EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey, AP
Lawrence Taylor reminded the New York Giants on Saturday to do whatever it takes to beat the Minnesota Vikings and get to the Super Bowl. “You’ve got what you want right here,” Taylor said in capping a five-minute speech that kept players riveted on every word. “You can’t ask for anything better than this: playing this game, you’re 60 minutes away, here at Giants Stadium. “It can’t be any better than that,” the Hall of Fame linebacker added. “From the bottom of my heart, we’re proud of you, and whatever it takes: get it done.” Taylor’s speech ended an emotional final workout on the eve of the conference championship between the Giants (13-4) and Vikings (12-5). Eight members of the Giants’ Super Bowl championship teams of 1986 and 1990 watched the final 30-minute walk-through in a practice facility next to the stadium. The Giants did not allow the reporters to attend the final workout, but provided a text of Taylor’s speech and comments from players.
“I’m here to tell you how proud we — myself and my teammates — are of you as a team,” said Taylor, who helped returned the Giants to greatness in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. “You know what’s going on and you know what’s at stake: supremacy and going to the Super Bowl. “Most of us played our whole career as a Giant, and to be a Giant is very special and very dear to us, and we care about what happens to you guys. We’re really proud of you. You’ve worked hard and you’ve done the little things to get the job done, but it’s not over yet. There’s still one more game to go before you get the prize. I know how special it was, how exciting it was. This is what it’s all about.” The Giants have been 2-to-3 point underdogs all week, but Taylor insisted that was no different in either the 1986 conference championship game against Washington or the 1990 game at San Francisco. Taylor said no one thought the Giants would be able to beat the Redskins three times in 1986 or that New York would be able to win at the 49ers. Beating San Francisco was especially satisfying because the 49ers already had sent equipment to Tampa, Florida, for the Super Bowl. “I wanted our former players here today because I thought it was important for my team to understand the tradition they represent,” Fassel said. “This wasn’t about pep talks or rah-rah speeches. It was about understanding the moment, and there is no better way to communicate what this moment means than to have the players who have lived through it explain it.” Halfback Tiki Barber called the speech inspiring. “It gives you a lot to look back at,” Barber said. “They accomplished a lot and that gives us something to shoot for. How are people going to remember this team 10 years from now? Seeing the former players makes you want to put your mark on something and make it special. “We have to carry on that legacy,” Barber added. Defensive tackle Keith Hamilton walked out of the bubble after the speech with Martin, another defensive lineman who wore No. 75. “As a defensive player, a lot of those guys who came in today set the tempo and precedent on how defense is supposed to be played,” Hamilton said. “What we are trying to do now is just keep that going.” Having the veterans on hand helped put the game in perspective, defensive end Michael Strahan said. “This is something special. What he told us is we’re a team,” Strahan said. “Individuals can go out there and play as individuals and get beaten, but they can’t beat you as a team.
He was saying not to worry about the other team and who your opponent is. That doesn’t matter. What matters is how you go out and perform, and I think that is the focus we need to have.” After the speech, quarterback Kerry Collins said the current Giants are responsible for upholding the team’s tradition.