BRANDON JACOBS – GIANTS’ STAR RUNNING BACK
Brandon Jacobs, the best running back of the best rushing attack in the NFL, is sitting in his living room watching football highlights. “Look at that,” he says. “Look how far that guy is off the receiver in the end zone. You’ve got to be in that guy’s face.” It’s the only way Jacobs knows how to play football—head on. In the last year of his current contract with the Giants, Jacobs has been steamrolling the opposition, leaving many other players to scratch their heads and wonder, “How do I bring down a 270-pound running back that moves that fast?”
When Jacobs missed a game against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15, it was as if the team’s grind-it-out physical personality was missing. “I could have played against Dallas,” Jacobs said. “I should have played. They wanted to hold me out as a precaution. I’ve had the same injury since Week 3.” Without Jacobs in the lineup, the league’s leading rushing attack stalled and the struggling Cowboys handled the Giants easily, 20-8. When Week 16 arrived, and the Giants were playing the Carolina Panthers for the top seed in the NFC, Jacobs took the field with the same injury. He battered the Panthers for 87 yards and three touchdowns, including one in overtime, to beat the Panthers 34-28. Suddenly, New York writers were wondering if a new MVP candidate had emerged.
Going into free agency, Jacobs has proved how irreplaceable he is not only in his efficient rushing, but in his bruising, crowd-pleasing style as well. His performance in 2008 has set the stage for a lucrative second act to his career. “I hope I’m not a free agent,” Jacobs says referring to his clear preference to stay with the team that he helped lead to a championship. “But whatever happens, happens. I’m excited.” As he should be. On the day we are in his home to photograph Jacobs in his new clothes, a giant billboard of Jacobs is being raised in the middle of Times Square as part of Under Armour’s new campaign. There will be more people looking at Jacobs’ billboard at one time then there will be in his entire hometown of Napoleonville, Louisiana. Population: 686.
Nevertheless, the big man from the small town is ready to put the Giants on his broad shoulders. “The expectations are definitely much bigger this year after winning the Super Bowl and having the best record in the NFC,” Jacobs says. “But that’s the way it should be.” Jacobs faces the expectations the same way he carries the football-head on.