Ottis Anderson knows the drill. He fully expects that next Friday, when the New York Giants submit their list of unprotected players for Plan B free agency, his name will be right up there on top.

Is that any way to treat the Super Bowl MVP?"It's more than likely," Anderson said of his Plan B prospects. "It's been a tradition the last two years."

Twice, Anderson has been available and twice he's been ignored in the Plan B draft, dismissed as too old with too many miles on him.

Each time, he has returned to the Giants and played a key role in their offense. He rushed for 1,023 yards the first time, then went over 10,000 yards for his career the second time.

And now has the Super Bowl MVP trophy tucked under his arm. Don't expect him to drop it either. Anderson doesn't fumble.

He carried 21 times for 102 yards and one touchdown in the Giants' 20-19 victory over Buffalo Sunday. He ate up the clock for New York, keeping the ball out of Jim Kelly's hands.

"A good offense is a good defense," Anderson said, "and a good defense is keeping the ball away from Jim Kelly."

That was the Giants' plan and Anderson was a key part of it.

"He's going to Canton," coach Bill Parcells said. "I don't see how they can keep the kid out."

Did he say "kid"?

Anderson is no kid. There were 33 candles on his last birthday cake, ancient for an NFL running back. He has played in this league for 12 years. Those are the numbers that make Anderson a perpetual Plan B guy, a gamble nobody wants to take.

He laughs at the irony of that.

"I don't feel old," Anderson said. "I feel like I did at 24 or 25."

Runs like it, too.

"Anyone who watched him (Sunday) knows he can still do it," Parcells said. "The mettle is the test of time and he's met it."

Time. That always seems to come up when people talk about Anderson. He's the Methuselah of the NFL. And the calendar doesn't lie. Anderson is elderly for an NFL running back, hardly likely to be carrying the ball 21 times. That's a young man's workload.

Anderson thought it was no big deal. "I wanted to do it," he said. "I knew I could do it. I've done it in the past. I'm a player. I like to play."

Anderson doesn't fool himself. He knows that his future is behind him, and that if Rodney Hampton hadn't broken his leg in the playoff game against Chicago, he would have been the centerpiece in the Giant ground game.

That would have made Anderson an afterthought, a role he often occupied in New York.

He arrived in 1986, dismissed by the Cardinals as used-up after seven seasons - the usual shelf-life for an NFL running back. The Giants grabbed him as an insurance policy.

"In 1986, I was a utility man, a backup to Joe Morris," Anderson said. "In 1987 we had the strike. From then on, I was a candidate for `Where is he now?"'

He carried just two times the entire season, spending all his time on the sidelines, musing over what he knew and apparently nobody else did.

"I couldn't believe they weren't using me," he said. "I knew I could still play."

He might have been the only one. The Giants gave him the ball just 65 times in 1988 and he produced only 208 yards - one good game's production for him in the old days.

That made him perfect for Plan B. But if the Giants didn't want him, neither did anyone else. When he was ignored by the rest of the league, New York extended a training camp invitation, a courtesy to the old-timer, for old time's sake.

In 1989, the courtesy became a 1,000-yard season, the sixth of Anderson's career.

In 1990, it became 10,000 yards for his career and the Super Bowl MVP.

And next week? Plan B, says Anderson. For sure. "I should be," he said.

Believe the man. He's pretty good on predictions.

"I said a long time ago that if I got to play in a Super Bowl, I'd be the most valuable player."

And that's what he is today.