Shumann's Super Bowl blog: Is Brady hurt?

January 29, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Game on!!! Both the Patriots and the Giants have arrived in Arizona for Super Bowl XLII. Let the hype begin.

All the talk revolves around Patriot QB Tom Brady's right ankle. He was wearing a protective orthopedic boot last week and did not practice with the team. That is no big deal -- Brady knows this offense inside and out. He can watch practice and know what the team is looking for. But where this does affect the team is in the timing of pass routes, that believe it or not, can be altered in only a week's time. Brady told a group of Patriot fans before he left he is fine and will be ready for the biggest game of the season.

Well, his ankle may feel good now, and if there are any lingering problems he will probably shoot up the ankle with pain killers so he can play. But you can be sure that the Giants defensive front will be coming after Brady and his ankle like there's no tomorrow. That's the way this league works. Never let them know you're hurt because if you do, players are gunning for that injury and trying to knock you out of the game. It's not dirty play, it's just a fact of life in the NFL. Brady knows this too, which is probably why he is playing this injury down and taking the attention away from his ankle. We will get an injury report Wednesday and I bet Brady probably won't even be on it.

Best case scenario is that Brady can play and not alter his game due to the injury. Worst case scenario is that Brady gets hit low and re-injures the ankle, and if that happens, the Patriots are in trouble. Not that their backup QB can't get it done, but to come off the bench in a Super Bowl, after not playing at all during the regular season and playoffs, and expect to have any sort of timing with your receivers is tough duty. I would go so far as to say that if Brady gets injured, game over, Giants are your Super Bowl XLII champions. So Brady's ankle will get more attention this week than any body part in the history of the Super Bowl.

Switching gears... when both teams arrive it really hits you that you're playing in the biggest game of your life. Right when you walk off that plane it becomes official, and most players get a little tickle in their throat thinking, 'Wow, this is the Super bowl.'

Most people have heard the famous story of 49er Coach Bill Walsh's greeting of our 1982 team, but I will retell it anyway. Bill had gone to Detroit a few days early to deal with the media and knew that we were so young that it could be overwhelming when we arrived in Detroit for Super Bowl XVI. So he convinced the bellhops at the hotel we were staying at to give him a complete bellhop outfit so he could greet us coming off the bus; hoping to relax us with his little joke. The problem was that after a long flight and arriving in sub-zero weather none of us were used to, all of us just wanted to get to our rooms and not deal with anything.

I was one of the first off the bus and as Coach Walsh went to help me with my bags, I almost forearmed him away thinking it would hold me up to have this old bellhop handle my bags. Well it took about 10 players before anyone recognized that this bellhop was our head coach, and it was Joe Montana that noticed it. He laughed and told Bill he didn't have any money for a tip, and then everyone realized that our head coach was also the bellhop.

Bill told me years later that he couldn't believe he did this and went on to say, "can you imagine Don Shula doing something like this?" (no way) and then said, "if we had lost that game, the media would have buried me for that stunt." Well, I got to my room, still not realizing that Bill was the bellhop I forearmed until we were coming down for our meeting on the elevator and teammate John Ayers said "can you believe Bill was dressed up as a bellhop?" To which I said, "that was Bill? I forearmed him away. Now I'll never get in the game!!!" Well, it worked and we went on to win the first of five Super Bowl titles, and as you all know, there's nothing like the first time you do anything.

Back to Super Bowl XLII. As I mentioned last week, the media days start Tuesday, or the distractions as we liked to call them. The first day is fun, answering questions from all walks of life and media, and getting the attention of being in a Super Bowl. But after a few days of this, you can't wait to get to practice, as that becomes your only break from the Super Bowl madness. And every year they play this game, the media gets bigger and bigger. I tell people that in Super Bowl XVI the coin toss was the pre-game show since we didn't have all the hoopla that surrounds this game now.

The Patriots will be getting most of the attention due to their date with perfection in their quest to go 19-0. So this will work in the Giants favor as they can play the underdog role and say we have no chance, it's all about New England. This is what you want with a young team and that's the way Bill Walsh played it against the favored Bengals in Super Bowl XVI. He managed to take most of the pressure off of us and that's huge in a game like this.

So look for dumb quotes from dumb questions in the next few days as the hype builds for Super Bowl XLII. Tom Brady is going for his fourth Super Bowl title, trying to match Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana as the only QBs to win four.

Tomorrow we will talk about these recent comparisons of Joe Montana and Tom Brady as super star QBs. There are a lot of similarities and we will compare and contrast. Let the hype begin!!!

Mike Shuman, Super Bowl XVI Champion