EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Antonio Pierce of the New York Giants has gone from being a non-drafted free agent in 2001 with the Washington Redskins to one of the most consistent middle linebackers in the game. Earlier this season, the Pro Bowler "started a revolution" after the Giants got off to an 0-2 start. Pierce used an air horn to lighten the mood in the locker room one day to mock a reporter during a tense moment. Since then, the Giants have won five straight as they head to London this week to face the Miami Dolphins in the first NFL regular-season game played in Europe. Obviously, the air horn is a key link to victory:
Cole: You're at 5-2 now. What's life like in New York when you're winning?
Pierce: It's a great feeling. When my good friend (and former Redskins teammate) Jessie Armstead was telling me to come to the Giants, he told me that when you're winning, there's no better place to play than New York. The fans really appreciate you and they know the game so well.
Cole: Are you looking forward to London?
Pierce: I'm looking forward to a couple of days off and then getting ready to go. The coaches have lightened up on practice this week, which is smart. Then we go over there on Thursday and just have meetings. We have to make sure we focus on the game, but I know I have to bring an extra bag. Everybody is asking for souvenirs.
Cole: Anything in particular that somebody has asked for?
Pierce: No, not really. Everybody just says, "get me something." I'll figure it out when I get there.
Cole: What's your routine on a normal week? Any big activities on Tuesday?
Pierce: It really starts Monday night. I try to get a really nice dinner and a bunch of us go out as a group; just get together and laugh and take it easy. My favorite place? Del Frisco's Steakhouse. I love that place. The food is great and they take care of me there.
Cole: How many guys go out?
Pierce: We usually have about 12. Everybody goes, like Plax (wide receiver Plaxico Burress), Shock (tight end Jeremy Shockey). We out and watch the Monday night game or maybe see some shows. It's a great time for us to just talk, joke around. We just try to keep it fun, really light. Nothing serious.
Cole: Is football off limits?
Pierce: No, you're always going to get around to talking football. We're usually cutting up on everybody. (I'm) the target this week after I got caught by (San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trent) Dilfer on that interception return. (Pierce returned a pick 28 yards to the San Francisco 5-yard line on Sunday before being run down).
Cole: Yeah, what's up with getting caught by a quarterback?
Pierce: Man, I thought I had turned that corner. It's been like 11 years since I played running back. He should have gotten a penalty on that. He horse-collared me on that tackle. I'm already hearing it: "He got caught by a 40-year-old quarterback." It's going to be bad. I really needed to score on that one.
Cole: All right, so on Tuesday after the big dinner, any plans?
Pierce: No, I really just try to keep off my feet and relax as much as possible. You have to let your body heal up as much as you can so you're ready for the rest of the week. I just watch some TV, keep the feet up.
Cole: No activity at all?
Pierce: Well, I got my dogs and they pretty much will run around all day with me. They have a big yard to go play in and they just enjoy themselves.
Cole: What kind of dogs?
Pierce: They're … (long pause) the name for them is American Stafford Terriers.
Cole: Pit bulls?
Pierce: Yeah, they're pits. But they're my dogs and they're not for fighting. You have to be careful about that these days. Everybody is asking since they're up on my web site.
Cole: So you've been asked a bunch of questions about them since the offseason?
Pierce: Yeah, they're big muscular, beautiful dogs. But there's nothing stupid going on. They're just my dogs. I have three of them and I've had dogs since I was in college.
Cole: How old?
Pierce: They're 3, 2 and 11 months.
Cole: I was talking to Troy Polamalu earlier this offseason and he said three dogs were equal to one child. Are you buying that?
Pierce: Troy is a little different. He's a good guy, but a little different.
Cole: So that's it, just rest and playing with the dogs?
Pierce: I try to make all the phone calls I need to do for the week to family and friends, make any travel arrangements if people are coming in or if somebody wants tickets.
Cole: You don't let somebody else handle the tickets?
Pierce: No, I want to know exactly how much I'm doing so I know how much it's costing me. I don't need to let other people spend all my money.