Fun to watch. Fun to listen to. Fun to root for.
They aren't going to be a team that sends fans into frenzied flurries of chat-room vitriol. They aren't going to force loyalists into late-night therapy sessions on talk radio.
This is going to be a fun season.
(Well, as long as you shelve three letters from your consciousness: PSL.)
Are the Giants going to lose football games? Of course the Giants are going to lose football games.
But the 2008 Giants possess two qualities that are difficult to come by. They are schooled in the NFL's formula for survival – believe in yourself, believe in teammates, believe in hard work – that rescues teams from inevitable periods of adversity. And they are free from the typical burden of expectation that accompanies defending Super Bowl champs.
Almost nobody expects the Giants to repeat. And so, as repulsed as they'd be to hear it, the Giants are playing with a stack of house money that would make Doyle Brunson proud.
But the fun part really expresses itself in their roster. It's going to be fun watching Eli Manning continue his ascension into the stratosphere of NFL quarterbacks.
It's going to be fun watching Brandon Jacobs run over exasperated defensive backs and smile about it afterward. It's going to be fun watching Ahmad Bradshaw slide off defenders and wind up inches from the ground before regaining his balance on the way to long gains.
It's going to be fun watching Derrick Ward try to stay off the injury list, knowing there's plenty of backup if he goes down again. It's going to be fun watching left tackle David Diehl play every game because that's what he's done for each of his five seasons, and just as much fun watching his crazy brothers on the O-line.
It's going to be fun watching Chris Snee become a Pro Bowler and Shaun O'Hara drop defensive tackles as adeptly as he drops one-liners to the awaiting media mass.
It's going to be fun watching Justin Tuck run through and around offensive linemen before sending quarterbacks to the turf. Even if it won't be much fun for opposing quarterbacks, right Derek Anderson?
It's going to be fun watching Kenny Phillips take out receivers and Aaron Ross and Corey Webster lock them down.
You get the picture. Fun.
And the Giants get the picture. They didn't just win the Super Bowl. They understand exactly what it took for them to win the Super Bowl.
Some teams win it mainly on raw talent. The Colts had the most talent when they won it a season earlier. The Patriots had the most talent in two of their last three Super Bowl-winning seasons, the exception when they upset St. Louis in Super Bowl XXXVI.
The Giants won it without the most talent. They won it because they had the strongest mental approach.
And by all indications, the 2008 Giants look a lot like the 2007 Giants.
You think Tuck will grow complacent? Manning? Umenyiora? O'Hara? Snee? Amani Toomer? How about Antonio Pierce? You think he's going through the motions? Me either.
And even without Michael Strahan, whose presence will be undoubtedly missed, there remains a terrific group of players to show the way. In fact, you can argue that these Giants will field a stronger pool of leaders with players such as Manning and Tuck becoming Pro Bowl-caliber players.
Then there are a whole bunch of teammates trying to make a name for themselves. Guys such as Jay Alford and Kevin Boss and Danny Clark and Michael Johnson and Domenik Hixon and Gerris Wilkinson and Mathias Kiwanuka, who got hurt just as he was starting to understand his new position.
Giants beat writers came away with a similar impression of training camp: BOR-ING. Just the way the Giants and their coaches love it. Just the way fans should love it.
The only episode that resembled a distraction was Plaxico Burress' request for a new contract. And that was nothing. Burress exhibited patience and made sure to stay off the back page. He'll get his contract and the team will get his production.
By the time the Giants hit Albany, Jeremy Shockey was a memory. There were no holdouts, trade demands or signs of comfort. Blissfully boring.
Some of the silliest talk in sports comes when folks try to relate teams from the past to teams from the present. Yeah, we know the Giants didn't make the playoffs the season after their past three trips to the Super Bowl. And you know what that has to do with these Giants? Absolutely nothing. So please, I beg you TV people who depend upon stats to fill your air time, shred the post-Super Bowl propaganda. It's about as worthless as those NFC Championship Game tickets Jerry Jones left on each player's stool before the divisional playoff.
The Giants gave us a nice snapshot of their potential in the preseason game against Cleveland. If this thing were a softball game, it would have been called in the second quarter because of the mercy rule. Manning was sharp. The defense was bruising. First team against first team, the Giants led 30-3 a minute into the second quarter. That's a Browns team that won 10 games last season.
Let's be honest, the Giants aren't faced with a typical post-Super Bowl schedule. St. Louis? Cincinnati? San Francisco? Baltimore? Arizona? Carolina?
You just don't know who will emerge as surprise teams in the league. But if I'm a Giants fan, I'll take my chances facing that bunch. They went a combined 35-61 with no playoff appearances in 2007.
Damn right I like the Giants' chances of repeating. They have the formula. They have the team. Let the fun begin.
Kevin Gleason covers the Giants for the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y.
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