The New York Giants were given Christmas Day off but the debate raged on anyway.
Will they play their regulars on Saturday night against the undefeated New England Patriots? Will they rest them, treat this like a final preseason contest and allow the Patriots to roll into history as the first undefeated team in a 16-game schedule?
Do the Giants owe an obligation to the rest of the league simply because the schedule set them against the Patriots in the final game of the season? Does head coach Tom Coughlin owe his players a chance to rest, to allow the minor nicks and bruises to heal and thus prepare them for their first playoff game, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and reportedly scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 5?
"I don't want to be quoted on this at all," says Coughlin, whose bantam rooster approach to almost everything would seem to dictate against the easy way out. Injuries are part of football; perhaps he plans to go all-out and try to prevent the Patriots from entering the record books in Giants Stadium.
Defensive end Osi Umenyiora, the team's only Pro Bowl representative this year, doesn't think the Giants will surrender without a fight.
"We are not going to get much rest," he says with a tight, small smile. "I am sure we are going to go out and attack. This isn't a preseason game. This counts."
But with nothing to gain, with the playoffs already set and the Giants' placement already determined?
"This is a game that counts," he said. "We will play it that way."
Resting starters or not?