Indianapolis – Ramses Barden knows it’s coming. It’s the conversation – a brief one, probably, sometime Saturday night or Sunday – when Tom Coughlin tells him that he’ll not be playing in the Super Bowl. He knows it’s coming, but that won’t make it hurt any less.
“I want to be the guy each and every week,” Barden said. “I’m almost surprised when I feel something different, even if I know in the back of my head that that’s going to be the case.”
The Giants brought 53 active players with them to the super Bowl, but only 46 are allowed to play in the game. That means seven of them will be inactive. For the last few weeks, Barden has been among the inactives. He does not wear a uniform on the sideline. He does not play in the game. He simply watches.
On Sunday, he’ll likely be watching the super Bowl from the best seat in the house. It’s no consolation.
“You work the whole offseason and the season busting your butt to have an opportunity to contribute to the team and be a factor and add value, but it’s a numbers situation,” he said. “The team has worked so hard, they deserve this opportunity to play for the world championship. It’s not about me, it’s about us. I’m a part of this team. I’ve worked with them. I’ve contributed big things … As we’ve gone down to the wire in the playoffs I haven’t been as much involved, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t do some things along the way.”
Barden isn’t the only one who’ll likely sit out. Veteran defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy has played in only one game since October, missing four due to a suspension and the rest as a coach’s decision. He’s not happy with it, but he knew his job coming into this season and he has a chance to accomplish something that has eluded him throughout his career.
“Hopefully we’ll walk away with this ring and you won’t hear anything from me,” he said. “I take my role with this team with pride. I know what my role is. If my number is called I’m ready. If not, I know my role on the sideline, coaching, helping the young guys, helping Linval (Joseph), seeing what I see.”
Tom Coughlin said that the hardest part of his Super Bowl XLII experience was having to tell the inactive players that they would not be in uniform for the game. He’ll have to do that same against this weekend.
One of those who he scratched in 2008 was running back D.J. Ware.
“The biggest game of your life and you can’t even step on the field,” Ware said of the experience. “It’s pretty frustrating.”
Like Barden and Kennedy this year, Ware was expecting to eventually be told that he would not be playing in Super Bowl XLII. Barden is bracing himself, but he’s also preparing as if he could play.
“It doesn’t look good now, but who knows,” he said. “Anything can happen.”
Unlike Barden and Kennedy, Ware was just a rookie who joined the team late in the season from the Jets’ practice squad and hadn’t gotten much of a chance on the field. There were others though, like Sinorice Moss, who had been contributing but were inactive.
“I know it was hard on those guys,” Ware said of his fellow inactives four years ago. “It’s probably one of the most heartbreaking things in your life at that moment. You just have to try to stay focused and realize that one day your chance will come. Hopefully you get a chance to come to the Super Bowl and play.”
Ware got that chance. He’ll play on Sunday. Not everyone does.
“If not,” Ware said, “then at least you were there.”