Two months before former St. John's Prep star Jonathan Goff was picked by the Giants in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft, the New York Giants spoiled the Patriots' bid for a perfect season with a last-minute victory in Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Ariz.
Goff won't be on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Sunday night when the two teams meet again in Super Bowl XLVI, but the injured Giants' middle linebacker will be in the team's locker room.
A Peabody resident, Goff had his season ended in a freak preseason accident when he tore his ACL in a non-contact drill. He underwent surgery and is still rehabilitating.
Naturally he's disappointed not to be playing in the game, but wouldn't miss being there and a part of it with his teammates for anything.
"I'm flying out later (this) week, and our other guys on IR (injured reserve) are planning to go, too," said Goff.
"The team is playing with a lot of momentum, doing it on both sides of the ball. They just need to continue playing the way they have been in beating teams on the road, which is not easy."
The Giants (now 12-7) have a five-game winning streak coming into the Super Bowl, and have mowed down some very tough playoff opponents in Atlanta, Green Bay and San Francisco (in overtime) to win the NFC championship. They also handed the Patriots (15-3) their last loss this season, a 24-20 setback on Nov. 6 at Gillette Stadium.
Many did not give the Giants much of a chance to get this far, especially since they only qualified for the playoffs after beating NFC East rival Dallas in the final game of the regular season to win the division.
"That's why you play the games," said Goff, who has been following his team closely from home while rehabbing his knee so he'll be ready to go when preseason camp opens in July.
Goff said he and his teammates had high hopes going into the season. When the NFL lockout ended last summer Goff was in top shape, but on Labor Day weekend he was hurt in a non-contact drill when a running back hit his knee. Although he was able to walk off the field the team wanted an MRI taken the next day, which revealed the tear.
"If you don't go into each season optimistic and positive about your team's chances, there's something wrong," said Goff. "I was expecting a good season, and it was disappointing not to be part of it."
Goff said he was fortunate there was no other damage to his knee and that the surgery was a complete success.
Because he grew up in New England people might assume Goff was a Patriots fan, but that's not the case.
"Believe it or not I was not a Patriot fan, and my friends will all tell you that I never rooted for them," said Goff with a chuckle. "I watched them play all the time, but instead of any one team I had some favorite players from a couple of different teams and followed them closely. I'm a fan of all sports in general, a fan of competition.
"I played quarterback at St. John's Prep for a while, and I really liked (former Eagles and Vikings QB) Randall Cunningham. (Ex-Denver running back) Terrell Davis, (Baltimore Ravens linebacker) Ray Lewis and (former Steelers and Panthers linebacker) Greg Lloyd were a few I really liked."
Goff is excited about being part of the whole extravaganza in Indianapolis this week, and would like nothing better than to come back home to Peabody with a Super Bowl ring.