Giants fullback a real-life Rocky
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."
"Sure," he said Thursday morning at the final New York players' media session of the week. "Loved it."
He looked at me quizzically.
I said: "Do you feel like Rocky Balboa going up against Apollo Creed?"
He laughed. Comella, 6-feet and 240 pounds, is a high-hairline, big-shouldered, amiable sort who hits stunningly hard for such a nice man. It will be his job Sunday to make his way through 750 pounds of Tony Siragusa/Sam Adams blob to try to find the 252-pound missile of a middle linebacker, Ray Lewis, and then attempt to block him. No one envies Comella. I figure he must be kind of scared, no matter what he says.
"Lotta parallels," he said about my Rocky angle. "First-round draft choice vs. the undrafted free agent. Defensive Player of the Year vs. the first-year starter. It's fun. It's going to be great. We're all made of the same flesh and blood. In the biggest game of my life, I'm going to face one of the best defensive players in NFL history."
"It's a joy. This is a game I've been waiting for all my life, since I first watched the Super Bowl on a black-and-white TV at age 8. Ray is an aggressive, intimidating player. The speed, the quickness, the incredible athletic ability. I've got to find the alley between those huge defensive tackles and find a way to get to Ray. More than that, his attitude is infectious. It's crucial for us, and for me, to match his intensity from the first snap."
Comella is a Stanford kid. I've been waiting all year to tell my favorite Comella story, the one he told me in October and that, until now, I haven't found a forum for. Thursday, Ron Cook from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sat down at the Comella's table in the Giants' interview tent and went searching for it. The "ticket story," he called it. "The Tiger Woods story, studying for the test," I added.
Cook nodded. "I can't believe no one's asked me that story this week."
The story: Woods, then a Stanford freshman, and Comella, a sophomore at the time, were in a study group for an Art History test just before spring break. "We were all talking more about what we planned to do for spring break rather than studying," Comella said. "Some guys were going to southern California, San Diego, Arizona. Tiger said, 'I'm going to Augusta.' And I was impressed. I said, 'Wow! Do you know the Masters is the toughest ticket in sport? How'd you get one?'"
Said Woods: "Dude, I'm playing in it."
"I mean, there are so many great athletes at Stanford -- Olympic swimmers, baseball players who get drafted. Tiger wasn't Tiger yet. We didn't know."
And Sunday, Tiger will be watching his very obscure classmate in the biggest game on the planet. His very obscure, but now very important classmate.
Bizarre Media Note of the Day
What a country.
Invented Word of the Day
From Baltimore wide receiver Qadry Ismail, on the unselfish nature of the Ravens' offense: "The players on this offense don't quabble over who gets the stats."
Webster's defines "quabble" as "the Ismailish term for fussing, arguing or quibbling over who gets the credit in the Baltimore Ravens' offense."
1. I think there is no question that if Bobby Ross had never quit the Lions in midseason, Gary Moeller would be the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals today.
2. I think there is no cooler head at this Super Bowl than Baltimore defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis, who will be a head coach in four days. My money's on Buffalo.
3. I think Rod Woodson, the Baltimore safety and longtime Lewis ally, is having the time of his life. Lewis said Woodson's attitude this year has, at times, brought tears to his eyes. "He's an extension of me out there in the huddle," Lewis said. "He's such a leader, such an instructor. In big games, great players play great, and I'm looking forward to him playing great on Sunday."
4. I think my Super Bowl prediction will come Friday, but let's just say I'm liking the guys in blue a little bit right now.
5. I think I have never seen a coach handle Super Bowl week with as much aplomb as Jim Fassel. The guy did nine interviews with local New York television affiliates Thursday starting at 11:30 a.m. Man, the relentlessness of this guy.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King covers the NFL and appears
regularly on CNN/Sports Illustrated and CNN's NFL Preview.