Hours after landing in Indianapolis, Chris Snee made his way to the hotel's conference room, stepping onto the stage during the first media availability of the week.
Behind him, a Super Bowl XLVI banner. In front of him, a microphone and a group of reporters and cameras arched toward the offensive lineman as he took a seat at the table.
In an alternate world, this may have been a job for Shaun O'Hara, the veteran center released before training camp. Along with Rich Seubert's simultaneous departure, there was a leadership vacuum on the offensive line. Snee, already a three-time Pro Bowler, transferred at least part of that burden to himself, and that's how he wound up where he was late Monday afternoon.
It all began with a conversation Snee had with Tom Coughlin shortly after his longtime friends and teammates were released on July 28. Snee met with his head coach, saying he's not a "big rah-rah guy" but that he's there to fill the void.
"He said, 'Good," Snee recalled of the conversation with Coughlin, "'Because we're going to need you to do that.'"
Along with veterans David Diehl and Kareem McKenzie, Snee stepped up and filled the shoes of their former teammates.
"They both did a great job in separate ways," Snee said. "Rich was kind of the energy, the rah-rah guy, the guy that would be fighting people after the whistle. Shaun was more of the classroom meeting guy, who would hold these conferences in front of his locker everyday with all of the media in front of him. So we try to share those."
Six months after while on the eve of the Super Bowl, Snee recalled the day he heard the news.
"It was a tough day for them, obviously," he said. "It was a tough day for me, but it was one where you just had to move on as quickly as possible because camp was two days away. So it took some time getting used to. Even now, they're missed. They're two good friends of mine and great teammates and great players."
Snee said the team made references to O'Hara and Seubert throughout the year, especially when watching film of last season. Meanwhile, Seubert was an honorary captain in the NFC Championship game in San Francisco.
But now is when the two Super Bowl XLII starters wish they were in XLVI.
"I know right now, this is when they're really having a tough time," Snee said. "They're missing everything, especially when they remember what it was like four years ago. They're supportive of us. I've gotten many messages from them. They're behind us all the way."
[Day 1 Photo Gallery!