INDIANAPOLIS -- The man wasn't going to pretend. Everybody knows how LeSean McCoy feels about the New York Giants. So being here at the Super Bowl, where the Giants are actually playing and he was here simply to pick up the FedEx Ground Player of the Year award on Wednesday, the Philadelphia Eagles' star running back knew he was going to get asked for a prediction.
"I'm going to be honest," McCoy said, smiling a wan smile. "I really want the Patriots to win. But I feel like the Giants are probably going to win."
It's a tough time to be an Eagle, for sure. After the highest possible preseason expectations, Philadelphia fell almost all the way out of the race before rallying to win its final four games and finish 8-8, one game behind the division-champion Giants. The Eagles also beat the Giants at the Meadowlands in Week 11 behind backup quarterback Vince Young and gave away a fourth-quarter lead to them earlier in the year at home. The Giants stand as the last looming symbol of a season the Eagles still believe should have gone much better.
"It's hard, because you feel like you're better than they are," McCoy said. "But that's just words. They're actually doing it."
McCoy spoke about his Pro Bowl experience. Asked about Aaron Rodgers' criticism that NFC players didn't put forth enough effort, McCoy laughed and said, "Yeah, I'm one of those guys."
He spoke about Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie's angry postseason news conference: "I was kind of surprised, because every time I've seen Mr. Lurie he's had a smile for me. But I could see why he was upset."
He spoke about wide receiver DeSean Jackson's looming contract situation, saying he's been in touch with Jackson and believes things will work out between Jackson and the Eagles: "He's in high spirits right now, and I feel like they'll get something done. We need him and he wants to be here, so I feel like he'll be here."
He echoed what appears to be the prevailing sentiment around the Eagles, that the 2011 team would have been better if given more time to jell and that the right plan for 2012 is to keep the same group together the best they can: "I feel like we were jelling at the end. I feel like we started playing Eagle football. Early on, we were turning the ball over so much. It's hard to win in this league turning the ball over. I think this is the year to really do it. We want to do this thing the right way, and that means keeping our guys intact."
But he also admitted that the 2012 season will come with unprecedented pressure for the Eagles to succeed: "There's pressure for us to win some games and go to the Super Bowl, but sometimes pressure can be good for us. Philadelphia can be a tough place."
In the end, though, it kept coming back to that nagging, annoying fact of Eagle life that the Giants are about to play in the Super Bowl. Not much a disappointed rival running back can do but tip his cap.
"They got really hot," McCoy said of the Giants. "Just jelled at the right time. They're hot. The way they're playing, defensively and offensively, just great. Their offense reminds me of ours -- it seems like, at any given moment, they could go the distance. And [Eli] Manning's playing like his brother right now."