INDIANAPOLIS — Having the Pro Bowl last week cost numerous Patriots and Giants a nice vacation.
"As professional athletes, we can afford the trip any time we want it. We're fortunate in that way," said Patriot Logan Mankins. "Hawaii is a great time. You get to party it up with the guys, but I wouldn't trade this for anything."
In 2009, the NFL moved the Pro Bowl from the week after the Super Bowl to the week before it. After a one-year move to Miami, it was returned to Hawaii this winter.
In years past, Super Bowl participants often used the Pro Bowl as a celebration week. Now, that can't happen.
"In any other circumstances, I'd be disappointed," said Patriots first-time selection Matt Slater. "But there's nothing like competing with my teammates for a title. The way they have it now is good, but I'm more happy about the honor and happy about being here."
Media Sandbagging 101
Contrary to popular belief, there is no "official" New England Patriots course on sandbagging the media.
The Patriots remain at the top of the NFL heap when it comes to giving the media sound bites that say absolutely nothing.
Like everything else associated with the team, Patriots coach Bill Belichick covers every detail imaginable.
"At every team meeting, there's a progression of themes for the week that are passed along," said Larry Izzo, the former Patriots special teams captain now coaching with the Giants. "He goes over those themes for the week. It's not this is what you have to do or say. It's just that, you're dealing with the media, let's not talk about this, let's not talk about that. When it comes to ... then shut the (bleep) up."
Week to week, situations changed.
"We didn't get a script or anything, but some weeks there were more details than others," said Izzo. "I think it's very important for a head coach to address it. Distractions are distractions. You have to address those things to win."
How does this happen?
Gerard Warren is no Ross Ventrone. Far from a journeyman, Warren, 33, is a former first-round pick with 12 seasons in.
Yet, on the surface, it looks like Bill Belichick treated him like a bag of practice footballs.
Signed as a free agent on Aug. 8, he was released before the opener on Sept. 7, only to be re-signed for the duration of the season on Sept. 28.
Yet, here we are in February, and Warren speaks with reverence when discussing Saint William of Foxboro.
"Great coach, great person," said Warren. "He demands your best. He's got that fire that burns inside of him, the will to succeed, the will to win."
What about the will to alter people's lives by leaving them dangling on the unemployment line?
A $20,000 lunch
Instead of attending Wednesday's media session, Giant lineman Osi Umenyiora said he was spending time with the family.
The NFL fined him $20,000, and he wasn't happy about it.
"It's absolutely a big hit," said Umenyiora. "I feed a lot of people. I am responsible for a lot of people. That money could have gone to a really, really good use. It's stupid to incur that type of fine for missing something as simple as this. At the end of the day, I didn't know it was mandatory."
Artist at work
Wes Welker is a Picasso in cleats. He creates a masterpiece with every stride.
Half the routes he runs can't be found on the NFL's passing tree.
But his coach, Chad O'Shea, seemed to minimize this.
"He's an exceptional route runner and does things a lot of guys in this league just physically can't do," said O'Shea, the Pats' wide receivers coach. "But he plays within our system. The receiver's job is to get open, he gets open. But he's also playing within our system."
If Welker isn't inventing out there, I'll give up my seat in the press box Sunday. The guy is a sheer genius.
No. 24 gets help from No. 24
As New England's media session ended, former Patriot great Ty Law (No. 24 then) and current cornerback Kyle Arrington (No. 24 now) were seen discussing football and techniques.
It turns out that Law, now a commentator for CSNNE, was teaching press coverage tips to Arrington, who'll be staring across at Victor Cruz, Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks in the Super Bowl.
The session lasted four or five minutes.
Law says watch for the adjustments Sunday night.
"He'll be in better position on Sunday than he would have been. I promise you that," said Law.