Updated 8/16/10 02:13 p.m.
(AP) Bragging rights and a happy housewarming are on the line.
And, with all the trash talking going on between the Jets and Giants, it’s clear both teams want to celebrate the first football game at the New Meadowlands Stadium with a victory Monday night.
“You want to win every game,” Giants tackle David Diehl said, “but playing the Jets adds a different dimension to it.”
Even if it is only preseason.
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“It will be a big-time rivalry game, us against the Giants,” Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez said. “That will be fun.”
Things were ramped up a bit during the week when a few players – the Jets’ Bart Scott and the Giants’ Terrell Thomas – took shots at each other. The chatter mainly revolved around whether the Jets now own the town, and whose stadium it really is.
“We’re opening up a stadium and there’s a lot going on right now,” Thomas said. “There’s a lot of hype around it making it a lot bigger than it is. It’s going to be a battle between our twos and threes.”
But what about some of the Giants saying the stadium is still primarily their home?
“If that’s how they feel, that’s how they feel,” Jets defensive tackle Kris Jenkins said. “It’s cool for them to feel that way, but we’re here to stay and that’s it.”
The teams traditionally meet in the third game of the preseason, but both wanted to be part of the unveiling of their new $1.6 billion, 82,500-seat stadium to football fans.
“We haven’t even been in our own locker room yet,” Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. “So I think just getting in there and checking that out and being able to run out and get to play a game in the new stadium is something I’m looking forward to.”
It will be a Jets home game, with the stadium’s exterior lit up in green. It’s also their first game since losing to the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC championship game.
The Giants actually host the first regular-season football game against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 12, when the metallic exterior will shine in blue, of course. The Jets will host their first home game the following night, again in front of a national Monday Night Football audience, against the Baltimore Ravens.
“We’re excited to be in the new stadium, but at the same time we understand we are the visitors,” Giants center Shaun O’Hara said. “So, yes it is the stadium we are going to share, but it’s going to be decked out in green and we are Big Blue.”
Taller and bigger than the old Giants Stadium, fans will be treated to cozy seating with outstanding viewing angles and four huge Jumbotron screens. Signage can be changed almost instantaneously from Jets green to Giants blue with the push of a button, and end zone team names are easily switched by rolling up two rug sections on the FieldTurf surface.
“We are all very excited,” Giants owner John Mara said. “The players are excited and we are hoping it will have the same effect on us that the new stadium did on the Yankees last year.”
The Yankees, of course, won a championship in the first year in their new ballpark. Rex Ryan and the Jets have talked about winning a Super Bowl the entire offseason, annoying plenty along the way with their bravado.
They have also grabbed headlines with flashy signings, such as LaDainian Tomlinson and Jason Taylor, trading for big-name players such as Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie, and appearing on HBO’s hit series, “Hard Knocks.” Meanwhile, the Giants have had a quiet offseason, in comparison.
“We’re completely OK with being overlooked right now,” Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. “I think the last time that we were overlooked, we came out with a ring.”
Ryan said Saturday he plans on having his starters, including Sanchez, play into the second quarter. Meanwhile, Giants coach Tom Coughlin said his starters will be on the field for 15 to 18 plays.
One player who won’t be on the field for the Jets is All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, who is sitting out in a contract dispute. The Giants will be without several of their key players due to injuries, including Pro Bowlers Chris Snee and Steve Smith.
So, despite all the hype and big talk, the bragging rights will likely come down to which team’s third- and fourth-string players are better.
“We’re not a team of trash talkers,” Thomas said. “Coach Coughlin said it best: ‘Talk is cheap, play the game.’ And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
(AP Football Writer Barry Wilner in New York, and AP Sports Writer Tom Canavan in Albany, N.Y., contributed to this report. © 2010 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.)