Bob Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He was Newsday's football writer covering the Jets
Shane Vereen stands to the left of Eli Manning, hands on his knees as he listens to the Giants quarterback call out the signals. The ball is snapped, and Vereen hesitates for a moment and then takes a few steps to his left to await Manning's swing pass, which is delivered on cue. Vereen then darts up the left side, following his blockers until he is deep into the secondary.
It is a play the Giants hope to see a lot of from their most important free-agent signing, and the former Patriots pass-catching specialist hopes he can deliver on those expectations. Vereen was the centerpiece addition in the offseason, and the 26-year-old running back offers a skill set the Giants have rarely enjoyed during the Manning era.
Coming off an 11-catch performance in the Patriots' Super Bowl win over the Seahawks -- the most catches by a running back in Super Bowl history -- Vereen is ready to bring a championship attitude to a team that is as familiar with Super Bowl titles as his previous one.
"This [Giants] team has been to The Show, won it four times, which is a lot in this league," said the 5-10, 205-pound running back. "So that's not too far off from where I originated."
Vereen was a Patriots rookie when the Giants won their last Super Bowl, as Manning delivered a second straight last-minute, game-winning drive against the Patriots in the Giants' 21-17 win. Vereen wasn't active for that game, but the loss was crushing nonetheless.
"The way we fought through the season and then to lose on the final drive, that was bad. That one hurt," Vereen said.
His second trip to the Super Bowl featured the Patriots winning it with a stirring second-half comeback led by Tom Brady and Malcolm Butler's dramatic interception in the end zone of Russell Wilson's pass to seal the victory. Vereen was one of the offensive stars for the Patriots, even if he didn't realize it at the time.
"I had no idea at the time it was a record," he said. "I didn't even realize I had that many catches. I was just so lost in the game. I didn't know it was a record until they told me after the game."
Vereen joined his former Patriots teammates on Sunday night at the home of team owner Robert Kraft to get his Super Bowl ring -- a 205-diamond thing of beauty that Vereen will cherish forever. Along with the memories of his season and his teammates.
"It was a good time, and obviously the rings were phenomenal," he said. "It was a great way to close out a remarkable and very memorable season."
It was a season that ended with the controversy that has come to be known as DeflateGate. Vereen said he had no idea there was an issue until reports surfaced after the Patriots' AFC Championship Game win over the Colts that the league was looking into whether the team purposely deflated the footballs used in the first half. A months-long investigation by attorney Ted Wells concluded that it was "more probable than not" that the footballs were tampered with, and that Brady was "at least generally aware" of the situation.
The NFL suspended Brady four games, fined the Patriots $1 million and took away a first-round pick in 2016 and a fourth-rounder in 2017. Brady has appealed his suspension, and is set to meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday.
"I wasn't aware of it until the media came out about it, and even when the media came out about it, I didn't believe it because I had no recollection or no awareness of anything going on like that," Vereen said.
As far as Vereen is concerned, DeflateGate takes nothing away from the team's accomplishments.
"It hasn't tainted my season. It hasn't made me look at anybody any differently for any reasons," he said. "I guess we'll see what happens when it all shakes down. It is what it is. There isn't too much to say on it. It's in the league's hands."
Vereen remains close with many of his former Patriots teammates, including Brady, but now he says it's time to move on with his new Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
"[Brady and Manning] are very different people, but similar in the way that they carry themselves with such confidence and the way they demand a lot of themselves," Vereen said. "That's what great leaders do, and what all these guys [on the Giants] should be looking up to. [Manning] has been very patient with me, which I've appreciated. It's definitely not the easiest transition for me, but he's been great. He's helped me along the way and it's only going to grow. There's still a long way to go and I still have a lot to learn, but I'm looking forward to the challenge."