The Giants today returned to the business of football and preparing for their home game Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy and the suffering and hardship left in its wake were in their hearts and minds.
"Hopefully, your families are safe and not too inconvenienced," coach Tom Coughlin said at the outset of his news conference. "We know that a lot of our great fans have had devastating results from this incredible storm. We start it off by just saying, we wish for everyone's safety and hope that the families are healthy and safe."
"We've had a couple of days to be with our families and kind of deal with the situation and it's not easy," quarterback Eli Manning said. "Obviously, there are still a lot of issues and no power and the home life is different and has its challenges. But I think once you get into the facility and get here and start working out and get around the teammates, it will be a good little break to kind of get away from that and once you get here everything feels pretty normal."
The powerful storm prompted the Giants to come together off the field much like they do in uniform. Steve Weatherford and his family (wife Laura and three children, including a newborn) stayed at the home of Lawrence Tynes and his family. Kevin Boothe, his wife, Rosalie and their two young children had power in their Bergen County home and hosted Martellus Bennett and his wife, Siggi. Numerous players texted, tweeted and phoned one another to ensure that everyone was safe and to ask if anyone needed something.
"I think everybody just kind of texted one another to make sure everyone was okay," Boothe said. "We were able to help Martellus and his wife out last night. So that's why we're here, that's why we're teammates. It was great. My son (two-year-old Dante) loves him. I think he thought Martellus was there solely to play with him, so they had a great time. They were painting and doing a whole bunch of other things. So it was a good time."
"We didn't have power, so we went over there and I painted this painting," Bennett said. "Before that I was just trying to help everybody out that I could in the streets by where I live. So I did a little clean up around with some of the other people that live in my building.
"I think we made out lucky. I had some people in the building complaining about having to walk up the stairs instead of having to take the elevator. So I told them, 'Really? You've got to walk up six flights of stairs?' Other people have a lot worse things going on in their lives right now than having to walk up the stairs. You're in a good situation right now. It's all about perspective."
Like everyone in the metropolitan area outside the Giants locker room, players had their own tales of losing power, living in darkness and cold and trying to cope as best as possible. They also spoke in near disbelief at some of the things they had seen, including huge trees that had fallen or incredible torrents of water.
"I saw water coming over the Hudson River into the streets and you see cars completely covered with water," Manning said. "Obviously, it can be scary and the wind was blowing and the windows were shaking and you just hope everything holds up and the building holds up and the windows don't crack. But everything didn't and you make it through that Monday night and you wake up Tuesday with the water all gone. It's back where it should be and you just kind of start figuring out what you're going to do the next couple of days."
"It's definitely shocking," wide receiver Victor Cruz said. "I mean, you've seen it with a couple of hurricanes in the past, when I was younger. I used to see all of that stuff. It never directly affected me. The past couple of years, a couple of hurricanes when you see things, when you see a couple having to evacuate their home and stuff, it definitely hits close to home a little bit."
On a normal Tuesday, Manning spends many hours in the quarterbacks meeting room in the Timex Performance Center studying the next opponent's defense. With the storm bearing down on New Jersey, he made alternate plans this week.
"I kind of had a feeling this storm was going to be bad," Manning said. "I came in Monday morning and got my computer … with film, so I had time yesterday to watch a bunch last night and I feel caught up."
Because Coughlin adjusted the Giants' schedule, Manning was able to further study the Steelers this morning.
"(We are) starting a little later, so I got in early this morning to catch up on some film and feel like I'm right where I need to be," he said. "I'm looking forward to getting started, getting the game plan and getting out to practice."
Coughlin understands his staff and players have other concerns, but he has asked that they focus on football and preparing for the Steelers when it's time to work.
"Nothing is pushed back in the NFL," he said. "Everything is on schedule. Everything stays on schedule. We've made some adjustments to try to accommodate and anticipate some issues that we might have - starting late this afternoon, for example. I don't think that's going to inhibit anything. We've been hard at it and the coaches have been hard at it. We had pretty much a full day, yesterday. I gave a little time for family time. Everybody took their laptops with them and then we reconvened yesterday. I don't see any issue which has stopped us from sticking with our normal routine, if you will. By tonight, after we've practiced late this afternoon, I think our entire operation, in terms of the way in which we proceed with our preparation, will be on schedule.
"We're not denying what's going on. I think that's foolish. Everyone has been struck by this. Although, I would like very much to make sure that the focus is 100 percent on the task at hand. I think you do have to have a little bit of a mature attitude about these young men, their families and some of the circumstances they might me going through. Just like probably 85 percent of you who don't have power. Well, there's no sense in ducking that one. I mean, we've got guys who have kind of doubled up and families have gone to where they can, where power is in existence, especially people with young children. So, I'll try to do the best I can with that, but there's no avoiding what's happened here. Quite frankly, we don't want to. That's not our job. We realize this is a part of life, we've been struck by a blow by Mother Nature and we have to deal with it the best way we can. Hopefully, we can kind of categorize all of the issues that we're dealing with. When we get the players here, we get them focused, they understand how critically important this preparation is."