The Oakland Tribune

Will Newberry's comments bite him in the rear?
January 02, 2003
Center elaborates on his guarantee that 49ers will beat Giants in playoff opener

By Roger Phillips STAFF WRITER

SANTA CLARA -- Hopefully, the bulletin board at the New York Giants' headquarters is fastened to the wall with heavy-duty nails, because San Francisco 49ers center Jeremy Newberry's comments are going to start to weigh it down.

Let's just say he hasn't been shy about speaking his mind when it comes to the 49ers' playoff opener Sunday afternoon against the Giants at Candlestick Park.

After the 49ers lost in St. Louis on Monday night, Newberry said of the Giants, "We're going to beat their ass."

On Wednesday, when asked if he wanted to modify his comments, Newberry sarcastically responded, "What kind of question is that? No, I'm terrified of them. I think the Giants are the best team in the league and I'm terrified of playing them. I just hope we can keep the score close. That's a stupid question."

More seriously, he said, "I think we can win, definitely. What am I supposed to say, that I'm terrified of the Giants and we don't have a chance? Yeah, I think we're going to kick their ass -- I think that about every team we play. I think we'll win this week, too."

Asked if he simply was trying to use his bold words to get himself fired up, Newberry said, "That's what I believe. I don't go into any game, against any player, thinking we're going to lose the game, or hoping to keep it close. I think we're going to win the game. I think we're going to kick everybody's ass that we play."

In theory, a playoff game provides a team with all the motivation it possibly could need. Nonetheless, at a team meeting Wednesday, Giants coach Jim Fassel made certain his players were aware of the comments the 6-foot-5, 310-pound Newberry made Monday.

During a conference call with Bay Area writers Wednesday, Fassel was told, "Jeremy Newberry was quoted as saying that they're going to kick your ass ... the Giants' ass."

Fassel replied, "You scared me for a minute. I thought you said he was going to kick my ass. I ain't even going to get on the plane and come out there."

More seriously, he said, "Yeah, they saw it. ... I've got a lot of things to worry about other than that."

Asked jokingly to confirm that he indeed will travel to the Bay Area, Fassel said, "Yeah, with 53 bodyguards."

Of Newberry's remarks, Giants quarterback Kerry Collins said, "That's just talk. I really don't have any reaction to it other than it's something that was said and we'll leave it at that."

The 49ers don't appear overly concerned that Newberry might be providing inspiration to the wrong team.

"I'm going to support him 100 percent," linebacker Julian Peterson said. "He's our teammate. We've got his back, anytime."

Asked if he was concerned that his words would wind up on the Giants' bulletin board, Newberry said, "What, are they going to get fired up to play the game? They better be ready to play this game. I don't buy into that. ... If you need somebody to say something to get you hyped to play the game, then maybe you're in the wrong profession."

Coach Steve Mariucci echoed Newberry's opinion.

"If you don't get up for a playoff game, if you need something like that to get up, you're in it for the wrong reasons," Mariucci said. "That's just Newberry."

If the 49ers fulfill Newberry's prediction, it's safe to say that the next playoff opponent will need to clear out some space on its bulletin board, too.

"Every time I take the field, I don't think the guy I line up against is going to beat me and I don't think the team we line up against is going to beat me," Newberry said. "That's what I feel every week when we take the field.

"If you ask me next week after we beat the Giants, I'll tell you the same thing. I think we'll kick whoever else's ass that we play, too."

Tell us what you think on the new 49ers Clubhouse message board.