INDIANAPOLIS — The last time his team played the Patriots, assistant coach Larry Izzo was a loser even though the Giants came away winners.
Despite New York's win over New England in late November, the first-year special teams assistant was nailed by the Giants' kangaroo court for violating the hugging rule — a $20 fine per hug for greeting his former Patriot teammates before the game.
Izzo, a special teams player for the Patriots who won three Super Bowls and lost another to the Giants in 2008, won't say how much money he handed over that day, but he'd gladly pay the price again if his new team beats his old one in Sunday's Super Bowl.
"I would say that was a low moment as a player as far as you are there and there was a lot on the line, big picture, and we didn't get it done," Izzo recalled about his last trip to the Super Bowl. "We got outplayed. Anytime you have a game like that whether it's the Super Bowl or whenever you lose it (hurts). Multiply that times a million and that's (what it's) like losing the Super Bowl."
Izzo's special teams can play a big role in helping the 37-year-old coach avoid that losing feeling again. Still, it's strange competing against former buddies such as Tom Brady, Matt Light and Deion Branch.
Before the NFC title game against San Francisco, Izzo ran into former Patriots special teams coach Brad Seely, who now has the same job with the 49ers.
"How weird is this, we are watching our teams warm up, the Patriots are on the big screen playing the Ravens and we're about to go at it with our guys," Izzo said. "That was the extent of the conversation. It was: 'Good luck' and you really don't wish him good luck because you want to win. It's just a conflict."
After being out of football for a year, Izzo said his biggest satisfaction is watching his guys make plays such as the one when rookie linebacker Jacquian Williams caused a fumble on a punt return to set up Lawrence Tynes' game-winning field goal in overtime against the 49ers.
"As a coach you are excited for them," Izzo said. "As a player you are excited for you."
Counting the preseason, this will be the third time the Giants have played coach Bill Belichick's Patriots with Izzo on New York's side of the field.
"It's not the first time looking across the sideline and seeing the hoodie over there, or seeing guys I played with," Izzo said. "Most of them I don't know. There has been a lot of change in that organization, and a lot of change in this organization over time."
As he speaks, the memories of former teammates such as Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest, Roman Phifer, Bryan Cox and Rosevelt Colvin return.
"We always had a lot of fun," Izzo said. "When you win as much as we did, it makes all the work very easy. It makes it fun and not everyone has that chance. I was lucky."
Izzo said his main concern is making sure his unit is prepared to perform up to expectations.
"If you are a rookie coach, to work with the group that we have, I can't think of a better situation," Izzo said. "I've been fortunate that I've come to a place that was as attractive from a coaching standpoint."
Running back D.J. Ware likes Izzo's style.
"It's like he was shot out a cannon," Ware said. "He has been here and done this several times. You've seen him lay his body on the line several times for his team going down on kickoffs. He is a great guy to get some experience from."