Cal alumnus and Patriots' rookie running back Shane Vereen is inactive for today's Super Bowl. But will he be able to raise a triumphant index finger with his teammates and get fitted for a Super Bowl ring?
LUCAS OIL STADIUM, INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA
NEW YORK GIANTS (12-7) vs. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (15-3)
3:29 pm PT, NBC
The National Football League's championship extravaganza is here. The stage is set for Super Bowl Extra Large Vee Eye in Indianapolis. The New England Patriots and the New York Football Giants will play for the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the second time in the last four years.
In Super Bowl Extra Large Eye Eye four years ago, the Giants pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history, defeating the heavily favored Patriots 17-14 in Glendale, AZ, to deny New England's bid to be the first NFL team to go undefeated since the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Will Serra High School grad Tom Brady and the Patriots get their revenge in this rematch? Or will Eli Manning and the Giants stay hot and cap off a remarkable run that seemed unlikely when the Giants were a mere 7-7 just six weeks ago?
Cal fans who don't have a rooting (or betting) interest in this game might be wondering: what Cal alumni are in this game for us to cheer for? Well, unlike last year's game when we cheered Aaron Rodgers and Desmond Bishop on to their Super Bowl championship, we don't have any former Golden Bears to watch in this year's Super Bowl. The Giants don't have any Bear alumni on their roster. As for the Patriots, neither of the Cal alumni on their roster will play today: Andre Carter (who had a fine season for the Pats) is out for the season with an injury and running back Shane Vereen is inactive (along with the Patriots' veteran running back Kevin Faulk). With Vereen and Faulk inactive, the Patriots' running back stable consists of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, and Stevan Ridley.
Though inactive for today's game, at least Vereen will get to be there with his teammates, which is more than you can say for poor Tiquan Underwood. The now former Patriots wide receiver was released by the team last night -- less than 24 hours before the Super Bowl kickoff.
As for the biggest story of the Super Bowl hypefest related to on-the-field matters, there was a development yesterday: Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (listed as questionable with a high ankle sprain) appeared for the team's Saturday photo shoot and walked without a limp.
For the Giants, we will not get to see the culmination of a cancer-to-Super Bowl story. Linebacker Mark Herzlich, the former Boston College star who overcame cancer to land on the Giants' roster as an undrafted rookie, is on today's list of the Giants' Super Bowl inactives. As expected, running back Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) and wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (shoulder), who were banged up in the NFC Championship game, are good to go for the G-Men.
This is your open thread for the game. Talk about all the hot game action here. And the commercials. And Madonna's halftime show, too. That should be good, amirite? Get into the groove.