Giants coach sees no need to fire up troops

New York Giants head coach Jim Fassel has no plans to deliver a fiery, emotional speech to pump up his team before they take the field for Super Bowl XXXV on Sunday.

He figures the time might be better spent trying to calm his players down ahead of their showdown with the Baltimore Ravens on the NFL's greatest stage.

"All I'll say to them is: It's the big game, the one you always wanted to be in. But the field is still 100 yards long," Fassel said Friday when asked what he would tell his troops when the moment of truth arrives.

"The referees, the rules we're playing and coaching by are the same," he continued. "We've been together a long time. Go play the game, be yourselves. However you've acted to get us here should be good enough if we all play well."

It may not be the stuff of Hollywood screenplays, but Fassel expects his players to be plenty psyched for the biggest game of their lives without his having to further egg them on.

A Super Bowl novice in his fourth year as Giants head coach, Fassel has done his utmost to keep his team's preparation as normal and routine as possible despite the circus-like atmosphere of a week filled with distractions and media obligations. He is pleased with how things have progressed.

"Everything has run very smoothly and that was my biggest concern, not having done this before," he told reporters during his own final mandatory meeting with the media.

"We haven't had any big problems, in fact, we've had no problems. Our team has been very focused. I've been proud of the way they've handled this whole week," he said.


Fassel is trying to remain businesslike, but he got a warning that it would not be all that easy come Sunday from someone with far more Super Bowl experience -- Denver's five-time Super Bowl quarterback and twice champion John Elway.

"He said, 'it will hit you when you walk out of the tunnel, where you are and what's going on,"' Fassel, a former Denver assistant coach, related.

"Right now, I'm just on normal game operations," Fassel said. "I know coming out of that tunnel with this team in the Super Bowl ... will be something I'll always remember."

Elway, who three times denied Ravens owner Art Modell a chance to make it to the Super Bowl when Elway's Broncos beat Modell's Cleveland Browns in AFC title games, told Fassel: "No matter what you've done in your life, this will be indelible in your mind and you will have a tremendous amount of feelings and emotions come out."

Fassel said his players were on their own Friday night, but come Saturday, he says he told them, "You come to that hotel at 6 o'clock and say goodbye to everybody because I want you there, go to your room, relax, get everything off your plate and it's all about the game."

Fassel and Ravens coach Brian Billick have already agreed that when they get together sometime after the game, the winner is buying dinner.

The pair are close friends who usually talk to each other often. Billick has said that one of things he has missed most during his first Super Bowl week as a head coach has been not being able to call Fassel to discuss the situation and preparations for the biggest game of his coaching life.

Fassel was feeling less of a personal void.

"I'd rather be coaching this game than talking to him," Fassel joked. "He's a good friend but not that good a friend."