Posted: Wednesday February 1, 2012 1:14 AM

Serena Williams cheers for Giants in Super Bowl

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - From the heart of Patriots country, Serena Williams is cheering for the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.

"I always root for the younger brother,'' she said Tuesday at a news conference for this weekend's Fed Cup matches between the United States and Belarus.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning will be going for his second NFL title; his brother, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, is five years older and has won one Super Bowl. Serena Williams is 15 months younger than her sister and Fed Cup teammate, Venus.

The Americans will face Belarus and new world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the first round of the Fed Cup this weekend in Worcester, Mass. At the news conference, each member of the American team (minus Venus Williams) picked a Super Bowl winner.

Christina McHale and captain Mary Joe Fernandez also took the Giants. Liezel Huber picked the Patriots, though she didn't recognize Chad Ochocinco's No. 85 jersey she was given to hold up. A six-time Pro Bowl selection, Ochocinco has 15 catches and one touchdown while seeing little playing time during New England's Super Bowl run.

"He danced well on `Dancing with the Stars,'' Fernandez told her.

Serena Williams took the Giants, but that wasn't really her first choice.

"I was rooting for the Dolphins,'' she said. "We didn't do so well.''

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O'BRIEN'S CHALLENGES: Plotting how to keep Tom Brady out of the clutches of the Giants' fearsome pass rushers will occupy most of Bill O'Brien's waking hours this week, and who knows how many of his dreams.

But it's not his only worry.

The Patriots offensive coordinator will succeed the late Joe Paterno as coach at Penn State after the Super Bowl and has been forced to do most of his recruiting by long distance and count on his newly assembled staff back in State College, Pa., to lock up the prospects. Wednesday is signing day, when schools announce their prized recruits.

"I already have a pretty good idea of who they're going to be,'' O'Brien said Tuesday, fielding questions about both his jobs - somewhat reluctantly - at Super Bowl media day.

"But right now, it's really more about the Patriots and making sure we're ready for today's practice, tomorrow's meetings and Sunday's game. So it's day-to-day. .. Last week was about Coach Paterno. It was about his memory and what he meant to Penn State and to college football. So it was an emotional time for me, being in the coaching profession.''

O'Brien kept trying to put off questions about his next job, saying what a formidable challenge he faced in the few days left at his current one. And his jaw nearly hit the stadium floor when a just-arrived reporter yelled out, "What does it feel like to be facing the toughest job in the country come Monday?''

Instead, O'Brien rolled his eyes, smiled patiently and began, "Like I said a million times ...''

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WELKER'S `STACHE: Forget about the amazingly precise routes he runs and the diving catches he makes. So what if he breaks free for long touchdowns after grabbing acrobatic receptions? If you want to know the secret to the success of Wes Welker and the New England Patriots, it may be right under your nose.

Or his.

His good-luck mustache.

"Somebody on Twitter told me, `You know, every time you've gone with the mustache we haven't lost a game,' " Welker said Tuesday, "And so I was like, `You know what, you're right. Time for a playoff `stache.' So this has kind of been the deal and it's gotten us to this point so we got to keep on rocking it.''

Welker said he sported a mustache for about a month during the 2007 season. The Patriots were 18-0 before their quest for a perfect season ended with a 17-14 loss to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.

Now the teams are back in the championship game.

"So,'' Welker said of his mustache, "here it is.''

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Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cliffbruntap

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AP Sports Writer Jimmy Golen in Boston contributed to this report.

 
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