January 31, 2008

Zak DeOssie is Continuing His Family's Giants Legacy

Jan. 31, 2008

GLENDALE, Ariz. -

By ROBERT LEE
Providence Journal Sports Writer
When Zak DeOssie was selected in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL Draft out of Brown University, it wasn't just a new beginning with a new team, it was the continuation of a family legacy.

Zak's father Steve played for the New York Giants for 4 1/2 years (1989-1993), and he won a Super Bowl championship with the Giants in 1990, when the younger DeOssie was 7 years old, so being selected by the Giants meant a lot to Zak and his family.

"It was a very sentimental day when I got drafted by the Giants - for my father and I and my family, as well," said DeOssie, who is originally from North Andover, Mass. "It's a true honor to follow in his footsteps."

On Sunday, the younger DeOssie will be playing for a Super Bowl title against one of the teams he grew up watching and working for - the New England Patriots.

DeOssie was a ball boy for the Pats in 2001, when the team won its first Super Bowl under head coach Bill Belichick.

"It's a fairy tale come true," DeOssie said. "Here I am playing against the New England Patriots, my own hometown. I used to be a ball boy there, and here I am with the New York Giants."

DeOssie, who played linebacker and was the long snapper at Brown, is one of the best football players to ever come out of that school at his positions.

In 36 games over four seasons for the Bears (29 starts), he made 315 tackles (187 solo), had 36 tackles for losses and 10 sacks.

In his last two seasons at Brown, DeOssie was named a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, which goes to the top defensive player in Division I-AA.

The Giants liked what they saw at his combine workouts, and that's why they selected him.

"Zak has the size and he has the speed," Giants general manager Jerry Reese told reporters in New York at the draft. "It was the same theme as the other guys (picked on the first day of the draft). It was value and it was need for us. We helped ourselves at linebacker, plus he can long-snap ... [DeOssie] can help us as a long snapper and play on all the core special teams. We like that about him."

"He had an outstanding workout at the combine," Reese added. "He's the biggest linebacker we discussed. ... And he runs fast. His best time at the combine was 4.58. He has size, speed and great character. He's a team guy, just like the other three guys we picked. We think we got a good player here, a productive player."

DeOssie said punter Jeff Feagles took him under his wing and helped him adjust to NFL life.

"He takes good care of me," DeOssie said. "He makes sure I know what I'm doing and he gets me well prepared."

During training camp, however, DeOssie said there was an adjustment period.

"At first, throughout training camp, my head was spinning for a while," he said. "Then you settle down, and I found a place [to live] in Jersey. You get used to the schedule and start befriending everyone on the team. It becomes a great opportunity, and I'm having a blast."

DeOssie is a rookie, but he said he isn't overwhelmed by all of the hype surrounding the Super Bowl. He's taking it all in stride.

"I've been around football and the NFL for a long time and I know what to expect going to the other Super Bowls and what not," DeOssie said.

DeOssie is not surprised that the Giants made it to the Super Bowl even though they were underdogs in all three of their playoff games.

"Every season you go into it thinking Super Bowl, and here I am, so it's great," DeOssie said.

He said that the Giants' near-upset of the Patriots in the final week of the regular season gave New York the confidence that it could beat anyone.

"We showed that we could play at the top level with the best team in the league, and we're going to do the same this Sunday," DeOssie said.

Do the Giants have enough firepower to beat the Patriots?

"Yes, we certainly do," DeOssie added.

No matter what the outcome is on Sunday, DeOssie said he is living his dream, which is what matters most.

"This is every football player's dream come true - a chance to play in the [Super Bowl]," he added.