I have a shot glass from every city I’ve ever been to. So naturally, I have two from Indianapolis now.
INDIANAPOLIS — I did a radio interview with ESPN Radio 1230/1450 in North Carolina. They were kind enough to send the interview snippet as an .MP3. We talk Indianapolis and the Super Bowl. And, of course, Rob Gronkowski’s ankle. Enjoy.
INDIANAPOLIS — I feel like I’m playing linebacker on a football field, just keeping my head on a swivel. But instead of looking for blockers and opposing offensive players, I’m looking out for celebrities, hookers and NFL players.
Not necessarily in that order.
Super Bowl week has been a drain on my energy but I’m glad to say it’s coming to an end and we’ll all be game oriented by tomorrow morning. The visual distractions of people — both en masse and celebrity — can be a bit overwhelming. And right now, on this Saturday, the relentless stream of gawkers outside the media hotel are relentless. It’s getting to that uncomfortably weird stage in which everybody, celebrities included, want the game to just get here.
And while normally I would have my picks and predictions up on Thursday or Friday, I’m just getting to it now because of the relative quiet today surrounding the New England Patriots and New York Giants. There is no coach or player availability to the media.
So who do I got? I’ve been asked that quite a bit the past few days. More times actually than I have all season. I guess that’s what happens when people see you sitting at the Boston Globe booth. Admittedly though, I’ve been waffling on who I like. The Giants beat a strong 49ers team after a couple of special teams miscues, and the Patriots sort of backed into the big game after Billy Cundiff’s missed field goal with seconds remaining in the AFC Championship. Neither won outright, and that may be more of a reason why there’s such parity in the NFL than not. No one team has a lock on talent. But I do know one thing, the Patriots have a lock on discipline. And despite Brandon Spikes getting away with slugging a guy, the team is poised to play error free, much the way they’ve done the entire season.
The big question everyone wants to have answered is whether Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski is going to be good to go. He was listed as questionable for the game on Friday’s injury report. He practiced the final two practices, giving some assurance to Patriots fans that he’ll be available. I expect him to play and to play well. I think that bolsters the Patriots’ chances of winning this game tremendously. There’s no stopping him, Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker.
The revenge factor here, which I think is blown out of proportion for some, is right on the money for Tom Brady. This is a game he doesn’t want to lose, not just because he hates losing and this is the Super Bowl, but because it was the Giants who last beat him and it was the Giants who last took away his glory in Super Bowl XLII. If vengeance has any bearing on any one player in this game, it’s the most dangerous player on the field in Tom Brady.
Again, I like the Giants. I like the fact that they only need four pass rushers to cause trouble. I love their receiving corps. I love how Eli Manning has been running this team. I’m not so much a fan of their running game, which I would have considered inconsistent up until about a month ago. I think their weakness is their offensive line, which lets Manning get banged up too much. But they’re a solid team and they play hard nosed. I just don’t think they have the gusto to make enough stops against this Patriots offense. Can you tell I’m hedging? Because I’m hedging. Who knows how this thing is going to turn out. After XLII, we all thought 19-0 was inevitable. But you remember what happened. I just think that the Patriots are better overall and more consistent in what they do. And what they do is almost entirely unstoppable.
Giants vs. Patriots
My pick: Patriots
Last week (conference championships): 1-1
Regular season: 135-83 (61.9 percent)
I’ve only been here for a day and a half and I can already say that I’m enjoying Indianapolis. With the Super Bowl hanging over its head, and the throngs of media descending on its streets, there is quite a bit of Hoosier Hospitality on display.
Let’s see how this week plays out though before delivering judgment.
Back to grind mode.
Before I get too busy, I wanted to stop and share some thoughts with those that frequent this site. I’m here in Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI, the rematch game between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. Who knew when I wrote on this very site five months ago that I was going to be taking a greater role in Patriots coverage that I would be here, that the Patriots would be here, and that I would have this opportunity. It really is a blessing.
Since I’ve come to the Globe, Boston sports teams have done extremely well. I took part in our coverage of the NBA Finals in 2010 as the Celtics and Lakers went toe to toe. I was on the ground in Vancouver when the Bruins throttled the Canucks in Game 7, and then Vancouverites throttled their city. And now I’m here in Indy as the Patriots try to cap a really serendipitous season.
In the words of Kevin Garnett, “Anything is possible.”