INDIANAPOLIS - Picked up pieces from a week in a sleepy town that somehow rivals New Orleans for best Super Bowl site ever.
■Any chance Bill Belichick retires as head coach of the Patriots after the game Sunday night? Tom Coughlin has been asked if he will retire and rejects the notion even though he is 65 years old and could probably walk off with a ticket to Canton. But what about the Hoodie? He turns 60 in April and could cap his 21st century dynasty with a fourth Super Bowl crown in 11 seasons. Belichick’s chipper comportment this week makes us wonder if he’s smelling the roses on his last go-around. What would be left to prove if he wins?
■New England parents, teachers, and coaches should send Belichick thank you notes. In addition to all the wins and championships, Belichick has given a hammer to all of us. Reminding your son to take out the trash sounds so much cooler when you get to say DO YOUR JOB in terse Belichickspeak.
■When he was relaxing in his dorm room in the Coolidge Hall high-rise tower at UMass, bet Victor Cruz never thought Madonna would be talking about his dance moves days before the Super Bowl.
■Remember J.D. Drew’s season-saving grand slam in the ’07 playoffs against the Indians? That could be Chad Ochocinco Sunday night. One touchdown catch in the Super Bowl could make it all worthwhile. Too bad Ocho never learned the playbook. Too bad he’s afraid to talk to his offensive coordinator.
■The Patriots are 0-2 in Lucas Oil (Can Boyd) Stadium - an 18-15 loss to the Colts in the Matt Cassel season of 2008 and the 35-34, fourth-and-2 epic in 2009.
■Curtis Martin’s first game of professional football was against the Cleveland Browns at the old Foxboro Stadium on Sept. 3, 1995. Martin ran for 30 yards on his first carry, had 102 yards, and scored the winning touchdown. He was surrounded by reporters in the locker room after the game. Wiseguy coach Bill Parcells, then in his third year in New England, walked past the scene and said, “Don’t put him in Canton just yet.’’ This weekend both Martin and Parcells are hoping for a call from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
■A few members of the 2001-02 Patriots are quietly wondering why there was no official recognition of the 10th anniversary of their breakthrough championship.
■One last time: Coughlin should defer and kick off if the Giants win the coin flip. The Patriots don’t want the ball to start the game. The last time New England opted to start with the ball was the day Tom Brady got hurt in the 2008 opener. New England started with the ball only twice this season; a loss at Buffalo and the blowout playoff win over the Broncos. Kicking off to the Patriots blew up in John Fox’ face (the Patriots put 7 on the board in less than two minutes), but it’s the way to go for the Giants.
■Coming Full Circle Dept: Belichick’s first NFL job was as a staff assistant with the Baltimore Colts in 1975 when he was 23. This week Belichick has been working out his team at the Colts complex.
■Great scene at Radio Row yesterday when Joe Montana was almost knocked over as people rushed to be near Tim Tebow.
■Best anecdote from any player this week: Eli Manning telling us that when he was a little kid, his older brother Peyton would pin him down and pound on his chest until he could recite the names of all the schools in the Southeastern Conference.
■I can see Justin Tuck’s room from the Super Bowl media hotel in downtown Indianapolis. The Giants’ hotel is smack dab in the middle of all the action and the NFC champs will not be able to get through their lobby without being recognized by hoards of fans. The Patriots are not far away, but they are in a university hotel that has little exterior signage.
■Has any family won a Vince Lombardi trophy and an Oscar in the same season? Rooney Mara, daughter of Giants boss Chris Mara, is nominated for best actress in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.’’
■Antowain Smith never gets enough credit for what happened in this game 10 years ago.
■You know you’re not at the Newton Y when you go to your hotel gym and have Archie Manning on a StairMaster to your right and Brian Billick on the treadmill to your left. Willie McGinest was on the mat, doing leg lifts. Not one of them commented on my six pack and I appreciate them respecting my privacy.
■Bumped into Tommy John at the Pacers-Nets game Tuesday. I teased him about wearing a Yankee windbreaker, and in Larry Bird fashion, John said, “If it’s free, I wear it.’’ Bird laughed when I relayed the story and said, “He’s a hillbilly like me.’’ John lives in New Jersey and works for a law firm that represents professional baseball players. Every young ballplayer in America returns his calls because of the widespread surgical procedure that bears his name.
■Ernie Accorsi first hired Bill Belichick as an NFL head coach and is also the man who made the deal to bring Eli Manning to the Giants in 2004. As GM of the Giants, Accorsi gave up Philip Rivers and three draft picks (one became Shawne Merriman) to acquire Manning. He scouted Manning when he was a junior at Ole Miss playing against Auburn. Accorsi was impressed with the way Manning took his undermanned team down the field at the end of the game. The drive ended with an interception, but Accorsi believed he saw something that would translate to NFL greatness. Said Accorsi, “One of the first things I learned about a quarterback was, ‘Can he take you down the field with the game on the line and get your team in the end zone?’ And that’s what I saw.’’
■Staying in the way-back machine, Parcells hired Tom Coughlin after meeting him when both were scouting players in Mobile, Ala. Said Parcells, “Tom Coughlin teams will always be up for the fight.’’
■Rock Hall of Famer Stephen Stills is in town to entertain at some Jim Irsay parties. Irsay gave Stills a championship ring when the Colts won their Super Bowl. Mr. “Love the One You’re With’’ thought the Lee Evans-Sterling Moore play should have been ruled a touchdown for the Ravens in the AFC Championship. Reminded that, by rule, the play could not be reviewed, Stills said, “Bad rule.’’
■Madonna might be an improvement over some of the recent Super Bowl halftime acts, but nothing will top U2 playing “Where The Streets Have No Name,’’ while names of 9/11 victims were unfurled from the roof of the Superdome in New Orleans in 2002.