St. Petersburg Times: Super Bowl XXXV
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Super Bowl XXXV Tampa, Florida 2001
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    NFC Championship notebook

    N.Y. looks to LT for motivation


    © St. Petersburg Times, published January 11, 2001

    [AP photo]
    Lawrence Taylor could return to Giants Stadium to talk with current Giants players.
    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- With a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, Giants coach Jim Fassel is trying to line up Lawrence Taylor for a motivational speech.

    The former Giants star will be asked to speak to the team Saturday, the day before it plays the Vikings for the conference championship.

    "I've tried to get a hold of him, and I'm planning to have that happen," Fassel said. "Knowing our players, there are a lot of guys that have the Giants uniform on, they have never seen Lawrence Taylor, but they would love to see him."

    Taylor revolutionized the linebacker position after joining the Giants in 1981. He led the team to Super Bowl championships in the 1986 and 1990 seasons before retiring in 1993. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999, but he has not been a frequent visitor to Giants Stadium lately.

    "It would be great to meet him and hear what he has to say, to get the juices flowing around here," receiver Joe Jurevicius said.

    "He's one of the greatest ever to play the game, and to have him come in and speak to you and try to motivate you, it would be real fun," receiver Ike Hilliard said.

    THOMAS OUT: Vikings safety Orlando Thomas will miss Sunday's game with a pulled left hamstring.

    Thomas had to leave Sunday's 34-16 win over New Orleans after being injured in the second quarter. The sixth-year pro missed seven games after breaking a bone in his left shoulder, but he returned for the regular-season finale, a loss to Indianapolis on Dec. 24.

    Thomas had 43 tackles, an interception and two fumble recoveries in nine starts this season.

    He will be replaced by rookie Tyrone Carter, who started seven games while Thomas was out.

    COIN TOSS: Taylor and former Giants running back Ottis Anderson will be honorary captains for the coin toss.

    Anderson was named MVP of New York's 20-19 win over Buffalo in Super Bowl XXV in Tampa in 1991, rushing for 102 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.

    They will be joined by former Giants coach Bill Parcells, and former Raiders coach Tom Flores and running back Marcus Allen.

    THE NEMESIS: Lomas Brown said he recognizes the challenge Minnesota presents because the Vikings have bested him before. The Vikings knocked him out of the playoffs when he was with Arizona in 1998.

    But Brown believes the Giants offense will play better than it did in New York's 20-10 win over the Eagles on Sunday. He attributed the team's stalled drives to Philadelphia knowing their plays.

    "The thing I was telling everybody was that team was so familiar with us it was going to be hard for us to score," Brown said. "It was going to be hard for any team to score because we were so familiar with each other. We knew it was going to be a tough challenge. Even when we were lining up in certain formations, they knew where we were going before we knew where we going. We knew it was going to be like that; we just had to hang in there."

    A GIANT CALL: With four games left in the season, Fassel said his team would make the playoffs regardless of the tight race in the NFC East. The prediction, Vikings coach Dennis Green said, may not have been that bold.

    "Jim is a very dedicated coach who knows his team," Green said. "That's what it comes down to.

    "They had a tight game against Washington. The Jacksonville game could have gone either way. They were much too strong and powerful for Arizona and much too strong and powerful for Dallas. He felt, knowing his team, that they could answer that bell, that they could beat Dallas, Washington, Arizona and Jacksonville, and he was correct."

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