Tom Coughlin announced that he will not rest his starters when the Giants play the Patriots Saturday night. Needless to say this news is not good news as far as many users of FanNation are concerned. Especially so for Giants fans. In fact, it almost amounts to criminal negligence as it relates to failing to protect his team from almost certain pain and humiliation at the hands of the Patriot juggernaut.
The prevailing wisdom, of course, is that it's foolish to risk having one of your starters injured in the course of a "meaningless" game. Win or lose, the outcome will have no impact on the Giants or their standings. Coughlin should be getting ready for the playoffs, says anyone who knows anything about football. He should treat the week as a bye week of sorts.
The Giants should for their own good, basically, just surrender. Mail it in. Why bother? As far as John Q Public and the sports media is concerned, the Giants don't stand a chance in the game.
Nobody of any value at all should be allowed on the field. And if any starter who does play gets hurt then Coughlin will almost certainly be arrested tried and convicted of gross sports negligence. He'll be sued by the entire Giants fan base... all 12 of them... in civil court for breach of contract. And he will lose BIG TIME!
After all, football, as much as it's a game, is also a business. Teams are in the business of producing as many victories as possible for the fans. The players are assets as far as the teams owners are concerned. Any good businessman wouldn't risk his assets unless there was the possibility of a good return, a win, on the investment. Losing a player during a game that counts for nothing could destroy the chance for a playoff victory the next week.
While the players by and large play football because they love the game, they are also businessmen in their own right. If they get hurt and miss the playoff opportunity there is a lot to more to lose than just a game. Future contracts can be influenced by their performance in a big game. Endorsements and bonuses can all come into play. There are a lot of sound business reasons why a guy should sit when he gets the chance.
There is a lot of solid logic behind the reasoning for sitting players. It makes good sense both as a team and as a business. It's the right move on a lot of levels...
It just happens to be the wrong move most of the time.
Basically, as a plan, sitting your players stinks.
Sitting players for a week is one sure way to get them out of the rythym they have developed over the course of a season. How many times have we heard it said that simply having to adjust to a week where the team plays on a Saturday or Monday instead of Sunday can throw a teams routine out of whack? Or when a guys misses a week or two because of injury how he needs a game or two to get his game back? And, once lost, we all know how hard it is to get the momentum back on your side.
If your team is on a roll coming into the playoffs the last thing you want to do is put the brakes on. Injuries be damned. If you're going to worry about getting injured you shouldn't be playing football. It can happen anytime during any game. It's no more likely to happen during a "meaningless" game than one that matters.
Playing while trying to avoid an injury makes it impossible to be effective. It's like driving a truck all day for a living. You know that you can be killed at anytime on any day. But it's something that you never think about or else you'll never make it as a truck driver. You can drive defensively... but you can't drive scared. Same thing goes for football. You can't really play effectively when you're trying to play it safe.
While the game is considered "meaningless" as far as the stats and standings are concerned it is anything but for those of us who watch the games. And I'm sure the players who have the chance to play in it have a different view. Games don't get any bigger than this. Any football player who ever walked on a field dreams of playing in a game like this. It's what they live for. As much as players like the money they make, I think they love the game far more than the money. The fame and glory they can achieve have as much to do with what motivates them to risk, not just injury, but their very lives during a game than anything else.
And as far as games go... the game between the Giants and the Patriots matters a lot more than any regular season game ever has. As important as it is to us fans, it should be even more important to any pro football player who ever put on a jersey. In many ways, it's not the Superbowl, it's even bigger than that. Records galore are at stake.
For the Patriots the game means a chance to go down in NFL history as the first team to go undefeated over a 16 game schedule. For The Giants, it means having the chance to be the team that stops the greatest team ever assembled.
As a team, if the Patriots win, it will give them the record for most consecutive regular season wins. The Patriots as a team can break the record for most points scorded in a season. As individuals, Tom Brady will have the chance to break the record for TD's in a season and Randy Moss can break the record for most TD receptions.
As a team, the Giants have the chance to put a stop to all of that.
While everyone is sure the score at the end of the game will be lopsided in the Patriots favor, the score at the start will still be 0 to 0. There is always that old adage "on any given Sunday" to deal with. There's always the possibility that things could happen that none of us forsee. Sure the Giants run the risk of injury that could hurt their playoff chances... but so do the Patriots. Injuries could not only ruin their Superbowl hopes but they could also ruin their chance at going 16 - 0. But the Giants will never know how the game would have gone if they don't even bother suiting up.
If I were in Coughlin's shoes, until the game is out of reach, I would let my best players give it their best shot. A game as big as this one doesn't happen often. A chance to leave you're mark on a place in history. Even losing the team will be remembered forever just for having played.
Sure, most people think the Giants don't have a chance against the Patriots. Those same people think that taking a knee for the entire game is the best way to prepare for the playoffs. Avoid the licking and keep on ticking for at least one more game. For me that's not playing to win... that's how you play not to lose.
If the Giants feel the same way then they really should give it up. And not just for the Patriots game... they should forget about the playoffs altogether. The surest way to lose is to start to think like a loser. Believing you can't win is a sure sign of a loser mentality.
The Giants might not have a much of a chance to beat the Patriots on the field... But they sure can't beat the Patriots while sitting on the bench.
They can rest after the season... they shouldn't even think about resting during the season.
You show me a player who doesn't want to be in this game and I'll show you a phoney in a football players uniform. And if Coughlin "rests" his starters...
Well now THAT would be a crime!