Bob Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He was Newsday's football writer covering the Jets
Corey Webster is standing outside the Giants' training facility, with MetLife Stadium just a few hundred yards behind him. It is the constant reminder of where the Giants want to be playing on the final Sunday of the playoffs.
The stadium is only a parking lot away, but earning the right to play there in Super Bowl XLVIII is far off in the distance, a regular season and two or three playoff wins away -- a near eternity in football terms. But Webster believes the Giants can make history and become the first team in NFL history to get to a Super Bowl in its home stadium.
And if that turns out to be the case, then it will be the Giants' defense that shows them the way. This after a nightmarish performance last year in which they plunged to near the bottom of the league.
It will not happen again, as far as the Giants' 31-year-old cornerback is concerned.
"When you fall to one of the worst defenses in the league, you want to be a top five or even the best defense in the league, so we're coming out with all those motivating factors to get better," a defiant Webster said yesterday, a few minutes before the Giants had their first padded practice of training camp.
Strong words from Webster, in keeping with an unusually outspoken sense of confidence from a Giants team that is usually pretty reserved at this time of the year. In fact, the last time we've heard this much bravado, especially from a player on defense, was in the run-up to the 2011 playoffs. The Giants backed up that big talk with a second Super Bowl victory in the Tom Coughlin era.
Webster wants more. Even the thought of some other NFC team earning the right to be in the Super Bowl and use the Giants' locker room in advance of the game chafes at the veteran cornerback.
"That motivates you," Webster said. "That's motivation, just fuel to the fire. Do anything you can do. Do everything in your control, and that's going out here every day and competing and playing like a champion.
"We've used somebody else's locker room, so we don't want it to happen to us," he said. "We'll do everything in our power, work hard, all the little things in between and hopefully that will help."
History says the odds are stacked against the Giants, even if they're deserving of being in the Super Bowl conversation. History says no team that plays its home games at the Super Bowl site has ever made it that far. That's XLVII years, to be exact.
And the last three years, the home team went into that year with a legitimate shot at getting that far. But those dreams ended in catastrophic fashion. In 2010, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo went out for the season in a home loss to the Giants, preventing Jerry Jones from having his team in the Super Bowl. A year later, Peyton Manning had hoped to lead his Colts to victory at Lucas Oil Stadium. Instead, it was brother Eli and the Giants, while Peyton missed the entire season with a neck injury. And last year, the Saints saw their hopes of playing in the Big Easy blown to bits by the yearlong suspension of coach Sean Payton over the Saints' bounty program.
So for all the big talk coming from Big Blue, they're still a long shot. But Webster remains undeterred and believes it will be a resurrected defense that leads the way to the shimmering stadium across the parking lot Feb. 2.
"The Giants are normally known for their defense," he said. "We want to get back to that style of play. Nobody wants to let that fall on his shoulders, not being the best. Defense wins championships. Offense wins games and sells tickets. Understanding that, we want to win championships, so we have to be the best defense we can be."