PHOENIX (AP) -Motivation or much ado about nothing?
For the Giants, Plaxico Burress' guarantee that New York will beat the New England Patriots 23-17 in the Super Bowl Sunday is nothing more than an outspoken player showing confidence.
For the Patriots and MVP Tom Brady, it's a Super-sized diss, and bulletin board material.
``We're only going to score 17 points?'' a surprised Brady said Wednesday. ``OK. Is Plax playing defense? I wish he had said 45-42 and gave us a little credit for scoring more points.''
The Giants were quick to defend Burress, whose history of talking out of turn dates to his days at Michigan State.
Before a game against Michigan, he was so confident in his ability that he said it would be like taking candy from a baby.
After 15 years of dealing with the New York media, seven-time Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan wondered what all the fuss was about.
``Now, you ask a question of 'Do you think you are going to win the game?''' Strahan said. ``What am I supposed to say 'No, we are going to lose the game'? No, I think we are going to win the game just like they think they are going to win the game. No one comes here thinking that you are not going to be victorious.''
Osi Umenyiora, the bookend on the other side of the Giants' defensive line, had no problem with Burress.
``That's just positive thinking and positive mentality,'' Umenyiora said. ``If it happens, it happens, and if it doesn't happen, nobody expected us to win anyway, so it doesn't really matter.''
By New York standards, Burress' prediction really isn't among the best in Big Apple sports history.
It comes nowhere close to Joe Namath's guarantee that the New York Jets would beat the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl in 1969.
Nor does it match Mark Messier's guarantee that the New York Rangers would beat the New Jersey Devils in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals in 1994, the season the Blueshirts won the Stanley Cup.
``It's all entertainment,'' Burress said after arriving 33 minutes late for the team's press availability. ``Look at how this has made national headlines. I've always been a confident player and I'll always be that way and will continue to be that way. What we have done up to this point really doesn't matter. All we can do is go out there and try and do our thing.''
The problem was that the Patriots didn't seem to be entertained, and the prediction that New England would only score 17 points bugged Brady.
The Patriots set an NFL record scoring 589 points and Brady's 50 touchdown passes were also a new mark. Receiver Randy Moss broke Jerry Rice's record with 23 TD catches and New England has not scored fewer than 20 points in its 18 wins this season.
``I learned a lesson early in my career: No matter what you say during the week - and God knows we say a lot this week - we're going to be focused on going out and winning this game,'' Brady said. ``We're confident, but I don't think we share our thoughts with everybody.''
The Patriots, who beat the Giants 38-35 in the regular-season finale, may not share their thoughts, but they speak loudly on the field.
Earlier this season, Steelers defensive back Anthony Smith guaranteed that Pittsburgh would end New England's perfect season after 12 straight wins.
Brady threw four touchdown passes in a 34-13 thrashing.
Days before the AFC title game, San Diego defensive end Igor Olshansky said the Chargers were unstoppable. New England stopped them, 21-12.
``Plaxico is a hell of a player,'' Brady said. ``If he feels that way, I think that's great. I'd hate for him to think he's going to lose this game. It's obvious nobody does.''
Told about Brady's reaction to that score, Burress said he wasn't disrespecting anyone.
``I'm not taking anything away from what those guys accomplished,'' he said. ``They set all the records you could possibly imagine. They have a great quarterback, the MVP, who threw for a record (50) touchdowns. Randy set a TD record for catches. They had two receivers with over 100 catches.
``The numbers don't lie about what they have done.''
Moss said Burress, who said he was late because he was having breakfast with his family, was entitled to his opinion.
``But the only thing about a prediction is that you have got to make it happen,'' he said.
That brings us back to Michigan State and Burress' junior year.
Remember that 'taking candy from a baby' comment?
Well, Burress went out the following weekend and caught 10 passes for a school-record 255 yards and a touchdown in a 34-31 win over Michigan.
By the way, Michigan made the game close, getting two late touchdown passes from someone named Tom Brady.
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