November 29 , 2006
Q: Aside from the usual coach’s speak about taking it one game at a time, could you talk about the importance and the sense of urgency for this game on Sunday?
A: We’ve had several of those in a row. We were 3-3 and kind of backed up. We were looking at three road games in a row and that’s not that pretty of a picture, so we’ve kind of had that a little bit of (that) sense for quite awhile here. Of course, this is a big game for us. We’re getting ready to head for the stretch, so I think the players are aware of that. I’m sure the Giants players are as well.
Q: What has it been like with Tony Romo and how is he handling all of the attention?
A: I think he’s doing well – I really do. You know, he’s not a rookie player and this is his fourth year here. He’s seen a lot. I think two of the big advantages he had as a young player was being exposed to Vinny Testaverde and (Drew) Bledsoe – two veteran guys. I think that experience as much as anything has been helpful for him in understanding what really playing quarterback in the NFL is like. It’s not like another position because the inner sanctum of the quarterback – their meetings are basically with their coach and just one or two other guys. The dialogue is much more one-on-one and you know you can collect a lot of information from an experienced player. Tony has mentioned to me probably eight or 10 times how beneficial his time with Vinny was because Vinny’s preparation was very meticulous. I think Tony learned a lot from watching that.
Q: A month ago the Giants were challenging the Bears for best in the conference and you seemingly were struggling. Are you ever surprised at how quickly things change in this league?
A: Not anymore. It just seems like you don’t really know what’s going to happen any week that you go out there. We were struggling, there isn’t any doubt about it. I got a lot of calls from a lot of my ex-players – letters, e-mails, calls and some personal visits. I appreciate that very much. But you have to put things away and go forward. There’s always next week and that’s one of the great things about the game. It can be a very exciting thing and it can also be very humbling. It never changes in that regard and when you have as much experience as I have now, you just understand it. It doesn’t make you any more able to deal with some of the highs and lows, but you do understand it better.
Q: What’s the best thing Romo has done so far?
A: Not turn the ball over. He’s managing the game much better. Now, when he came in against New York the first time, he was a little careless with it. But since that time he’s been pretty good.
Q: Was that just a matter of not having had any playing time and that was his first real taste there?
A: He had extensive playing time in preseason and that’s kind of what convinced me that he was going to be ready to play at some point. I’ve mentioned this several times here to the media: Had he played his first or second year…he’d probably be out of football. That’s the way it is nowadays with young quarterbacks. Sometimes they come in and they get thrown in there and everybody’s happy to see that, but they don’t think about the far-reaching effects it can have. With a player like Tony who really didn’t play big-time college football, he just needed time to get ready. He’s just taking baby-steps now.
Q: Do you think you’re getting the Giants here at a good time? There’s a lot of controversy on and off the field and they are coming off a tough game at Tennessee.
A: I think they’ll rally up and I think that they’re still our main competition in the division, without question. They beat us pretty badly down here the first time. They played well and we played poorly, and the combination of that made it very one-sided. I’m expecting a very tough game. Any time you play a division game, in the division on the road, it’s going to be tough. Just in light of what happened the first time, I know we’re going to have to play a lot better or we’re not going to win.
Q: Were you actually bothered at all by Jeremy Shockey’s supposed guarantee, and does that stuff ever really work for motivation?
A: I really didn’t hear…All I’m getting (of) this stuff is second-hand, really, so I don’t really know. But like I said down here yesterday, sometimes these kids, they say things. It gets distorted and it gets out of context really quickly nowadays with the kind of scrutiny (players are under). What the intent of the player’s statement is sometimes – I’m not talking about Shockey. I’m talking about any player – By the time it gets to the newspapers with the headline writers it’s changed quite a bit. I don’t really pay a lot of attention to it.
Q: But it sure is great for a veteran coach to use that as motivation for his players.
A: I haven’t said anything about it directly here this week since we started practice, so it may be, but it might be for a later time.
Q: What about indirectly?
A: No, I haven’t said indirectly, either.
Q: Last year you had to come up here in almost the same situation to have to knock the Giants off to regain the division. It appears the same way this year again.
A: It’s not the same way, I can tell you that, because we’re (not) coming off a loss on Thanksgiving. This team is not the same kind of team as last year’s team was. I don’t feel it’s the same way. It is the same record situation, but I don’t feel it’s the same way.
Q: How is the team different?
A: I think we’ve played our best football in the last month here, whereas last year I don’t think we were doing that at the time we came up there. And we had, as the Giants have experienced injuries, we had a couple of tackles in trouble last year. That match-up really hurt us there in New York because their defensive ends are good players.
Q: Aside from Romo, what has made the team so much better in the last month?
A: I think, first of all, our defense is…A lot of these young defensive linemen are second-year guys now. My team leaders on defense are four and five-year guys now. Four-year guys – Bradie (James) and Terence Newman, Roy Williams. And then I have Jason Ferguson. That helps keep the young linemen squared away. We just have…Losing (Greg) Ellis was big for us because he was a pressure-player and he was our team captain – just a lot of things that are important. He’s really a good kid and a hard working practice player, all of those things. I just think overall our team is 1) more experienced and 2) better understanding of what it takes to get the job done. I’m not saying a complete understanding by any stretch, but we have a better understanding now of how to approach things than we did last year at this time.
Q: Is would have been understandable early in the year if you thought about packing it in after this year with all of the problems with the team and Terrell Owens and all of the controversy. Does winning reenergize you?
A: Winning always reenergizes you and I didn’t view what was going on nationally with the publicity around Terrell the same way that I think a lot of people did because my team has been pretty much steady. Not without some shaky days – we’ve had some shaky days, game-wise, but I think they’re starting to see where some of their hard work is paying off for them. It’s really obvious to them, as our performance improves. But we still have a lot of work to do here and there’s a lot of football left. As you’ve seen in the last month, a team’s fortunes can change very quickly in this league and probably will. So we have a ways to go, but I hope that we’re headed in the right direction. I think we’re going to be in the race for a little while, anyway.
Q: Does winning put the silence on the Owens stuff?
A: No, I wouldn’t say that. I just think probably more Romo than…He went from being an orphan to the adopted son of everybody in about three weeks.
Q: Do you ever tire of dealing with the kind of hysteria and knowing that Romo has now become your national story?
A: Romo is a pretty smart kid and he’s been around me for awhile. I’m trying to keep him settled down, and that’s not really too hard to do because he’s a football guy. He likes football, it’s very important to him. Very important to him. And he’s competitive. He’s like a street player – He really is. It’s like the park. That’s the kind of kid he is. He enjoys that and he understands competition pretty well, so it’s not as hard to keep a player that understands competition. That’s the way it was with Lawrence (Taylor). When I had Lawrence there in New York, just show him the competition and he was ready to go for it. Now, if he didn’t think it was any competition, you might have to talk him into it.
Q: He seems to have taken to the trappings of fame – he’s in the gossip pages now. What do you do to level off…
A: Again, I think the national impression and what…You can’t stop this stuff. It’s like a germ-carrier. It goes from coast to coast in like two minutes. What are you going to do? ‘Oh, this guy’s dating this guy.’
Q: Do you want to rephrase that?
A: Yeah, maybe I’d better.
Q: How often do you look back to your ’86 season and what place does that hold in your heart as a coach?
A: Let me tell you what I think about the most: Of course I think about it, because it was the first time. I think about it often and I think about the game, the Super Bowl – I do that. But --and I’m not being corny here --the thing that’s really touched me the most – and it’s really happened a lot in the last year or two – is just…I don’t know what it is. Maybe they feel sorry for me, maybe they want to get one more jab in at me before I’m…It’s just this outpouring of my former players. I’m not talking about three or four, now. I mean, it’s in the 40’s or 50’s. I had two guys yesterday that I hadn’t heard from in a year or two. George Adams – now he lives down here in Dallas – called me on the phone. ‘How’re you doing? Let’s get lunch.’ Just these guys…I don’t know. I can’t explain it to you. It means everything to me. It really does, because Richie Anderson calls and leaves a message on Thanksgiving telling me how thankful he is for everything. It’s just special. It really is. It makes me feel good. It really does. That’s what I think about, because those are my guys and that’s really all that’s important. That’s what the game is about. It’s not about the glory, it’s not about the display and all of that stuff. I’m not trying to be sentimental here. I’m just telling you what’s important is (Jim) Burke comes down there to the Carolina game and I said, ‘I appreciate you coming.’ And he says to me – he doesn’t even blink an eye – He says, ‘It was time. You taught us all when it was time.’ You know, just stuff like that. That means a lot to me. Don’t get me sentimental, here.
Q: That said, is it still special to come back to Giants Stadium, and which sideline will Jim Burke be on on Sunday?
A: There’s a lot of people in the organization that I worked with and I have a good regard for, but it’s the competition now. They know me and I know them, and they know what it’s about. When the game’s over we’ll shake hands and wish each other the best, and that’s the way it’s always been. I’m just sad because Wellington (Mara)’s not there. That makes me sad. It’s not quite the same without him.
Q: Is it still possible for you to forge those types of connections, or were things different back then? Is it more difficult with today’s player?
A: No, I don’t think it’s different with today’s player. I really don’t, because I think it is possible. I still think it, because I’m not just hearing from the Giants players. I’m hearing from New England and the Jets players and, like I just mentioned, Richie Anderson and guys like that, and guys that have played here already and that aren’t here anymore. I think it is possible. I think it’s just what happens with you and some guys. I don’t know, I don’t want to sound corny. It’s just, that’s what means the most to me because you know when you hear from them that some way you touched them, you did the right thing by them or whatever. You just know it’s there. You just get letters out of the blue. Guys you haven’t talked to in eight or nine years. ‘I wanted to write you and tell you and thank you for-’ That’s the truth. That’s happened five or six times this year. It’s just been great.
Q: Because of your affection for New York, did that game down there hurt more than most?
A: Sure. When you’re on Monday night and you get embarrassed and your team looks like a rag-a-mop team, sure it hurts. None of us are proud of that. Hey, and that’s one of the great things about putting yourself at risk in this business for as long as I can. You know what can happen to you, and it’s a humbling game. It’s a humbling game. You can get punched in the nose and knocked out just like anybody else and that’s just the way it is. But that’s also the fun part of it. That’s also the juice, you know? That’s also what gets you going.
Q: Do you see all of the pieces falling into place now for the Cowboys?
A: No, I think it’s a little too early. Give me another three weeks. (In) another three weeks, I think I’ll know. I think I’ll know.
Q: What’s your diagnosis of Eli Manning’s struggles?
A: First of all, I don’t know the player. I don’t know him personally, so what I could say is irrelevant anyway. All I can tell anybody about any young quarterback in any major city in this country that’s a developing player (is) that there’s going to be some ups and downs. My guy down here just hasn’t had a down day yet, but he’s going to have one and we all know it. It just goes with the territory. It’s just being able to get through those tough periods and have the wherewithal – I mean, look at (Phil) Simms. Look what he went through. Think back. Think back. It’s hard on all of them and I don’t envy them. (It’s a) tough job.
Q: Of all of the minuses from that first Giants game, is the positive that that was the game that forced the move to Romo?
A: I don’t know. I would guess if you wanted to call that a positive, I guess you could. But I think any time you make a decision like that it’s a difficult one, and you don’t do it without quite a bit of deliberation. But we’re going to have to play a lot better than we played that day.
Q: Can you empathize with what Tom Coughlin is going through now?
A: Again, I’m not there so I don’t really know exactly, but I can empathize with any coach in the NFL. I see their faces every Sunday or every Monday night. We’re all the same. We’re all the same. As the late George Young used to say, ‘It’s not a game for well-adjusted people.’
Transcript: Dallas Quarterback Tony Romo
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November 29 , 2006
Q: What is the primary reason for your success this past month?
A: I don’t know. I would say it is just preparation. Our team’s ability execute right now is pretty high. We prepare each week like it is the most important game of the season. Each week that goes on here now all of a sudden it is. I think we are just putting in a lot of time throughout the week preparing.
Q: Specifically, you as compared to the almost ‘deer-in-headlights’ look you had when you came in the second half of the Giants game?
A: Yeah, I definitely was a little disappointed in my performance there. But I don’t know. I don’t know what is different. For me I don’t know what has allowed us to do some good things. But we are just quick and we are executing better. I don’t know personally – I don’t have a finger on it I guess.
Q: Could you describe just kind of how your life has changed; how much more interaction with Coach Parcells; your meetings, just how much things have changed now that you are the starter.
A: I think I’m the guy who really doesn’t really want to go into the game chancing certain things. Like if something doesn’t (feel) right then I want to get it sorted out. I want to get it to a point where I feel, “Hey, we need to run it like this. We need to do this again. We need to work on this.” And I’ll go up and talk to each player on the side, do what I have to do to be on the same page as them. And I’ll talk to the coaches – stuff you like, stuff you don’t like. I just feel as though when it became my position as the quarterback here, I wasn’t just going to let things, I guess, be to chance. And I’m going to feel 100% ready and prepared when Sunday rolls around.
Q: Do you have a sense of kind of being caught up as a ‘national story.’ I’m reading about dating Jessica Simpson. There are just a lot of stories out there about you. Do you have a sense of that? How are you handling all of that?
A: I heard things from time to time, but when you play in this game you have tunnel vision. And sometimes you are just, boom, as soon as you get a win or as soon as you play a game, all of a sudden the next day it’s, “Hey, let’s get prepared for this game; for this team.” I just think that our big win versus the Colts a few weeks back, we had Tampa Bay that Thursday – four days to get ready. So you don’t really think about all of this stuff that is going on. You just say, “Get back to work.” And you go to work Monday morning and you starting watching film of the next opponent and you are there – you are doing it. You don’t have time to reflect or to do any of that stuff. I think that allows me to basically just keep going forward; keep getting better. And just try to keep winning ball games.
Q: What do you see when you see this Giants defense that has been so depleted by injury? And how much of an impact do you think Umenyiora’s possible return would have on the game Sunday?
A: We are pretty much going in expecting almost everyone to play, so we will find out when they first come out as to who is playing and who is not. But, yeah, we are going into it thinking that everyone is going to play for them. And we will go with it when they don’t. But I don’t know. I’m not sure. I know he will have a big impact. He is a great player. We will have to definitely do some things to try and slow him down. But we are kind of doing our thing and we are just thinking about ourselves right now. And if we can execute our side of the ball and do what we are suppose to, usually good things happen.
Q: How much of a sense do you have that if you beat the Giants on Sunday it is the final nail in their coffin?
A: Just like I said, we are not really thinking about them right now. We are trying to continue to go forward. We know if we get a win it helps us out a lot. If we get a loss we are back into fighting for our lives again. I know the Giants are in a tough situation as well. But I’m not really thinking about what happens to them the rest of the season. I’m really worried about us.
Q: What are the two or three most important things that Bill Parcells has said to you since you took over?
A: I don’t know that a whole bunch is way more important than another. We talk a bunch. We talk about just a lot of different things outside of just – what is going on this week, we’ll talk old school football stuff and everything. I learn a lot from him all of the time. One of the things he stress now is just to, you have to be able to come right back out when you are sore and hurting and everything on Wednesday and go do it again. You have to be that same guy. You have to be like the guy you were on Sunday. You can’t let it slip. That’s just what I have been trying to do.
Q: He was telling us earlier - when we spoke to Coach Parcells - that he has told you upon occasion if you had played your first or second year, he thinks you would be out of football by now. Is that maybe true and was it worth the wait if that is indeed the case?
A: I don’t know that I would have been as successful, definitely. As in any case the longer you wait, sometimes the more prepared you are. But I don’t know. I think I was raw. I think I had pretty good instincts when I was younger. But I also think I was probably a little too inaccurate and just made some bone-head decisions sometimes that kind of drove him nuts. But I think I have learned to harness that a little bit; to manage the game the way it is suppose to be. And I think it is helping us a little bit.
Q: What do you think are the aspects of your own personality that have translated into – I think that I was reading that all of your teammates call you ‘cool’ all of the time. What do you think about the aspects of your personality that have made you able to lead the offense?
A: Well, first off, I’m not that cool. I think they are joking around with you guys. But I just think that I want to win. I’m very passionate about the game. I’m a football guy 24-7, and I want to win and I’m very competitive. I think the guys see that and they want to be around someone who wants to win as badly as I do. The one trait that Bill and I have in common is that we will do whatever we can to help this team win and at the end of the day it is not about people’s feelings getting hurt or anything like that. It is about finding a way to get the job done. And we will do whatever is in our power to get that done.
Q: Should we read anything into the Jessica Simpson report?
A: No you don’t have to. I actually told the guys yesterday that Jessica and I are not dating. So no one has to write about that. Very funny, though. But anyhow, I guess there are worse things.
Q: How did your coach take all of those reports, though? He is not the kind that coddles the limelight a lot.
A: No he’s definitely not. He’s a lot funnier than – I guess you guys probably see it once in a while, but with me, he and I have a really good relationship. He’ll needle me for sure.