The first thing Barry Cofield did when he walked onto the practice field for his free-agency workout with the Giants a few weeks ago was look for his name.
Not above a locker. Not on the back of a jersey. But on the banners that hang in the team’s fieldhouse commemorating the four Super Bowl champions and listing their rosters and coaching staffs. And there, near the top of the Super Bowl XLII banner, he found it.
He saw it there Thursday, too, when he participated in his first practice after signing a contract earlier in the morning.
“That was very cool,” Cofield said. “And it’s motivational. It looms large over you when you look at the names like Harry Carson and Strahan and Taylor; as a defensive player, you can’t help but be excited. And for me it reminds me of that game and that parade and those feelings that were priceless and I’ve been yearning for ever since.”
The Giants are yearning, too. Which is one of the reasons they added Cofield this late in the season. Yes, they needed depth on the defensive line, but they also are grasping for a feel. A confidence. And maybe Cofield can give it to them.
“We’re in a unique part of the season right now,” defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. “I think any player with a wealth of experience can be helpful in December when you’re in the thick of things. Hopefully, that is a plus for us.”
Cofield thinks he can help on the field, too. And right away. He hasn’t played in an NFL game since last Dec. 28 and spent the last few months rehabbing from hip and groin surgery. But after one practice, he impressed everyone . . . including himself.
“I wasn’t sure until I got on the field today and I felt great,” he said. “I feel like me being out there fresh, experienced, playing a limited amount of snaps, I can definitely help. The basics of the game haven’t left me. With a team like this [the 13-0 Panthers] that is going to throw punch after punch, you need bodies. You need to have depth and I absolutely think I can help.”
Cofield knows that every little bit does help.
“A couple of plays here and there is the difference between winning games in this league,” he said. “You get a guy who can come in and make a couple of them, it’s worth the time.”
Cofield said he sees some similarities between this team and the 2007 one he was part of. He already has taken on a bit of a leadership role with the relatively young and experienced roster. His initial message to them?
“It’s one game at a time and the next thing you know, you find yourself in the Super Bowl,” he said. “It’s just that simple and it happens just that fast.”
And then — poof! — your name is on a banner forever.