The New York Giants have heard it from the naysayers for the past two months, and it has gotten to the point where they've heard enough.
In fact, they think they've heard too much, more than any Super Bowl team deserves to hear."We've been badmouthed all around the league, by other teams, by the so-called experts on TV and a lot of other people," tackle John Elliott said Monday as the Giants arrived in Tampa to prepare for the Super Bowl against Buffalo.
New York comes into the game off a stunning last-second 15-13 win over the two-time defending champion San Francisco 49ers. Buffalo earned the trip to the NFL title game with a 51-3 romp over the Los Angeles Raiders.
For the most part, the Giants' problems seem to lie in how they win. New York just doesn't win like the high-scoring Bills. They plod along, survive the scares and get the job done, which is indicated by their 15-3 record.
Elliott said the frequent slaps have helped the Giants.
"We've been able to use that to become a closer unit," he said. "It gets you to fight harder and play harder. It's a good motivator."
This is a Giants team that will jump on anything for motivation. Elliott said they got some this past weekend from 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr.
"As soon as we got to Frisco we kept on hearing how he was so sure he was going to the Super Bowl that he had the hotel here (Florida) take out all their furniture so he could bring in his own furniture," Elliott said. "We heard it from quite a few people."
Elliott said he was never able to verify the rumors, but he didn't seem to care.
"Anything you can use, what the heck," he said. "It's the old school of Bo (Schembechler), and I know what that's all about."
Elliott's attitude is common among the Giants. Despite going 13-3 in the regular season and winning the NFC East for a second straight year, the team has felt it has not gotten its share of respect. Too often, they said, everyone has focused on the negative things, like the teams's 3-3 finish in its final six regular-season games, its conservative offense and its recent history of not beating the 49ers.
"Last week we beat the heck out of Chicago, and the first thing everyone said was not how well we played, but you're not going to beat San Francisco,' cornerback Mark Collins said. "We came to San Francisco where everyone in the park except my mother and father is rooting against us, and we did a good job."
Now come the Bills, and the oddsmakers have already said nay to the Giants, making them 5-point underdogs.
"I'm sure there were a lot of people who felt we'd win Sunday," Giants punter Sean Landeta said. "But I'm sure there were hundreds more that felt we'd lose.
"So it's kind of natural for us to be upset. So, yes, we're here again and we feel the same as last week. We feel we can win."
Guard Eric Moore said the Giants are learning to ignore the criticism.
"To be honest, I don't care what people think anymore," he said. "You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't. Those people can take care of their own jobs and we'll take care of ours."