If the Giants seem to have extra rations of courage and resolve this season, it may stem from their relationship with Lt. Col. Greg Gadson, a friend and former teammate of Giants wide receivers coach Mike Sullivan at the U.S. Military Academy.
Gadson, who lost both his legs due to an improvised explosive device in June while serving in Iraq, spoke to the Giants before a Week 3 victory against Washington — a game many Giants believe was the turning point of the season — while at Walter Reed Hospital.
He has been with them in body or spirit since, whether on the sideline or by telephone, as yet another leg operation kept him from the Dallas playoff game.
“Here’s a guy who is a real hero,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.
“This is a man who has led soldiers in combat, who has sacrificed a great deal for all of us. It was really an inspiration to all of us.”
The Giants gave Gadson a standing ovation after hearing him speak in Washington, and he is expected to arrive in the Valley today.
Immediately after scoring, Plaxico Burress gave Gadson the ball from his go-ahead touchdown reception against Washington in Week 3, and the two speak often.
Gadson had a surprise for the Giants before their first playoff game at Tampa Bay. Fitted with prosthetic devices, he stood to greet them at the team hotel.
Gadson braved the minus-23 wind chill to be with the Giants on the sideline at Green Bay for the NFC title game, and he received another ball, this one from Corey Webster after his overtime interception set up the Giants’ winning field goal.
IN FOR THE NIGHT
Giants coach Tom Coughlin established floating curfews for the Giants during their stay — 1 a.m. Wednesday, midnight Thursday and Friday and 11 p.m. on Super Bowl eve — and the players seem to have embraced them.
“We’re two hours behind, so most guys are tired anyway,” defensive end Michael Strahan said.
“And we’re so far out. We’ve 25, 30 minutes out” of downtown Phoenix. “And if you want to party, we are from New York City. If you can’t find a party in New York City, you should be ashamed of yourself.”
Linebacker Antonio Pierce: “You don’t have to monitor guys. Guys are tired from what we do all day. Some guys want to see a little of the city, which is fine. As long as they are up in the morning.”
Lawrence Tynes is the first native of Scotland to play in the NFL, although when he was 11 the family settled in the panhandle of Florida, the Redneck Riviera.
“I learned very quickly that my accent probably was not going to work,” said Tynes, adding that townsfolk called him and his brother “the Lucky Charms kids” after the cereal with the, well, Irish cartoon spokesman.
Tynes’ 47-yard overtime field to beat Green Bay has been compared back East with New York baseball Giant Bobby Thomson’s pennant-winning home run to beat Brooklyn in 1951.
Thomson also was Scottish, although Tynes learned that from reporters.
“That’s a great story. I’m going to check it out,” he said.