ‘It's meant to be. It's my destiny,' " Anderson says.

And it was. Anderson rushed for 102 yards in Super Bowl XXV in Tampa, including a 1-yard TD that capped a 14-play, 75-yard, 9:29 drive to start the second half and gave the Giants a 17-12 lead.

"Can you ever forget it? No you can't," Anderson says when asked to sum up that 1990 ride and stunning victory over the favored Bills. "A lot of Giants fans constantly remind me of how special that victory was, about how unselfish all of the players were."

Anderson retired after the 1992 season and still ranks 17th on the all-time rushing list with 10,273 yards, which indicates he moved the chains well over a thousand times. Today, the 48-year-old father of two grown daughters is part owner of a clothing company, Two Four, which unveiled at Super Bowl XXXIX a line of fan gear named Mooda Chainz.

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