As much as he would like to thank the New York Giants by leading them to a Super Bowl win, Kerry Collins doesn't need a Super Bowl championship ring to feel good about himself.
The New York Giants quarterback said Friday that he's already turned around his once alcohol-plagued life, and the result of next Sunday's Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens won't affect it.
For Collins, winning would be a great way to say thanks to the Giants for giving him a second chance.
``Football is very important to me,'' Collins said after New York held a 90-minute workout at Giants Stadium. ``It's a big part of my life, but I'm just happy the way things are going off the field.
``Football is not a barometer of whether you are a good person or whether you win or don't win. That's something we can all lose sight of very rapidly in this business.''
Collins has come a long way since the Giants took a gamble on him a little less than two years ago when his career was in tatters.
He had been run out of Carolina and New Orleans and accused of being a racist, a quitter and having a drinking problem.
``I'm proud. I'm proud. I'm proud where I'm at,'' Collins said. ``I went through a rough stretch a few years back. Alcohol was a big part of my life at the time, maybe too much a part of my life.
``My story is if you can change and do things the right way, good things will happen to you. I think I am living proof of that.''
The Super Bowl is going to be an interesting matchup.
The Ravens set an NFL record for fewest points allowed (165) in a season. They have given up just 16 in three playoff games.
Collins is coming into the game off his best performance as a pro. He completed 28 of 39 passes for 381 yards and five touchdowns in the Giants' 41-0 victory over Minnesota in the NFC title game.
There is no comparing Minnesota's defense with Baltimore's. One is horrible and the other might be the best ever in football.
Patience becomes a necessity, Collins said.
``Against a defense like this, punting is not bad,'' Collins said. ``You go through all the games they play and you see the interceptions and fumble after fumble. They are so good at forcing turnovers and getting the ball out. Our goal is to kick the ball, extra points, field goals or a punt.''
Don't be fooled, however. The Giants aren't going to be ultraconservative and run the ball every down. They will take shots at the Ravens, just like they did in beating the Eagles in the NFC semifinal.
Against Philadelphia, the game plan called for the Giants to take care of the ball, avoid sacks and losses and take advantage of opportunities.
``I think this will be a similar type game,'' Collins said. ``But at the same time, if you just try and sit back and be conservative this defense will just kill you. We're going to do things that we do well and we'll see what happens.''
The one thing the Giants need to do is protect Collins. They can't allow the Ravens to knock him out of the game, something Baltimore did in its last two playoffs games with Rich Gannon of Oakland and Steve McNair of Tennessee.
Gannon hurt his shoulder when Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa drove him into the ground.
Collins saw the play on television and winced. He said the play reminded him of a person walking down the street and having a piano fall on his head.
``They get after the quarterback,'' Collins said. ``Certainly I expect to be hit.''
Collins is also confident his line will protect him.
There was only one Monday morning this season when he felt any pain.
If that happens a week from Monday, Collins will not only have the comfort of knowing he has turned around his life, he'll also likely have the ring to go along with it.