With 32 clubs in the NFL, the odds are much better than a player will play against his hometown team than for it. Such is the case of two Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Cornerback Devin McCourty (at right) and receiver Tiquan Underwood grew up in Giants territory. McCourty is from from Nyack, N.Y., and Underwood is from New Brunswick, N.J. Both attended college in the swamps of Jersey at Rutgers.
Luckily for both players, neither expects their hometown roots to cause a conflict of interest Sunday.
"I mean, growing up in New Jersey, they've been right there," Underwood said of the Giants. "But it really doesn't matter to me who that opponent is Sunday."
Likewise, McCourty, who went to high school in Montvale, N.J., does not feel Giants ties. If anything, he feels Giants hate.
"I actually grew up as a Cowboy fan, so I was a big rival to everyone around me," he said. "So I don't really have to worry about going against my childhood team."
Right smack in the middle of Giants country, McCourty grew up a Troy Aikman-Emmitt Smith-Deion Sanders fan. He does not think playing a Cowboys' rival will make him play any harder Sunday, though.
"I think just the situation we're in makes it easy," McCourty said. "This opportunity to play in the Super Bowl -- how could you not be ready to go? I love to compete and be in this game. No matter what the background, I would have been ready to go no matter who we're playing."
OK, so these guys will not have a problem playing against their hometown team. But now they have an old coach to deal with in the NFL. Greg Schiano just left Rutgers to take the job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"He's gonna fit well there," Underwood said. "His coaching style fits the NFL and I'm not surprised that they hired him. It's a great hire for Tampa Bay."
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