Unusual vintage for Giants
Lineman Glenn Parker knows wine and Super Bowls. He has played in - and lost - four.
By BRUCE LOWITT
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 19, 2001
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- You might call Glenn Parker robust, full bodied, earthy, rich, maybe effervescent, the way you'd describe a vintage wine rather than, say, a well-aged left guard for the New York Giants.
They're apropos, nevertheless, for this 11-year NFL veteran who seems remarkably soft-spoken for a man with a shaved scalp, a red goatee, tribal tattoos and the Harley-Davidson he rides to the stadium -- when he's not driving the 1970 Plymouth Fury he first drove at Golden West Junior College in Huntington Beach, Calif., and at Arizona.
|[Times photo: Michael Rondou]
Glenn Parker, right, with tackle Mike Rosenthal in the NFC title game, says he is one of many leaders.
Parker is a 6-foot-5, 315-pound offensive lineman who knows not only that Pinot Noir and German Riesling don't play for NFL Europe but which of the wines goes with what part of the meal.
It was in Buffalo that his palate was piqued by Canadian hockey players coming through town. Before long, Parker split his study time among his Bills playbook, Wine Spectator and the Wine Advocate, the latter written by wine critic Robert Parker Jr. (no relation).
"I'd love to meet the man. I love his palate," the Giant said of the writer, with whom he shares a passion. He brought his 2,000-bottle collection from Kansas City to his suburban New Jersey home.
"It is ever-changing. I buy wine to drink it," he said. "I don't buy it to save it."
Parker is close to the same force he was in seven seasons with Buffalo (where he became one of four NFL players to reach the Super Bowl in each of his first four seasons -- and lost them all) and three with Kansas City before signing as a free agent with the Giants.
He is part of a rebuilt right side of the offensive line. Tackles Scott Gragg and Roman Oben and center Brian Williams are gone. Right guard Mike Rosenthal backs up Parker. Center Dusty Zeigler and left tackle Lomas Brown flank Parker.
"The one thing you learn about Super Bowls," Parker said, "is that the emotional level is so high, it crumbles very fast. The trick is to keep everybody on that team at the high emotional level and not let them get down no matter what happens."
Asked what advice he would give to teammates who have not been to a Super Bowl, he said: "The guys who have been there and won the game (tight end Howard Cross, reserve quarterback Jason Garrett) take care of that. If anything, they can ask me what not to do. I try to tell them all the things we did wrong.
"The main thing is not to get caught up in the media frenzy, and when I say that, I mean they shouldn't get upset when one guy gets a lot of interviews and the other guy doesn't. They shouldn't get upset when one guy gets too much media and the other one doesn't. When you win, there's enough to go around."
And, Parker added, they should keep their minds on the game -- not the parties.
"They'll forget everything about (the week preceding the Super Bowl) except for that game," he said. "That's what will stick in their memory, and they'd better be prepared."
He remembers his four all too well. He thought the Bills' best chances were Buffalo's first (the Giants won 20-19) and fourth (Dallas won 30-13).
"The first one I thought we had a great shot going in," he said. "I thought we were the better team, and we got beat, plain and simple. The next two were blowouts (37-24 to Washington, 52-17 to Dallas)."
In the fourth, the Bills led 13-6 in the third quarter, but Thurman Thomas fumbled, safety James Washington returned it 46 yards for a touchdown, and the game swung to the Cowboys.
"We'd played them earlier in the year and had beaten them," Parker said of the 13-10 win at Dallas. "We felt like we had something going and turned it over."
With the Bills and Chiefs, Parker said, he was "no more a leader than anyone else on the team. Here, by virtue of age, by virtue of experience and by my coming in and us having a good year, those things add up, and I'm a bit more of a leader on this team.
"But I am by no means the leader. There are a lot of them on this team, and guys are stepping up all the time, and it can change in a game."
- Information from the New York Post was used in this report.
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