This is the depth of the relationship Accorsi has had with the team, with the Mara and Tisch families, and when he told them last year that he was contemplating retirement after this 2005 season, both Wellington Mara and Bob Tisch urged him to change his mind.
Mara died on Oct. 25; Tisch died three weeks later. But those who are
now in charge, John K. Mara and Steven and Jonathan Tisch, met with
Accorsi a few days ago and repeated their fathers' feelings.
"I have decided to come back for next year," he said, "and I would
like to keep this going on a year-by-year basis. I love this job and the
sport. Of course, game day makes me crazy, but that's all part of it."
Accorsi privately told friends prior to the start of the 2004 season
that he was going to retire, but then changed his mind when coach Jim Fassel was dismissed and the man he wanted, Tom Coughlin, was hired.
That was the year he pulled off the blockbuster draft-day trade with
San Diego that netted quarterback Eli Manning, the first overall draft
pick that spring, and the deal has looked increasingly more successful
with each game. Manning is the Giants' starter and, at the age of 25,
could have 10 solid years ahead of him.
Accorsi also parlayed the unrestricted free agent market in the
spring of 2005 into a bonanza of veteran starters. He signed offensive
tackle Kareem McKenzie from the New York Jets, wide receiver Plaxico Burress and defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy from the Pittsburgh Steelers, middle linebacker Antonio Pierce from the Washington Redskins,
and kicker Jay Feely from the Atlanta Falcons.
He also signed veteran free agent Bob Whitfield, a 13-year former Pro
Bowl offensive tackle, from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The draft - and he had only four picks remaining after the attrition
created by the Manning trade - produced cornerback Corey Webster,
defensive end Justin Tuck, running back Brandon Jacobs and defensive
end/linebacker Eric Moore.
"We needed to get our salary cap under control," he said, "and once
we did, and with help from Tom and his expertise, I think we found a few
helpful veterans out there."
SERIES HISTORY: 11th meeting. The Giants hold a 7-3 series lead over
the Seahawks. They have won four of the last five meetings, most
recently in 2002, a battle of field goals that ended 9-6. A 1986 loss,
17-12 in Seattle, marked one of only two defeats the Giants would suffer
that year, on their way to the Super Bowl XXI championship.
--Punter Jeff Feagles will set a longevity record when he kicks his
first ball Sunday. It will be his 282nd consecutive appearance, one more
than defensive end Jim Marshall of the Minnesota Vikings. "It's more a
tribute to longevity and staying in condition," Feagles said. "I work
very hard at keeping my legs in shape. Part of it, I'm sure, is
genetics. But I do everything I can to help out."
--Middle linebacker Antonio Pierce, commenting on Seattle's star
running back, Shaun Alexander, was properly respectful. "He's running
harder, and it looks like he's running downhill most of the time," he
said. "Defenses have sent linebackers up front to join the defensive
linemen and hope to cut him off."
--It should be an interesting battle of immovable force and
irresistible object. The Giants are second in the NFC in defense against
the rush, while Seattle is second in the NFC in rushing offense. "Even a
team as solid as the Seahawks," defensive end Michael Strahan said, "can
be made off-balance if you take away the running game. That's our goal."
--Giants' reserve quarterback Tim Hasselbeck was modeling a
custom-sewn jersey, half Giants and half Seahawks. It is probable that
his brother, Seahawks starting QB Matt Hasselbeck, will be modeling the
other half. "It's really the first time we've all been together for
Thanksgiving," Tim said, albeit a few days later. "Family is coming in
from all over."
--Quarterback Eli Manning has 18 touchdown passes and only nine
interceptions, but he is seventh in the NFL in fourth-quarter passing,
completing 53 of 90 attempts for 754 yards and five TDs. "It's all part
of getting smarter, getting more experienced and learning the rhythm of
the game," he said. "These games now, late in the season, are more
important. All of them from here on are big games, and we can't wait
until the fourth quarter." Perhaps they should: The Giants have
outscored opponents 87-36 in the fourth quarter.
--Left tackle Bob Whitfield, the 34-year-old veteran of 13 seasons,
came in for Luke Petitgout last week when the starter left with a
bruised knee. "It felt good to be able to get some hits in," he smiled.
"You know, a little push here, a block here and there, things veterans
have learned how to do."
--DE Osi Umenyiora, who leads the Giants with eight sacks, says that
number needs to come up fast. "The Seahawks have like 30-something (it's
34)," he said. "We need to put more and more pressure on the
quarterbacks these last games."
--SS Brent Alexander, another 34-year-old, feels this season is going
to turn into something special for the Giants. "We have a great mix of
experience and youth," he says. "We help them get better fast, and they
keep us on our toes."
BY THE NUMBERS: 69 - Despite completing 28 more passes than the
Giants, the Seahawks have gained only 69 more passing yards - and that
includes a 42-yarder from reserve Seneca Wallace, whose season totals
are one attempt, one completion and 42 yards.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Have you played cornerback in this league?" - Giants
head coach Tom Coughlin, responding to a reporter who was critical of
Curtis Deloatch's performance last week against Philadelphia, which
included two pass-interference penalties.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
There might three changes in the starting lineup for the Giants:
--LT Luke Petitgout (knee) is listed as questionable, although he did
practice Wednesday; if he can't make it, veteran Bob Whitfield gets the
--C Shaun O'Hara (ankle sprain) did not practice and is listed as
questionable; Jason Whittle steps in for him if he can't go.
--RCB Curtis Deloatch, who earned the starting job by default when
Will Peterson suffered a back injury (stress fracture of the transverse
process), may himself be relegated to a backup role. He suffered a turf
burn infection and was taken to a hospital for an overnight stay for
observation and I.V. fluid intake. If he can't play, it will be rookie
Corey Webster on the firing line.
GAME PLAN: The old saw - "We have to stop the running game first" -
may sound more pretentious than plausible when considering Seattle's
Shaun Alexander. He leads the NFL in rushing with 1,229 yards and with
his 19 touchdowns.
"Even somebody as great as Alexander," Giants LDE Michael Strahan
said, "can be slowed down, if not stopped. That's our job. It may not be
easy, but I don't think we'll lay down and let him run all over us,
Assuming Alexander can at least be relegated to the "normal" category
for one week, the Giants have an advantage since the passing game will
be without star wideout Darrell Jackson (knee). The Seahawks' top
receiver is journeyman Bobby Engram, who starts along with former Giant
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
--Giants LDE Michael Strahan vs. Seahawks RT Sean Locklear. Strahan
has 7.5 sacks this season, and the 13-year veteran goes up against a
second-year tackle in Locklear, who has been the weak link of an
otherwise good offensive line.
--Giants RB Tiki Barber vs. the middle of the Seattle defense, namely
tackles Chuck Darby and Marcus Tubbs and MLB Lofa Tatupu. Barber is a
quick starter with great initial speed and can slip through the
slightest seam in the line. Tatupu is the leading tackler on the team
and has 3.5 sacks.
--Giants RCB Curtis Deloatch vs. Seahawks WR Bobby Engram. Deloatch
had a sad game against the Eagles, including two pass-interference calls
and a TD pass, while Engram is the leading Seattle receiver (with an
injury to Darrell Jackson opening that door).
INJURY IMPACT: The Giants may be without LT Luke Petitgout, C Shaun
O'Hara and RCB Curtis Deloatch, as well as SLB Reggie Torbor (hernia
surgery) and TE Jeremy Shockey (bruised chest). In all likelihood,
however, the only one seriously in jeopardy of not playing is O'Hara.
Inside Slant, Notes, Quotes, Personnel, Etc.
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