By: Bob George/BosSports.net
January 29, 2008

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When this writer was at graduate school in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Bo Schembechler had one of the more reliable kickers of his legendary tenure. Ali Haji-Sheikh helped Bo to his first two bowl wins (1981 Rose Bowl, 1981 Bluebonnet Bowl), then entered the NFL in 1983 as kicker for the Giants. In his rookie season (which was also Bill Parcells' first year), he led the league with 35 made field goals (out of 42 attempts) and was 13 of 13 on field goals from 20 to 29 yards. But he never regained his 1983 excellence, and played only four more seasons in the NFL, two with the Giants, one each with Atlanta and Washington. Haji-Sheikh booms one into the end zone, downed for a touchback.

Talk about a hot topic for Media Day at the Super Bowl: The war of the newspapers and their pre-sales of championship books.

Yes, it's true, you could have found a pre-order for a book on Amazon.com, entitled 19-0: The Historic Championship Season of New England's Unbeatable Patriots, authored by the supremely confident people at the Globe. Amazon has since pulled it, but the damage might have been done. Or had it?

Late reports from a Globe blog says that the Herald had a similar book out there for pre-order, called New England Patriots: 2008 Super Bowl Champions. The Globe is complaining that the Herald felt compelled to complain about the Globe touting such a book, but the Herald won't own up to doing the same.

So now Tom Coughlin has plenty of ammo in firing up his troops on Sunday, no? The Globe blog added that Amazon has similar books touting a Giant Super Bowl win. Whew.

Geek of the week: So now that all the newspapers cancel each other out, we'll let Plaxico Burress take over as this week's doofus with this little gem: He predicts a 23-17 Giant win and guarantees it, saying that "You have to believe in your team" (thanks, Globe bloggers). Coughlin was nearby, heard this prediction, and suddenly wore a "grim expression" on his face.

So, let's reconnoiter: The papers already want you to buy their book. Burress already knows the final score. Osi Umenyiora thinks the Patriots are dirty. The only people still shutting up and/or saying the right things?

You tell me who knows how to handle Super Bowl week better. And yes, it will make a difference on Sunday.

Think the Giants have an advantage training in Glendale where the Cardinals train? Let's examine.

The Giants are in state of the art facilities, yes, but the Cardinals haven't won much of anything since World War II. Bad karma.

The Patriots, meanwhile, are out in the East Valley, training in Tempe and crashing in Scottsdale, away from the center of the storm. The Patriots will probably spend Saturday night somewhere either in Sedona or Flagstaff, anywhere far away from the media crush.

Now, who figures to be more relaxed and better prepared this week?

Does Tom Brady now know how Princess Di felt?

Let's hope he soon knows how Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana felt.

Penny for Peyton Manning's thoughts. Subject: How does it feel seeing baby bro out there instead of you?

Back to school: This is a homecoming of sorts for one Patriot linebacker in particular. A few miles down I-10 in Tucson is the University of Arizona, where an undersized defensive lineman named Tedy Bruschi became quite a linebacker in the NFL. Bear down, Tedy!

Watching the Patriot plane land at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport on Sunday was funny. After leaving a snowstorm in Massachusetts, the last thing the Patriots expected in the Valley of the Sun was more bad weather. It was cold and rainy when the Patriots touched down.

But it was sunny and clear when the Giants pulled in the next day.

You know the weather doesn't matter on Sunday. They can close the roof.

Fox gets the Super Bowl, so New England fans get to hear a lot of Joe Buck again.

Stop complaining. The guy is a good luck charm. The Red Sox are 8-0 in World Series games he has called. The Patriots won the only other Super Bowl he called.

And repeat, he is not a Yankee fan. He does Cardinals games. The guy rocks. Dude.

At least you don't have to listen to Tim McCarver.

Oh, and Troy Aikman and his family took in a World Series game at Fenway when he was in town to do the Patriots-Redskins game this year. He had his whole family with him. And best of all, the former Cowboy quarterback was wearing a Sox hat.

Think about this: Fox has done four Super Bowls, and the Patriots have been in three of them.

Remember him: Patriot Nation stopped to grieve over the weekend at the passing of former head coach Mike Holovak. He was the second head coach in team history, and for many years was the winningest Patriot head coach until Bill Belichick passed him up. Holovak had the Patriots for most of the years in Boston, and his teams always did well, climaxing with the 1963 playoff run and the great 1964 season which fell short thanks to a Buffalo team that was a little better. Holovak was always charged with making a silk purse out of a sow's ear thanks to the tight budgets the Sullivans always made him work with, and gained a lot of respect in doing so. Holovak was also a Patriot in a broad sense, thanks to his experience as a PT boat skipper in the U.S. Navy. A real-life Quinton McHale, he was credited with sinking nine Japanese ships during World War II. This year has been dedicated largely to Marquise Hill, the Patriot defensive lineman who passed away over the summer, but it would do Holovak very nicely if all Patriot fans included the former coach in their thoughts on Sunday.

The big game is almost here. The players have to shut up, but we don't have to. Enjoy the game, and here is how we see it turning out.

Eli's comin', hide your heart, girl

His passing of late has turned him into quite a pearl.

Osi and Plaxico don't want to shut up

So it will be harder for the Giant team to put up.

You've all seen and heard about Brady's sore ankle

Is it true or not? For the Giants, that's sure to rankle

There's a ton of history at stake for the Patriots, you know

So when all is done, your team should finish 19 and 0.


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