Diehl has fond memories of Illinois

INDIANAPOLIS -- David Diehl is accustomed to rolling up his sleeves.

A veteran starter on the New York Giants' offensive line, Diehl embraces the hard-working, South Side mentality he inherited from his father, Jerry, a former milkman and beer vendor at old Comiskey Park. So it came as no surprise to witness the Chicago native roll up the sleeves of his game jersey Thursday morning at the Giants Super Bowl XLVI team hotel to show off two of his favorite tattoos: the Croatian shied and Chief Illiniwek.

"[The Chief] was my first tattoo I ever got," Diehl said.

Besides the ink on his upper right arm, Diehl pays homage to the retired school symbol whenever starting line-ups are announced during nationally televised game.

"David Diehl, University of Chief Illiniwek," he says.

"I've done that since my rookie year," Diehl said. "One time I think in the nine years I've played, the television station made me do from the University of Illinois because they made me record it. They forced me to do it. They told me you're not leaving the room until you record one of those. So I think it's been played one time.

"But I loved my five years I spent at the University of Illinois. The bonds, the people I met, the education I received...I can look back on those five years and say I wouldn't change anything about them. Being a guy from Chicago, staying in-state, that meant a lot to me. Winning a Big Tent title in 2001 and playing for coach [Ron] Turner...No. 1, playing for coach Turner gave me a huge boost going into the NFL and playing for the Giants my rookie year. For my five years at Illinois, I ran a pro offense, so when I got drafted by the Giants, I knew the entire offense. The only thing I had to do was switch terminology, which put me light years ahead of everybody else."

Diehl continues to be heavily involved in the Illinois football program. He donated a weight room to the program two years ago, and makes it a point to get to Champaign whenever possible.

"I'm especially excited about this upcoming season," Diehl said. "One of my fellow teammates, [former Bears assistant coach] Luke Butkus, took over as offensive line coach at Illinois. I'm happy he's back home and is going to do a great job for those guys."

The task now for Diehl turns to winning another Super Bowl ring. With Indianapolis being in such close proximity to Chicago, Diehl is able to be surrounded by his Chicago based family who made the short three-hour drive for Super Bowl week.

"It's great to do this Super Bowl so close to home. My family gets to experience it just as much as I do."