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Jameel McClain eyes another championship, this time with Giants

Cincinnati Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis is tackled

Cincinnati Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis is tackled by Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Jameel McClain in the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Cincinnati. Credit: AP / Tom Uhlman

Even Jameel McClain's Super Bowl ring comes with a caveat.

The hard-luck linebacker who has overcome obstacles all his life - from spending time living in a Salvation Army shelter in Philadelphia as a youngster to coming to the NFL as an undrafted free agent to being released by the Ravens in February - was of course injured and unable to play when the Ravens made their run at the Super Bowl XLVII title. He'd suffered a spinal contusion during the 2012 season that had him sidelined.

Now that he has signed with the Giants, McClain said his goal is to win another championship. And be on the field for it.

"I missed that, so I really don't have a ring," he said of the Ravens' championship. "I feel I have a chance to win one with his organization. Winning is everything. If you're in this game, you should only be playing to win and to compete. Without that, what are we left with? A bunch of numbers on the board? It really doesn't mean anything. I play this game to win, I play this game for respect and this organization does that at the highest level. I'm happy to be a part of it."

McClain visited with the Giants and several other teams prior to the start of free agency. It seemed as if the Giants had moved on from the idea of signing McClain when they agreed to sign another linebacker, O'Brien Schofield. But when the Giants were not happy with Schofield's ankle during his physical, they put that contract on hold and doubled back on McClain.

That's pretty much McClain's story in both football and life, being overlooked and having to prove himself. And he likes it that way.

"I've got a chip on my shoulder the size of a golden nugget," McClain said. "I'm all the way there. Every time that I get a little itch, God always slaps me in the back of the head and says, 'Jameel, you've got a long way to go.' I signed a little deal and then after that I got hurt, that was God slapping me on the back on the head. Once I came back from that injury then I get cut, so that's God slapping me on the back of the head again, just saying, 'Your job is to be the underdog.' For the world to see that the underdog can make it possible, that's my destination, that's going to be my journey. I know it and I accept it."

McClain became a starter for the Ravens and in 10 games last year (after he came off PUP from his neck injury) he had 52 tackles. Of course Baltimore played a 3-4 and McClain, being a backup at the start of his career, had to learn all of them. That, he said, will help him adjust to the Giants' 4-3 scheme.

"I really think people do make too much of it," he said. "Football is football. Maybe it's not so much for me because I believe I'm so versatile a player. I've played every position. None of that really scares me at all. It all just seems so familiar."

New York Sports