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Super Bowl XLVI champion Giants can't believe it's been 10 years since their title run

Giants long snapper Zak DeOssie (51) celebrates after

Giants long snapper Zak DeOssie (51) celebrates after his team's 21-17 win over the New England Patriots in the NFL Super Bowl XLVI football game, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012, in Indianapolis.  Credit: AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham recently had the opportunity to gather at the Giants’ facility to spend time together and reminisce about the 2011 season. It was a year that began with Cruz dropping a key pass before salsa-ing his way to stardom, Nicks dominating defenses throughout the postseason, and Manningham eventually making the signature catch in a Super Bowl victory.

By the time they were done chatting, they had fallen so far back into their memories that it was difficult to climb back to the present.

"It was like, ‘Yo, we’ve got practice tomorrow, dog! What are we doing?’ " Cruz said of the sensation he felt as their session wrapped up. "We still all look the same, we all have the same ambition and the hunger, you can tell. But it definitely doesn’t feel like 10 years ago. It feels like just yesterday we were getting ready for practice."

A decade has, in fact, come and gone since the Giants won Super Bowl XLVI. This weekend serves as a reminder of that as the 2011 Giants celebrate their reunion, several days of gatherings and galas to honor the most recent champions in franchise history that will culminate with an on-field ceremony at halftime of Sunday’s game against the Rams at MetLife Stadium.

And while only one member of that team is still playing in the NFL – Jason Pierre-Paul with the Bucs where he is teammates with the ageless quarterback he helped beat in Super Bowl XLVI 10 years ago, then helped win Super Bowl LV this past February – many of the 2011 Giants share the same sentiment as Cruz.

They can’t believe how fast the time has gone.

"You feel as though it wasn’t that long ago because you can remember so much about it," said Kevin Boothe, a guard on that team. "It’s so vivid in your mind. And being fortunate enough to see a lot of these guys frequently keeps you young."

Not everyone has that last element to enjoy. Over the decade the team has scattered . This weekend, though, many of them returned to New York, some for the first time since they were feted in the Canyon of Heroes or received their Super Bowl rings at Tiffany’s.

"It’s been a while," Tom Coughlin, the coach of the team, said as he scanned the room of familiar faces who were honored at this year’s Jay Fund Champions for Children Gala on Friday night in Manhattan. "I get to see some of them occasionally, but not like this weekend. It’s a memorable weekend."

Coughlin said each player carries with him a unique story in his mind.

"It may not always be something that can be shared," he said, "but there are situations and circumstances with each of the guys."

Many of them have to do with the word that seems to best summarize the team. Several were asked, in separate interviews over the course of a number of weeks, to describe that squad in a single word or phrase.

"Resilience," Cruz said without hesitation.

"Resilience," team co-owner John Mara said.

"Resilience," former defensive lineman Chris Canty said.

"Brotherhood," tackle David Diehl said, offering a slightly different take, at least momentarily. "And resilience," he added.

That those Giants played while facing elimination for the final two months of their run, overcame a four-game losing streak late in the year, won their division with a 9-7 record, yet still managed to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of it all, is a lesson they carry with them in their post-football lives.

"When folks ask me to talk about the Super Bowl, it’s usually less about the game against the Patriots and more about the feeling that we had on that run when we won six in a row," Canty said. "Guys just made a decision that we were going to commit ourselves to becoming the best versions of ourselves… We didn’t even know we were going to get into the playoffs. To see that kind of focus without a guarantee that it would end well, the willingness to do that, that’s what made that a special season for us."

"We had several down periods during that season and they just always seemed to bounce back after everybody counted us out," Mara said. "Some teams have that. Some teams say they have it but they really don’t. They proved that they had it that year and it was really fun to be part of."

As for the Super Bowl game itself, the players remember it with varying degrees of detail.

"It's kind of a blur," Cruz said. "I remember all the important parts. I remember pacing back and forth on Tom Brady’s last drive. I remember running out onto the field with Tyler Sash, may he rest in peace, right next to me. Those moments kind of stick out to me."

Said Diehl: "I remember everything about it. That’s a part of the journey that you never forget. We’re 10 years removed and I can recall every play."

As improbable as that season was, the players who lived through it seem more surprised that 10 years have passed than they are by what they accomplished. They may still feel like they can go out and play – even if just for a few snaps – and still have the drive and the competitive fire that they had a decade ago, but there are reminders in their lives that remind them of how much time has elapsed.

It’s their children.

Cruz’s daughter, Kennedy, was born during the playoffs in January 2012.

"She’s a direct correlation of that year," he said. "Every birthday for her I’m like ‘That’s another year since the Super Bowl!’ She’s growing at a rapid pace, it seems like every six hours her legs grow a little more, but she is a continuous reminder of the Super Bowl year."

Diehl has a similar timepiece. He has a cherished picture of himself holding his tiny daughter, Addison, with confetti falling around them on the field after the Super Bowl victory. This year she is a freshman in high school.

And Boothe has two reminders among his three children Dante (10), Bria (9) and Marco (6).

"My oldest was 15 months old (for the Super Bowl) and my wife made the trip to Indianapolis eight months pregnant," he said. "My daughter Bria was born a month later in March 2012."

They, of course, don’t remember that season or that championship game.

"But they watch it," Boothe said. "They like to watch the highlights. Whenever the game comes on NFL Network or ESPN, I find myself watching it as well. I try to tune out my wife’s eye rolls in the background as she says: ‘I wonder who wins this time?’"

A decade later, it’s still the Giants.

New York Sports