Backup QB Jason Garrett looking for fourth Super Bowl

Jason Garrett has been to three Super Bowls and has as many rings. Yet he has never played a down.

That's what being a backup quarterback is all about. Sometimes you just stand there and watch.

Garrett has made a career of it, and that's what he'll be doing for the New York Giants next Sunday in the Super Bowl, unless Kerry Collins gets hurt.

``That's why I'm here,'' Garrett said. ``This is Kerry's team. I'm here just in case they need me.''

Collins has been unbelievably durable this season. He has started every game and taken almost every snap, limiting Garrett to two mop-up appearances in the regular season and one in the playoffs.

What makes the 34-year-old Garrett more noticeable this week is what the Baltimore Ravens have done to opposing quarterbacks in the playoffs.

Oakland starter Rich Gannon bruised a shoulder being sacked by Tony Siragusa in the first half of last week's AFC title game, and eventually had to be replaced. The previous week, Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair missed some time after being hit in the second quarter.

Garrett, who went to the Super Bowl three times with Dallas, said none of that has changed his approach to the game.

``I like to think my preparation every week is for that scenario,'' said the former Princeton quarterback. ``You try to do what you have to do to get physically ready, spending time with the game plan, watching film and getting yourself as ready as possible.''

The one thing the backup never gets is many snaps in practice.

Garrett got a few this past week to prepare for the Super Bowl, but it wasn't the same amount he would normally take in a bye week.

Coach Jim Fassel even admitted Garrett took more than he intended because the Giants accidentally ran the same set twice.

Even if he didn't get any work, Garrett probably wouldn't complain. He's a team player. He always has been.

That's what attracted the Giants to him in the offseason, when they released Kent Graham and went looking for a backup for Collins.

``There were never any questions,'' Garrett said. ``There was never any worry about there being a quarterback controversy.''

Garrett has made nine starts in eight seasons, but what the Giants noticed was that he posted a 6-3 record. Among the victories was a 31-7 decision over the Giants two years ago, when Garrett passed for 224 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown strike to Billy Davis.

``Red is the best,'' Giants wide receiver Ike Hilliard said of Garrett. ``He knows the system inside-out. Last week, he orchestrated a 12-minute drive. Not putting anything bad on Kerry, but we'll be OK.''

Garrett had his longest outing of the season in the Giants' 41-0 win over Minnesota in the NFC title game. His only drive lasted the final 12:53 and ended with him taking a knee three times. He completed one pass for four yards.

Raised by a football coach who was once an assistant with the Giants, Garrett hopes to get into the coaching business. He admits he spent a lot of years picking the brain of Cowboys starter Troy Aikman and learning from coaches like Jimmy Johnson and Norv Turner.

He's also enjoyed the experience of being a backup and winning the Super Bowl.

``A lot of people talk about the rings,'' Garrett said. ``I talk about the feeling of being around those teammates and coaches, going through the highs and lows of a season and what we accomplished together.''

He'd like to talk about that feeling next week, too, whether he plays or stands on the sidelines again.