Even though it's being played in his home stadium, New York Giants fullback Henry Hynoski will not be attending the Super Bowl. Most emphatically not.

"I'm probably just going to be somewhere with my family and be a fan watching on TV," the former Southern Columbia all-stater said Thursday. "Having played in a Super Bowl, it would just be a letdown being at another one and not playing."

Of course, not playing was basically what Hynoski did all this past season, after he suffered a shoulder injury catching a pass in the third game of the season. The injury ended his season, landing him on injured reserve. Ironically, he had worked extremely hard in the offseason to get ready for the first game after he injured the medial collateral ligament and suffered a chip fracture in the lateral plateau of his left knee at a team workout in May.

Back from a well-deserved vacation, Hynoski said the major part of his rehabilitation for the shoulder injury coincided with the final game of the season

"The first six weeks I was in a sling, and then I was able to do some little exercises to settle the muscles down before I got into some more extensive stretching. Once the strength got back, I got more aggressive with the rehab," he said.

In the meantime, the Giants struggled. Their running game suffered, and the general take among fans in Hyno's home region is that

they really missed his blocking. But the Giants' problems were greater than that, he said.

"The NFL is such a talent-even league that when you slip a little, you really have to battle to get back," Hynoski said. "We had 10-plus players on injured reserve this season, and most of them were starters. That played a big role in it." The Giants started the season 0-6 but won seven of their last 10 games to finish 7-9.

"That's a tribute to the coaching and leadership we had," Hynoski said. "That was hard to come back from after a start like that but everybody played hard and that's a tribute to the guys. I would have loved to contribute."

Restricted free agent

The next month will be an interesting one for Hynoski. Completing the third and final season of his initial contract, he will be a restricted free agent at the end of February. That means other teams can make offers for him but the Giants have the right to match any offer that's made.

"We're in the phase in the NFL right now where changes are made by teams," he said. "There are coaching changes, and not just head coaches. We have to replace our offensive coordinator (Kevin Gilbride), who retired."

Add to that the fact that only a handful of teams use a pure fullback in their offensive schemes, and the next month could be a little stressful.

"There's not much I can do about it," Hynoski said. "I just have to let it play out. I love New York. It's where I started my career and I love it here. Whatever comes out of it, comes out of it."

Hynoski said he hasn't had much discussion with the Giants' coaching staff or front office people about his future role.

"That's what my agent's for and I trust him to do what's right for me," he said.

Having decided to watch the Super Bowl with family and friends, Hynoski said he doesn't have a favorite but thinks the league got the best two teams this time.

"A lot of times teams catch fire at the end of the year and those teams are always dangerous," he said. "But Seattle and Denver have been consistently good all year. It should be a real good game. Eli (Giants quarterback Eli Manning) is all about Peyton (his brother and Denver's QB), of course."