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Trash-talk doesn't matter, but Plaxico Burress urges Giants to let Patriots have it

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INDIANAPOLIS – The tall, lithe man in the fashionable T-shirt stood in the corner of the upstairs VIP section early Friday morning, enjoying the EA Sports party in downtown Indy while famed New York rapper Nas spit out the song "One Mic" on the stage below.

No, it wouldn't be a New York Giants vs. New England Patriots Super Bowl without Plaxico Burress in the house, even if four years ago seems like 400 given all the sure-handed wideout has gone through since making one of the most famous game-winning catches in NFL history.

Burress, whose brash pregame comments before that game in Arizona included a prediction of the actual score by which the Giants would stun the then-undefeated Pats, has since spent nearly two years in prison for violating New York City's stringent gun laws, endured a largely dissatisfying season with the New York Jets and set his sights on relocating as an impending free agent.

In the meantime, he still thinks the proper course of action for the Giants before Super Bowl XLVI is to rock the mic like Nas and be loud, proud and unbowed.

"You gotta be gangsta," Burress said, laughing for effect. "I mean – come on – it's the Super Bowl. Everybody's gonna be ready, so talk it up, show some swagger, let everyone know how you feel."

As Burress is aware, numerous Giants have done just that, from safety Antrel Rolle's declaration that "we are going to win this thing," to defensive tackle Chris Canty telling Giants fans to "get ready for a parade," to quotes from defensive linemen Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora suggesting that Pats quarterback Tom Brady was rattled during New York's 24-20 victory at Gillette Stadium in November.

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There's been so much prattle, I feel like I'm at a Rolling Stones show on the 1969 Beggars Banquet tour, with Keith Richards blurting to the audience, "Aaah New York City you talk a lot, let's have a look at ya."

There are two schools of thought on the underdog Giants' boldness and chatter:

1) It's false bravado, meant to cover up a deep-seated insecurity, and a sign that the stress of the moment is overwhelming Tom Coughlin's players.
2) It's a sincere appraisal of a palpable, we-don't-give-a-damn confidence that has carried the Giants from the brink of playoff elimination to five consecutive victories and a stirring postseason run – and it's a page out of the Burress playbook when it comes to tweaking the Patriots.

Up until Super Bowl XLII, the prevailing notion in NFL circles was that talking trash before facing the Patriots was a really bad idea. Since Bill Belichick's mantra was we do our talking on the field and his players prided themselves on avoiding such pregame banter, there was a sense that poking the beast would somehow provoke an even more focused and fervent effort than otherwise planned.

Burress called b.s. on all of that – and got away with it, delivering with the winning score in the final minute. From that point on, the Patriots' aura of invincibility and punitive potential was gone.

[Dan Wetzel: Jim Irsay, Peyton Manning couldn’t maintain their cease-fire during Super Bowl week ]

Sure, Belichick remains rightfully regarded as a brilliant coach, and Brady is a feared quarterback who'll go down among the game's all-time greats. However, opponents around the league now routinely throw verbal jabs at the Pats, perhaps reasoning that Burress was onto something, or possibly just letting out the pent-up swagger they'd been previously stashing.

Think back to last year's divisional-round playoff game at Gillette between the Pats and Jets. Six weeks earlier, New England had crushed New York in the same stadium, 45-3, yet head coach Rex Ryan's players were still trash-talking before the rematch. Conversely, Pats wideout Wes Welker made some joking references in a news conference to an earlier foot-fetish saga involving Ryan and his wife, Michelle – and got benched by Belichick for the game's first series in response.

When Ryan's loose (and loose-lipped) bunch rolled to a 28-21 upset victory, it was another blow for uppity over uptight.

The narrative, of course, is perpetually rewritten to put these truths in retrospective perspective.

If the Giants lose on Super Sunday, we'll undoubtedly hear that the pregame chatter riled up proud players like Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Brady and others. Perhaps the players themselves will say this in postgame interviews, imparting a cautionary lesson to the Pats' future foes.

Should the Giants win again, however, they'll talk even more boldly, their hyper-confident approach will be hailed as the prevailing blueprint, and Rolle and Canty may find themselves grouped with Burress as modern-day Joe Namaths, albeit with much less style and impact.

I don't think it matters – at all. I believe the Pats and Giants will play their absolute hardest in this game to decide a championship, regardless of who says what or who slights whom, and that any player who correlates pregame banter with enhanced performance is simply playing a trick on his own mind.

"We'll go ahead and play football," Tuck said Wednesday during an interview at the Giants' hotel. "It doesn't really matter. We don't really care.

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"We understand where [our brashness] comes from – people ask us questions, and we're gonna be honest about the answers. I don't feel like I need to lie to you. We think we're gonna win the football game. Otherwise, why would we get on the plane?

"To me, nothing that anyone says matters. If they talk about my momma and I play at a higher level of intensity, then shame on me. Nothing anyone says should elevate your football. It should already be elevated to its highest point."

In two days, if all goes well, these evenly matched teams will elevate their respective games and give us a show far more entertaining than anything expressed in the days leading up to the clash.

For those blessed four-plus hours on Super Sunday, the only mouth that matters will be Madonna's.

TAKE IT TO THE ATM

The Patriots' season-long weakness – their defense – will ultimately betray them in a high-scoring Super Bowl defeat to the Giants. … Eli Manning will win a second Super Bowl MVP award, and way too many people will try to start making the case that he's "better than his brother." … No matter how many picks I get right over the course of time, legions of critics will cite one incorrect prediction (quite possibly, the one I just made) as evidence that I am biased, idiotic and unfit to be employed as a sports columnist.

PLEASE, BOSS, SEND ME TO …

Lucas Oil Stadium, where I hope I'll see a football game as interesting and exciting as the one I covered at the RCA Dome five years ago.

LIES, LIES, LIES

1) Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora came up with his "I misunderstood the schedule" excuse for missing Wednesday's mandatory media session after absorbing Eric Cartmenez's "I misinterpreted the rules" doctrine from the classic, Belichick-inspired South Park episode.

2) Belichick has an awesome sense of humor.

3) There is nothing shady about Josh McDaniels.

LET'S DO SOME DON JULIO SILVER SHOTS FOR …

Don Cornelius, the iconic Soul Train creator, who died Wednesday at the age of 75. I hope you'll join me in wishing him love, peace and soul – and the hippest trip in the afterlife.

THIS WEEK'S PROOF THAT CAL IS THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE

There was a lot of national talk about the alleged implosion of the Golden Bears' once-vaunted class of incoming football freshman, but reports of Cal's death were greatly exaggerated. We're thrilled with the crop of players who signed national letters of intent on Wednesday, in many sports, and I have nothing but love for the kids who chose to go elsewhere. I did, however, declare Jihad on the University of Washington (purely for entertainment purposes) last Thursday on San Francisco's KNBR-AM and lit up the KJR-AM Seattle airwaves with some smack talk for Wannabe SC North U.

After a late rally, Cal's men's basketball team temporarily fell a game behind that aforementioned school in the race for the Pac-12 title, losing 78-74 to Arizona at Haas Pavilion. Senior forward Harper Kamp had 22 points and senior guard Jorge Gutierrez added 18 for the Bears (17-6, 7-3), whose 17-game home winning streak ended. Last Sunday, in the "We've Got Mike Montgomery And You Don't" Battle of the Bay, Cal defeated Stanford, 69-59, with Gutierrez pulling down a career-high 12 rebounds. "Personally," Gutierrez told reporters after improving his career record against the Cardinal at sold out Haas to 4-0, "I don't think it's a rivalry." Cal has won five of its last six against the school Montgomery once coached.

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Yahoo! Sports Radio: Matthew Stafford expects a Super shootout]

The Cal women (16-6, 7-3) remained second in the conference after pulling out a 78-74 overtime victory over the Wildcats in Tucson. Freshman forward Reshanda Gray (22 points, 13 rebounds), in her first career start, led the Bears, who came back from a six-point deficit to tie the game in the final minutes of regulation. It was the Bears' second consecutive game decided by overtime. (Last Saturday, they nearly pulled off a stunning upset at Maples Pavilion, rallying from a 14-point, second-half deficit to force OT against No. 4 Stanford before falling, 74-71.) The Cardinal extended its home winning streak to 74 games and won its 66th consecutive conference game, but Stanford got all it could handle from freshman point guard Brittany Boyd (career-high 19 points), junior guard Layshia Clarendon (17 points, including the final five in a 9-0 run that ended regulation) and the rest of the Bears.

Oh, there was one other Cal-Stanford clash last Saturday, a rugby showdown on The Farm. Final score: Bears 109, Cardinal 0. Have a nice weekend everyone.

YAHOO! SEARCH WORDS OF THE WEEK

moving on without peyton

LYRIC-ALTERED SONG DEDICATION OF THE WEEK

View photo

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Tom Brady with wife Gisele.
(AP Photo)

Tom Brady's wife, Gisele, sent a seemingly innocuous and sincere email to family and friends asking them to support her husband's quest for a championship. Naturally, it ended up on the front page of the New York Post, which seized upon her inclusion of the word "prayer" in typically understated fashion. It's a loaded word that, way back when, a certain superstar parlayed into one of her many massive hits. In keeping with tradition, we draw upon the halftime entertainer's catalog to bring you Gisele-as-Material Girl – to the tune of Madonna's "Like a Prayer."

Life is a mystery, everyone must stand alone.
I want some Lombardi in that Indy dome

When you see my man, send out a little prayer
He's down on his luck, it's time to show you care
I'm a nervous wreck, like Bill Belichick
Just like a prayer, you know he's got nice hair

And Antrel Rolle, is like a cocky blowhard
His words are cold, he has no soul, makes it so hard
I see Eli, oh God, he's good like Peyton
He lets it fly, I close my eyes
Heaven help us

When you see my man, send out a little prayer
He's down on his luck, it's time to show you care
I'm a nervous wreck, like Bill Belichick
Just like a prayer, you know he's got nice hair

The manchild, Jason Pierre-Paul's coming
Osi and Tuck are going wild, now you're scrambling
It's a bad dream, like the one in '07
You're home with me, your hand's empty
No big, fat ring

When you see my man, send out a little prayer
He's down on his luck, it's time to show you care
I'm a nervous wreck, like Bill Belichick
Just like a prayer, you know he's got nice hair

When you see my man, send out a little prayer
He's down on his luck, it's time to show you care
I'm a nervous wreck, like Bill Belichick
Just like a prayer, you know he's got nice hair

Life is a mystery, everyone must stand alone.
I want some Lombardi in that Indy dome

Just like a prayer, your arm can take us there
Just like on SNL, Nephew of God done well
Don't like this team, they are not what they seem
Just like a prayer, no choice,
My man is our best player

Just like a prayer, he'll take us there
It's like a dream to me
Just like a prayer, he'll take us there
It's like a dream to me
Just like a prayer, he'll take us there
It's like a dream to me
Just like a prayer, he'll take us there
It's like a dream to G

Just like a prayer, your arm can take us there
Just like on SNL, Nephew of God done well
Don't like this team, they are not what they seem
Just like a prayer, no choice,
My man is our best player

Just like a prayer, your arm can take us there
Just like on SNL, Nephew of God done well
Don't like this team, they are not what they seem
Just like a prayer, no choice,
My man is our best player
My man is our best player
Our best player …

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