John Mara: Giants in 'great spirits'

Updated: December 13, 2010, 9:56 AM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- The New York Giants continued their odyssey through the Midwest by flying to Detroit to play the Minnesota Vikings.

After the roof of the Mall of America Field collapsed, the Giants, Vikings and NFL agreed to play the game at Ford Field in Detroit on Monday night. Tickets to the game are free.

[+] EnlargeMetrodome Collapsed
AP Photo/Ann HeisenfeltThe inflatable roof of the Metrodome collapsed early Sunday morning after a snowstorm dumped as much as 20 inches on Minneapolis.

Of course, the weather forecast isn't terrific there either but owner John Mara -- speaking from the team charter flight as it was about to take off for Detroit on a conference call -- said the Giants' spirits are hardly lagging. It would be easy for the Giants' players to be frustrated and weary after having their flight to Minnesota diverted to Kansas City on Saturday. No one really knows what to expect now with both teams playing on a neutral field and Vikings quarterback Brett Favre still deciding whether or not to play.

The Giants landed in Detroit early Sunday afternoon.

"They have been in great spirits and really taken it in stride really well," Mara said of the Giants, who were stranded at Kansas City International airport for over two hours on Saturday before spending the night there. "Laughing and joking about it. They have taken it about as well as possibly expected, and that includes the head coach by the way."

Head coach Tom Coughlin makes his living preparing for everything and making sure that every aspect of the team is organized and under control. But the Giants have not been able to predict much at all ever since they moved their flight up by nearly four hours on Saturday morning in an attempt to beat a blizzard that blanketed Minnesota.

The Giants were forced to land in Kansas City and then ultimately spend the night there. Mara said the team originally wanted to fly to Minneapolis early Sunday morning, land there at 9 a.m. CT and still keep the noon kickoff against the Vikings.

But by late Saturday night, Mara said the team was told the roof at the dome was not in good shape. The team got official word early Sunday morning that the roof had collapsed.

"We got a message around 5 a.m. this morning that the [roof] collapsed and there was no way to get it repaired in time to play at the dome," Mara said. "The next option was at the University of Minnesota, but at some point this morning that was ruled out because of the amount of snow and the stadium had been shut down since the last time they played. There were a lot of issues there ... that was ultimately ruled out. We considered a number of different stadiums with Detroit being most logical."

"At this point, I would play this game in a parking lot," Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said in a text to ESPN.com's Matt Mosley.

Tuck likened the Giants' travel fiasco to a "bad Christmas movie."

Detroit made sense because of its proximity and the fact that FOX, which is broadcasting the Giants-Vikings game, already had a crew covering the Lions game. Mara said the idea of the Giants playing the game at home in the New Meadowlands Stadium back in New Jersey was broached with little success.

"That [idea] didn't get very far," Mara said.

"Earlier [Sunday] when we were kind of sitting around and figuring out where we were going to play this game ... we had a meeting and we made the rookies do a little singing and that kind of lightened the mood a little bit," Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. "All the players surrounded each other, kind of hanging out [to] just have a little fun and take advantage of this opportunity and team bonding. We have kept good spirits and good focus. This is an important game and it will come down to who treats it with a business mentality and who stays prepared."

Tuck said rookie Mitch Petrus was the best singer.

"He did a lot freestyling and stuff," Tuck said. "He did a lot of country, mostly freestyling. Mitch [was the best], no question."

The Giants considered asking the Kansas City Chiefs for permission to use their indoor practice facility but nixed the idea when they were told by the charter airline that they had a small weather window to fly to Detroit.

The Giants haven't done anything physically in over a day and a half. Mara said he wasn't sure if the Giants would ask to use the Lions facility.

Coughlin doesn't think the lack of activity will affect his team.

"Most of the guys will go to the stadium tomorrow and go on the field and do some exercises and shower and dress for the game," Coughlin said. "It is not the way you want it to be but we have to be focused on the fact [that] we have some issues here with weather and some problems that have resulted, but the time of waiting is very close to at its end."

When asked about the playing status of receivers Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith, both listed questionable but expected to play, Coughlin said, "We will see how that goes. Tomorrow the decision will be made on both of those guys."

Adding to the team's further travel woes is the fact that once the Giants get back to New Jersey, they will have very little time to prepare for their biggest game of the season against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

"Obviously we would have liked to have had a full week but what are you going to do," Mara said. "It could not be avoided. Right now this game is the most important game for us, we can't worry about the Eagles just yet. It just couldn't be avoided."

Few things have gone as planned on this trip so far for the Giants. The latest goal was to just make it to Detroit and finally play the Vikings.

"The airline told us they have some weather there but they believe we can arrive there without any problems," Mara said. "That is what we have been told and of course they told us that yesterday and it didn't quite work out that way."

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter. Information from ESPN.com's Matt Mosley was used in this report.

Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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