One of the first things the players noticed when they arrived at the Giants’ complex for the start of the offseason program in April was some new artwork hung in the auditorium. Along the wall are large photographs of the Giants teams that won championships, every one of them from 1927 to 2011.
They’re not spaced out evenly, though. At the end of the wall there is a gap. It’s a vacuum that draws the eye, and just about every player stares at it when walking into the room. It’s one they dream about filling.
“We have a spot ready for us to go up there, too,” guard Justin Pugh said.
That’s why as the Giants inch closer to clinching a playoff spot, something that can happen with a win Thursday against the Eagles, they’re not focusing on the accomplishment. Since the spring, they’ve been talking about putting a fifth Super Bowl trophy in the case. It’s a subject most teams broach, but few teams hammer away at as regularly.
“Every meeting you attend, whether it’s special teams, team or a defensive meeting, it’s always about putting that fifth trophy in the case,” cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. “That’s everybody’s goal. You’re going to hear it. But to keep harping on it, to always say it, it’s like, in your mind, you know what time it is. It’s kind of like all or nothing.”
The auditorium isn’t the only place where Super Bowl vibes are hammered not so subtly into the players’ minds. The entire building is filled with memorabilia from championship teams, from murals outside the weight room to a large picture of Eli Manning uncorking his deep pass to David Tyree in Super Bowl XLII etched on the glass of the cafeteria.
“When you walk around this building that’s all you’re thinking about,” Rodgers-Cromartie said.
Those have been up since the building opened, though, and they fill up a good deal of décor. The message from them is about the glories of the past, recent though it may be. The team pictures with the space for one more — the one asking “Will it be you, men?” — are about the future. They’re new.
So, too, is the openness with which the Giants embrace their goal.
“It’s very different,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “To harp on it day in and day out, that’s not common.”
But it’s something the Giants are buying into.
“I’m a person who always believes you speak things into existence, and it’s just kind of happening,” Odell Beckham Jr. said of the playoff run. “I’m not saying we’re there yet or it’s automatic, but that’s how this season is going.
“You can’t hide. We’re not hiding. There ain’t no hiding in this world.”
If anything, the Giants are just now being found. They’ve been talking about the Super Bowl for the past eight months. Now they are potentially six games away from winning it.
“I think when you start beating those teams that are playoff teams and considered the best teams in the NFL, it starts to become a little more of a reality,” Pugh said. “We beat the supposed best team in the NFL twice, so why can’t we go all the way? We beat playoff teams. If you win those games in January, you get to go to the Super Bowl. It’s becoming more of a reality than ever in my career, which is exciting. I’ve never been able to sit here and say we have a legitimate shot to go all the way.”
So legitimate that Pugh is already thinking about his place on the auditorium wall.
“I’m going to be cheesing real hard,” he said, “when they put my picture up there.”
PATH TO THE PLAYOFFS
The Giants have five possible avenues to clinch a playoff berth this weekend. They will get in if any of the following happens:
1.A Giants win or tie against the Eagles
2.A Lions loss or tie against the Cowboys
3.A Packers loss or tie against the Vikings
4.A Bucs loss or tie against the Saints
5.A Falcons loss to the Panthers