– It's safe to say few people visit Indianapolis for a vacation in the middle of the winter, but Eli Manning erased any ambiguity today when he reminded the Giants that the journey they take next week is strictly for the business of playing – and winning - Super Bowl XLVI.
The Giants gathered for the first time since their stirring 20-17 overtime victory in San Francisco Sunday in the NFC Championship Game. They were told of the logistical arrangements for the next two weeks, including details such as practice schedules, ticket distribution and travel itineraries. It's a lot to digest, so Manning, the team's indispensible quarterback and offensive captain, reminded everyone that the only important point to the trip is beating the New England Patriots and winning the championship.
"I just told them a little bit about how to prepare for this – handle all of your business with tickets, getting that stuff done, just a few things on the mindset of this week," Manning said. "We have to have great preparation. Prepare this week like you're playing the game this week. Once you get to Indianapolis and you have to take a bus ride to practice – your whole schedule gets thrown off. Once you get there try to keep the same routine on some things. Everything that we would do during a normal week, we're going to get it done this week and then next week have great practices and preparation, continue preparing, but get our workload in this week."
Manning is one of 15 players on the current roster who suited up for the Giants' Super Bowl XLII victory over New England four years ago. Because of the respect he commands as a team leader, as well as his experience from that journey and game, Manning's words carried a lot of weight among his teammates.
"It was a message for the whole team," safety Antrel Rolle said. "I'm not going to go into all the detail and everything that he said, but it was a message that needed to be said and it was a message that was heard loud and clear from everyone. Basically, this is about business, let's go take care of it, let's go get it done, whatever the cost.
"It was very well needed. For players like myself who have been to a Super Bowl, it's still great to hear someone speak with that kind of leadership. And you know Eli doesn't say much and when he says it he means it, you know it's coming from the heart. And it's about business, and that's basically what the message is about, we're going out there to take care of business. Everything else is for the spectators. Everything else is for your family, for your friends, we're going out there to handle business."
Manning isn't overly vocal or demonstrative, but he is a firm and consistent leader. For example, he meets with his wide receivers every Friday after practice to review tape and cover points he deems important to that week's game. Today, he used those skills to address all the players.
"I'm on the defensive side of the ball, but I talk to Eli a lot," Rolle said. "I like to pick the brains of the quarterbacks, I think that's been helping my game a whole lot. Eli and I have a lot of side conversations, and he's a leader, man. Him going out there and doing what he did two nights ago (completing 32 passes in the face of a fierce rush), I think that definitely exemplifies what kind of guy he is and what kind of leadership."
Manning said part of the message he delivered to his teammates was to avoid getting trapped in the hoopla in the days leading up to the Super Bowl.
"I think that's important," he said. "It comes down to us getting our preparation done this week. If you do extra meetings – the meetings that I hold with my running backs or something I do with my receivers, I'm going to try to get all of that done this week because once you get out to Indianapolis your routine does get thrown off. If there are certain things you do during a normal week, once you're in Indianapolis – if you get a massage on certain days or if you get treatment or if you get an extra workout in – you want to try to continue to do those things. You want to try to stay in that same rhythm, have that same schedule. It is going to be thrown off. You will have to work around it somewhat, but you want to keep things as routine as possible."
*Manning said the players will have received the vast majority of the game plan before the team departs for Indianapolis on Monday.
"I would say it's 95 percent complete," Manning said. "There might be a few additions that week. The more film you look at, you might change a few things, but really from the standpoint of the coaches and the players, our preparation will be done this week. Everything is kind of a day off. We'll start on Thursday, but Thursday, Friday, Saturday will be like a normal, in our case, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. So everything will be going in. Once we get out to Indianapolis we'll have those practices on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, but it will be review at that point. The game plan is in. We'll get an extra day of each emphasis of the week to work on.
"That's a big help. I think that's the way you want to do it. Everybody knows the game plan and everybody has two weeks to look at it, understand it. Once you get out there everybody will feel good about what we're doing. Now it's let's continue this dress rehearsal and get extra reps of plays and just have a great understanding of what we're doing."
*Manning was sacked six times and hit on numerous other occasions in San Francisco, but said today he is not unusually sore.
"I feel good," he said. "I got a good workout in. (I) will be ready to go once we start practice and (I am) excited about our opportunities."
*Lucas Oil Stadium, the site of Super Bowl XLVI, is the home stadium of the Indianapolis Colts and Manning's brother, Peyton. The noise in domes can be deafening, but Manning has a very logical reason for not asking Peyton for tips on how to deal with it.
"I don't think he's ever been (on) the away team in his own stadium," Manning said.