EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 25, 2012

Ten Super Bowl stories you won't want to miss

Bill Burt

One game and several thousand media members. What's that mean? Stories and more stories. Some of them in our very own newspaper, with some flair, of course.

Here are 10 stories you won't be able to miss if you tried:

1. Indy might as well be N.Y.

It's a great story. Little brother comes to his big brother's long-time home to make some history. You also have to understand that the Patriots are not the favored team in Indianapolis. They hate the Patriots. Always will, probably. And then you add Eli Manning to the mix and it's easy for the locals. They want the Giants.

2. Brady playing at Peyton's Place.

Peyton Manning will be walking around all week. He lives in Indianapolis. But the guy who will be asked about Peyton all week will be Tom Brady. It's understandable. The two have been going head to head for literally 11 years. At some point, expect Brady to remind people that Peyton ain't playing in the Super Bowl.

3. The 2007 Super Bowl.

There's several story lines here. The Giants D-line vs. Brady, the Pats incredible offense scoring only 14 points, the three dropped interceptions on the Giants final drive — Rodney Harrison, Asante Samuel and Brandon Meriweather, and, of course, the perfect season being completely obliterated. The game was a great game. Key players and coaches from both teams are still there.

4. What's a Scarnecchia?

One of the best parts of the Super Bowl is you get to meet the Patriots assistant coaches. Other than a few Belichickian press conferences during the season, they are allowed only to say "his" to the media. Tuesday through Thursday, they are mandated to talk to the media. So it's a chance to reacquaint ourselves with Patriots legendary offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. He doesn't say too much, but we get to hear his voice.

5. UMass in the Super Bowl.

UMass-Amherst will be on the map for at least the next 10 days. That's because the 1-AA school boasts two starters in the Super Bowl, Patriots safety James Ihedigbo and Giants receiver Victor Cruz. Their time overlapped one year when Ihedigbo was a senior and Cruz was sitting out his first year there. The two are apparently friends and promoting their school just by being here. Cruz is the star of the two, a definite MVP threat.

6. Belichick's game plan.

Bill Belichick is known for a lot of things, including his monotone press conferences. But there are many levels to his talents as a football coach and drawing up a game plan is apparently high on the that list. His defensive plan in the Giants 1991 Super Bowl victory over the favored Buffalo Bills is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. While the Patriots are favored in Las Vegas, the feeling is Belichick will have work to do, primarily on offense, if the Patriots win. Stay tuned.

7. Coughlin is Mr. Personality.

The story goes like this. After the 2006 season, in which the Giants were 8-8, head coach Tom Coughlin met with his owner, Wellington Mara and was told to change his personality or else. He changed, being a little more open to discussion, and the next year the Giants won the Super Bowl. Well, he's changed since then. The guy, probably the unhappiest man I ever met in sports while the head coach at Boston College, is now a laugh-a-minute guy. He really has turned into, well, a decent guy.

8. Sterling's movie-in-waiting.

If the Patriots win, Sterling Moore's life story might be ready for a movie. He was an undrafted free agent out of Southern Methodist University this season signed by the Oakland Raiders. He is cut three weeks into the season and signed to the Patriots practice squad. He plays against the Jets, is cut again, and then is resigned three days later, playing nine days after that. Then he makes the play in the end zone, somehow chopping the ball out of Ravens receiver Lee Evans' hands, saving the Pats season and possibly making the key play in a Super Bowl winning season. Steven Spielberg, where are you?

9. Eli ... The Hall of Famer.

Two Super Bowl victories and apparently you are automatically in the Hall of Fame discussion. That's where we are with Eli Manning, which New York newspapers say, "Eli is short for elite." Eli is a better QB now than he was when he beat the Patriots four years ago (23 TDs, 20 ints in '07). While Brady is looking to join the likes of Joe Montana, Eli is closing in on Brady. Eli could easily get full of himself this week.

10. Zak and his dad.

I can't get tired of this story. North Andover native Zak DeOssie and his dad, fellow long snapper, Steve DeOssie. Their relationship has grown leaps and bounds every year as they share a common bond of winning a Super Bowl with the Giants. It was dad who told his son to learn the long snapping because it will get you on the field quicker. He forgot to say ... keep you out there longer, too. Zak was a star at Phillips Andover and after five years it appears he could be around the NFL a long time. Both are very bright and very competitive. And both hang around North Andover from time to time.

E-mail Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.