INDIANAPOLIS — Steve Weatherford spent 16 games on the same 2009 Jets team with Larry Izzo.
In that span, he learned quickly what Patriots fans absorbed from 2001-07. Izzo oozes character.
So when Weatherford first walked through the door to sign on as the New York Giants punter, he was more than pleasantly surprised to see Izzo, his new assistant special teams coach.
"Larry is such a great guy. I mean he's the all-time leading special-teams tackler in the NFL, and you know how he got there, hard-work, heart and determination," said Weatherford. "So knowing him as a player, you'll have to think he's going to have that same drive and passion as he did when he played."
After a year away from the game, Izzo returned to New York, trying his hand at coaching.
"It's been an incredible learning experience, an unbelievable year," he said. "There are a lot of similarities between here and New England. You could see that right away."
Izzo spent much of the last two days here on Super Bowl week reminiscing about his time with the Patriots and his defensive teammates like Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi, Ted Johnson, Mike Vrabel and Rodney Harrison.
"You're talking about a great bunch of guys, and just all-around good people," said Izzo. "We stay in touch and remain friends now. That linebackers meeting room, there were guys like Rosevelt Colvin, and even in the early days, Bryan Cox. That's a lot of really good football players."
Izzo and Vrabel (Ohio State) moved into coaching when their playing days ended.
"I just can't think of a better guy to be a coach, and a better place for Mike," said Izzo. "He loves everything about the place."
Meanwhile, Harrison, McGinest and Bruschi transitioned into the media.
"That's not by accident, either," said Izzo. "Those are smart guys, smart football players."
There is little doubt that Izzo enjoyed his time with the Patriots.
His 3-year-old son's name?
Same questions, same answers
It's one of the difficult aspects of Super Bowl week, answering the same questions over and over and over. Here are a few examples:
Giants coach Tom Coughlin was asked about Giant Chase Blackburn's journey from substitute teaching earlier this year to playing in the Super Bowl.
"That's question No. 972 about Chase," said Coughlin before expounding on the subject.
Patriot Matt Light, who missed media day on Tuesday because of a stomach flu, said teammate Rob Gronkowski told him he was asked the same question over and over about his ankle.
"And he gave them the same answer," said Light. "He is a well-trained animal."
Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien was asked about doing two jobs, referring to his other position as head coach at Penn State.
"I've been asked that question a million times," he said, before politely answering it for the millionth time.
Ellis over Jets
At one point, Patriots defensive end Shaun Ellis held some anger over his former team, the New York Jets, who let him go after 11 seasons.
"I'm over it," said Ellis. "When things first started happening and they weren't going to bring me back and how that went, it was disappointing. For them to basically close the door, it was tough, but I forgave them. I have put it behind me. I understand that it is a business. I had to go out and find the best situation for me and I found it here as a New England Patriot, and I'm at the Super Bowl."
They said it
"Not yet, but you never know. They're very good."
Pats guard Logan Mankins when asked if he was having nightmares about the Giants linemen.
"(I'm) undefeated with the pink suit. I had it in high school. The time I didn't wear it was (a loss) against Alabama. The cleaners closed early."
Pats linebacker Brandon Spikes when asked about the loud suit he wore on the plane to Indianapolis.
Well, blow me down
Pats safety Patrick Chung was asked about Bill Belichick's sense of humor.
After his answer, Chung had better hope the coach really has one.
"He's low key and undercover," said Chung. "It's those low-blow, funny jokes. You could say he has humor like Popeye."
Message to high schools
High school coaches who settle for nothing but 2-point conversions should learn a lesson from Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes.
Tynes had never touched a football until phys ed class in the 11th grade.
"My teacher was our defensive coordinator," said Tynes. "They needed a kicker, and he said, 'Lawrence, can you come out here and kick.'
"He knew I was a good soccer player so we went out to the baseball field. He throws his keys down in front where I was going to kick. He said, 'kick the ball and pick my keys up,' just to keep my head down. I went to spring football practice and I haven't stopped since. Pretty weird how it worked out."
Giants defensive back coach Peter Giunta isn't only a football guy. The Salem, Mass., native also was a backup hockey goalie at St. John's Prep.
The 55-year-old Giunta, a 1974 Prep graduate, backed up Andover native Tommy McNamara.
"Let me put it this way; Tommy was incredible and I was below average," recalled Giunta. "Tommy was a great athlete. He later went to Vermont and broke records there."