Champion LBs continued to Groh under position

The two newspaper pictures, framed together and hanging on the wall in the head coach's office at the University of Virginia, tell the story of what it was like to be Al Groh in late 1990 and early 1991.

One of the pictures is of Groh's son, Mike, watching his 38-yard field goal attempt split the uprights, his holder already leaping to celebrate Randolph (N.J.) High School's state-championship victory over Montclair.

The other is of Scott Norwood and holder Frank Reich coming to grips with the monumental missed 47-yard field goal that decided Super Bowl XXV, with the Giants' Myron Guyton exulting in the background.

Two kicks. One good. One wide. Both great for Al Groh.

"I saw the poignancy in how the two pictures tell the same story," Groh says, almost 15 years later.

Mike Groh, who went on to play quarterback for Virginia, is now the QBs coach on his father's staff at the ACC school. Back in 1990, Al Groh was the position coach of the vaunted linebackers unit on Bill Parcells' staff.

As he looked around the coach's room in those days, Groh says he had no thoughts that this collection of lieutenants would turn into the Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin, Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel and Al Groh we all know today.

"All of us were the same," Groh remembers. "When you looked around, you just saw a lot of guys doing a good job; a lot of guys driven to think about what had to be done to help us win. There were no egos; nobody was planning on what he was going to do when he was a head coach."

Groh, who succeeded Parcells as the coach of the Jets in 2000 after Belichick resigned during his introductory press conference, explains the dynamics between the two men that helped produce a championship in the 1990 season.

"With Bill [Parcells], it was the ability to get players focused very specifically on exactly what was important in that particular game," Groh says. "Bill Belichick understood exactly how Bill Parcells wanted the defense to look, how he wanted things done. But he was also very creative in his own right."

Parcells' philosophy of never looking past that particular opponent took on a different meaning when the Giants faced the Bills, their final opponent, in Super Bowl XXV.

"It struck me that the day before and the night before the game, nobody in the organization or [especially] the coaches talked about winning the Super Bowl," Groh says. "The only talk was about how to beat Buffalo. The Giants had been to the Super Bowl before and had experience doing this. That helped keep the focus for the players – here are the things you've got to do in the game to beat Buffalo. And because of that, we won a Super Bowl."

As linebackers coach, Groh was blessed with a Hall of Fame talent in Lawrence Taylor, Pro Bowlers in Pepper Johnson and Carl Banks, veterans Gary Reasons, Steve DeOssie, Johnie Cooks, Lawrence McGrew and rookie free agent Bobby Abrams.

That year, the Giants gave up the fewest points in the NFL, 211, which was 28 fewer than the runner-up 49ers. The catalyst, in Groh's view, was LT.

"He had a remarkable thirst for competition," the coach says. "As big a star as he was, it was all about winning. He didn't ever fall into the trap of the star; it was never all about him. It was about winning.

"Phil Simms was the same way. Our two most recognizable players, our two biggest stars, knew it was about the team winning and not about them. That forges the personality of a team. And that's what they did, just by being themselves."

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