Collins is the week's biggest star so far
Sports Illustrated's Peter King will file daily reports from Super Bowl XXXV. Check back tomorrow through Sunday by 1:30 p.m. ET to, in King's words, "find the good, the bad, the ugly and the latte of Super Bowl week.
TAMPA, Fla. -- I continue to be (pick one) amazed; astounded; extraordinarily surprised; all of the above about how Kerry Collins is handling the worst times of his life in this, the biggest week of his life.
You probably know by now what a solid, cleansing job Collins did Monday night in the 35-minute grilling he endured from the national press. He addressed all of his past problems -- accusations of racism, the real story of his alcoholism, charges that he quit the Carolina Panthers in mid-1998. He continued his impressive early week performance Tuesday morning at the annual Super Bowl media day, as 2,300 reporters asked him all kinds of crazy questions.
"You talk about this like you're talking about the weather," I said to Collins halfway through his second media session of the week.
Collins just shrugged. "I'm at peace with a lot of that stuff," he told me. "Over the years I've just come to some sort of peace about it and I've got to move on with my life. I've been told my story is inspirational to some people so I guess this comes with some sort of responsibility, to try and help people if I can."
A reporter from Black Entertainment Television asked Collins if he watched his network. Collins said he did. The fellow then asked Collins if he had any messages for young people today.
Collins again responded in the affirmative. He said he wanted to thank Giants fans for supporting him. He explained that he worked with Big Brothers and Big Sisters and liked the experience of helping young people. And he added, "If you think anything in your life is insurmountable, I am living proof that it's not."
What Collins has done here in 24 hours is take the festering boil that was his personal life, lance it and show it to all of America. It's amazing to me that a guy who had trouble handling any sort of pressure while in Carolina and New Orleans can handle discussing his most painful personal details so freely with total strangers. Funny thing is, Collins was only supposed to talk about the personal stuff Monday night. But as wave after wave of the media came to his podium on the side of the Raymond James Stadium field Tuesday morning, he didn't shy away from a single question. Again.
This says so much about how Collins has matured, and it says a lot about what happens to a man when people show faith in him after the whole world has treated him like the dirt on the bottom of a shoe. Giants coach Jim Fassel and general manager Ernie Accorsi spoke, on Media Day, of looking Collins in the eye when he was at his nadir two years ago and getting the strong sense that this was a man ready to make a sea change in his life. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The Giants rightfully took a lot of heat for signing Collins to such a big contract. And they deserve to be patted on the back just as much now for having given a good player and a pretty darned good person a second chance.
Weird Media Note of the Day
In the middle of the Giants interview session, cornerback Dave Thomas walked around with his own handycam, interviewing random media folk. He approached me. I said, "Put me on."
He turned the camera on me and said, "Tell me the truth: What did you think of our secondary this season?"
"I dogged you bigtime," I said. "Until you showed Randy Moss who was boss."
"I like that," Thomas said. "That'll work."
Luncheon Menu of the Day
Me: 8 oz. filet (medium well), mixed vegetables, potato cakes, sparkling water, coffee
Armstead: 12 oz. filet (medium well), steak fries (but no other vegetables), Coke
I learned something very revealing about Armstead today. He would not eat the house steak sauce at Shula's. "I need A-1," he told the nervous-looking waiter. The waiter explained to Armstead that this was the sauce of the house and he wasn't sure that he'd be able to find A-1. Armstead looked at him firmly, though not menacingly. "I really need that A-1," he said. "I grew up using A-1 on my steaks and I've done it all my life." After three or four minutes, the waiter brought over a fresh bottle of Shula's sauce and a bottle of A-1. Armstead was pleased. The tip was large.
1. I think the most humorous part of my day so far has been going through the drive-thru window at Starbucks and having the man in the passenger seat of my rental car, Paul Zimmerman, tell me about his everlasting frustration in dealing with Starbucks. "I never can get it right when I go to Starbucks. I just start throwing out the terms 'latte,' 'vanilla', 'grande,' 'two percent' and they look at me like I'm an idiot because I don't know how to order. I mean, there's a whole different language that goes on at Starbucks that I just can't master."
2. I think the field at Raymond James Stadium is as beautiful a grass surface as I've ever seen at a Super Bowl site. It's flawless.
3. I think that when Brian Billick looks back on his Super Bowl experience, he will not look fondly on the time he spent chastising the press. To me, it serves no purpose. All it does is make the Ray Lewis story bigger than what Billick wants it to be.
4. I think I still haven't decided which team I will pick to win, but I would give the Giants one piece of advice: Keep the ball out of Ron Dayne's hands. I think he is a horrible match against a gap-less Ravens front.
5. I think the more I hear about coaching vacancies in the NFL right now, the more I think Marvin Lewis will sign with Cleveland a week from today for the most money and the most responsibility he can get from any of the teams still with an opening.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King covers the NFL and appears
regularly on CNN/Sports Illustrated and CNN's NFL Preview.