Or, in the case of Burress, to make sure he will see it when he returns to work Monday after being away from the team for two weeks because of a suspension. The red shirt was emblazoned with bold white capital block letters:
The Super Bowl champion Giants reinforced that message – one they hope Burress will get to their liking from now on – with a 44-6 thumping of visiting Seattle on Sunday at Giants Stadium. The Giants don't just believe the message, they embody it.
There is no better proof than what they did to the Seahawks. This game was over just about the time that the echo of home of the brave cleared the stadium. The Giants were up 24-3 midway through the second quarter on their way to a 4-0 start.
More than that, New York is taking the notion of addition by subtraction and making it look like a logarithm. Future Hall of Fame defensive end Michael Strahan retires? No problem. Trade tight end Jeremy Shockey? Big deal. Lose Pro Bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora to injury? What of it? Suspend Burress, the team's leading receiver? Big whoop.
On Sunday, the Giants replaced Burress with Domenik Hixon and he rolled up 102 yards receiving and a touchdown before halftime. Prior to Sunday, Hixon had just 7 catches, 94 yards receiving and no scores in his two-plus year career.
Dixon gets ready to pull in a first-half catch.
(Getty images/Al Bello)
"We just felt, honestly, it would be good to have Plaxico back, but the guys we had out there, we could rotate them in," quarterback Eli Manning said.
No matter how much teams espouse the cliché about sticking together and overcoming the loss of stars, they're really not supposed to be able to lose both starting defensive ends, a leading tight end and a leading wide receiver and just keep rolling. Not just rolling, but steamrolling; plowing over opponents as if it were a varsity-JV scrimmage – not the NFL regular season.
How else do you explain a team averaging an absurd 7.5 yards per rushing attempt on the plays in which it actually tried (throw out two kneel downs at the end by backup quarterback David Carr and the Giants combined for 256 yards on 34 carries)? Even worse, starting running back Brandon Jacobs (15 carries, 136 yards and two touchdowns) averaged an absurd 9.1 yards per carry.
That also was against a run defense that came into the game allowing only 3.5 yards per carry. New York's domination filtered to the passing game, where Manning completed 19 of 25 for 267 yards and two touchdowns.
"I told (Eli) toward the end – I saw his numbers – I said, 'Man, it doesn't get too much better than that,' " said Jacobs, whose pounding running style sets the tone for what the offense is trying to do.
While everyone treated Burress' absence politely, refusing to crow about how they did this without him, the statement was clear.
"We are just talking about today and winning the game, a bunch of guys playing as a team and realizing the idea and the concept of team," coach Tom Coughlin said.
While that comment can certainly be interpreted as pointed, none of the Giants really wanted to go there. They realize over the long haul of the season, they will need Burress. How he reacts to this situation when he returns to the team Monday will be interesting.
"Plax is a professional and he's going to have his mind right when he gets back to the team," linebacker Antonio Pierce said. "He hasn't been talking to anybody (in the media), just keeping it to himself until he's ready to talk. I know he's going to be fine."
Maybe so, but nothing tends to put people in a different state of mind more than the notion they can be lived without. On Sunday, the Giants didn't just live without Burress, they flourished. Moreover, they are flourishing without a lot of people.
This is the same team that lost running back Tiki Barber to retirement after the 2006 season and proceeded to do better than it had during his time as one of the best backs in team history.
"I don't think we're doing anything where we're coming up with all these extravagant plays or that one or two guys are playing extremely well, I think it's just the whole team coming together," wide receiver Amani Toomer said. "You'd think it wouldn't be like that, but we have a lot of guys who are looking for a shot to play like everybody else."
They're doing more than just playing. They're thriving as a team.