Winning never got old for these Giants

Bill Parcells sat at the end of a long table in the media room in the bowels of Giants Stadium on the morning of Oct. 29, 1990, reflecting on the Giants' 21-10 victory over the Redskins a day earlier.

As he ticked off the key plays in the game that had given Big Blue a 7-0 start to what would be a championship season, Parcells noticed a trend developing.

He spoke of Ottis Anderson, 33 years old, and his 92 rushing yards on 24 workhorse carries.

He mentioned Everson Walls, 30, who intercepted Stan Humphries twice, returning the second one 28 yards for the first touchdown of his 10-year career, sealing the victory.

The coach gave props to Johnie Cooks, who was filling in at outside linebacker for the injured Carl Banks. The 31-year-old Cooks, whom Parcells had playfully nicknamed "Dirt" in training camp "because you're older than dirt," made a team-high 10 tackles.

And Parcells acknowledged safety Dave Duerson, a month shy of his 30th birthday, for his blanket man-to-man coverage of dangerous Redskins wide receiver Kelvin Bryant, who had no receptions.

"You could put all those guys out on the porch in rockers," Parcells said with his familiar sly smile. "Having these older players here is just a tremendous comfort to me as a coach. But you have to have the right kind of older player. An old player isn't necessarily good. They can be bad. I think we have the right kind."

In the late '80s and into 1990, the Giants had a knack for finding the right kind of rocking-chair player. General manager George Young and his top lieutenants, director of player personnel Tom Boisture and director of pro personnel Tim Rooney, scooped up numerous players who had been high draft picks and stars with their original teams. Then, Parcells was a master at pinpointing and bringing out the talent that remained in those older bones while harvesting the wealth of experience these players possessed.

The Giants' Super Bowl Oldies roster also included third-string quarterback Matt Cavanaugh, 34, who ran the scout team and was widely praised for his knowledge of the Giants' opponents. There was Lawrence McGrew, 33, a key reserve linebacker and special teamer who was a star for the Patriots throughout the '80s (McGrew died in 2004 at age 46). And of course there was 34-year-old kicker Matt Bahr, who had replaced the injured Raul Allegre in Week 4 and would become an all-time Giants hero.

Parcells, though, was particularly enamored with Anderson.

"I take my hat off to that guy," Parcells said of the guy who would be Super Bowl XXV MVP. "He's trying his butt off. There always seems to be a situation where I want him in there. I want to throw it, I want him to block the blitz. I want to run it, I know he reads the plays right. We're pinned back, I want him in there. We're going in, I want him in there."

And Cooks, the 1982 No. 1 pick of the Colts who came to the Giants during the 1988 season, may well have been the most popular person to appear in That '90 Show.

"Don't you think that Johnie Cooks was a little sick and tired of hearing how much the Giants missed Carl Banks," Parcells asked. "I know going into that game that the guy's got some pride. He felt like he would respond."

All of the Giants' old-timers did in 1990, while also appreciating the contributions of the team's younger brigade.

Stephen Baker, just 26 when he caught the huge touchdown pass just before the half against the Bills in Tampa, recalls one gratifying moment in the aftermath of that 20-19 victory.

"Johnie Cooks and Lawrence McGrew, I remember them thanking us for winning the Super Bowl for them," Baker said. "It's something I'll always remember. I thought we were going to go to numerous Super Bowls. But [to help the older players win one] was a special feeling."

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