Chris Canty #99 of the New York Giants celebrates a...

Chris Canty #99 of the New York Giants celebrates a tackle late in the game against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium. (Jan. 1, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

There has never been a time in Chris Canty's NFL or college career that he hasn't played for a member of what Al Groh calls "The Tribe."

Groh, who used to coach the Giants' linebackers, assigned that nickname to a band of coaches who worked on Bill Parcells' staff with the Giants in the 1980s and 1990, a group that helped transform the team into two-time Super Bowl champions. Canty has since benefited from the lessons handed down from three members of "The Tribe," including the founder himself.

"It has been exciting to play under that coaching tree, and I've learned from an early age what it takes to be successful," said Canty, the Giants' 6-7, 317-pound defensive tackle. "I've learned about the principles of how they like to coach the game of football, what you need to do to be successful and what you can't do, things that will hurt you and keep you from being successful."

From Groh, Canty's head coach at Virginia, to Parcells, who drafted Canty in Dallas, and now to Tom Coughlin with the Giants, Canty has spent every waking moment of his football career playing for a coach in the Parcells tree.

And he will rely on every morsel of information he has acquired over the years in an attempt to reach the Super Bowl for the first time.

Canty figures to be a major factor in the Giants' attempts to shut down 49ers running back Frank Gore, who rushed for 1,211 yards in the regular season. The Giants also will count on Canty to be a force in the pass rush against rejuvenated quarterback Alex Smith.

"The things you learn from coaches like coach Groh, coach Parcells and coach Coughlin, it's what makes you as a football player," said Canty, who achieved career highs in tackles (47) and sacks (four) this season. "I've always known what's expected of me, what is asked of me. That's very important for a football player."

And that connection to "The Tribe" may have even saved Canty's career.

Three months before the 2005 draft, Canty suffered a serious eye injury when he was struck by a bottle during a bar fight in Phoenix. Canty nearly lost sight in his left eye and still bears scars from the injury. He plays with a specially designed helmet with several additional bars in his facemask to prevent his eye from being poked.

The injury, coupled with a knee injury he suffered in his senior season at Virginia, caused his draft stock to plummet. Canty was considered a first-round talent before the knee problem and the off-field incident raised red flags among NFL personnel.

A phone call from Parcells to Groh kept Canty in "The Tribe." Parcells, the Cowboys' head coach at the time, needed a big defensive lineman. He was interested in Canty, but he needed to know if he could count on him.

"It was a very succinct conversation," Groh said. "I said, 'Look, Bill, I know what your kind of guy is, and this is your kind of guy. Book it.' "

You won't ever come back to me and say, 'You told me this . . .' Chris is a guy you can count on. He's highly competitive. He's intelligent. He's focused. He wants to win. He knows what his role is.' "

Parcells got a draft-day bargain by selecting Canty in the fourth round.

After four seasons in Dallas, Canty joined the Giants for six years and $42 million in 2009. "It was by choice," Canty said. "To be drafted by Bill and then play for coach Coughlin when I was a free agent, it was the best of both worlds."

I knew what would be expected of me. I knew what kind of coach [Coughlin] was before I even had the opportunity to play for him."

Coughlin has nothing but praise for Canty. -- even after the veteran lineman said Sunday's game would be a "bloodbath" and thus ratcheted up the big talk coming from Big Blue."He's a very smart guy. He's a very, very competitive guy," Coughlin said.

"He wants to be a very good football player and a part of our team and that is what makes it easy. When someone is motivated to be the very best they can be, that would be the word that would lead me to say that would make it better in terms of the coach-player relationship."

How much of an impact have the three coaches from "The Tribe" had on Canty? He puts it this way: "If you know Al, if you know Bill, if you know Tom Coughlin, you know me."

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