Hyno, friends will watch this year's Super Bowl
The Super Bowl will obviously not be as much fun for Henry Hynoski this year as it was last year.
Not unless he really, really likes beer, chips and guacamole dip.
That's because on Sunday Hynoski, the Southern Columbia graduate who won a Super Bowl ring as a rookie for the New York Giants last February, will be watching the big game the same way as the rest of us - at a party with friends.
The Giants, despite the same regular season record in 2012 as they had in 2011, 9-7, did not make the playoffs this season and had no chance to become the hot horse in the race as they did last year. If last year seemed surreal to Hynoski, this year kind of does, too.
"I got to the NFL last year and everything happened so quickly; the lockout, then signing, camp, making the team, then I was a starter, and then we went to the Super Bowl and won. I felt this was the way it was going to be every year. This year we all kind of got a big reality check," Hynoski said this week from his home in New Jersey.
Hynoski said he could not think of a par-
ticular reason why the Giants, 6-2 at midseason and seemingly in control of another run to the big game, faltered in the second half, going 3-5.
"We prepared each week the same way and worked as hard and did everything the right way," he said. "But this is the NFL and everyone is good. It's all about the way the breaks fall and the ball bounces sometimes, and we didn't get those breaks this year. And don't forget, we were the defending champs. Every team gave its best against us."
Hynoski even said the statistics didn't seem to support the team.
"I think we had the least penalties in the NFL and were second in the NFL in turnover ratio. Those are two things every coach talks about and we had nothing to show for them."
So, Hynoski will spend Super Bowl Sunday at teammate Mark Herzlich's house.
"Mark and I are going to get together at his house with some teammates, some of his friends and some of my friends," Hynoski said. "We're going to watch the game and probably frown the whole time but we'll try to have some fun."
Hynoski said he thinks the game will be very competitive but is leaning toward the Baltimore Ravens.
"They're obviously two great teams, with great leaders," Hynoski said. "Joe Flacco is having as good a season as any quarterback in the NFL, and Colin Kaepernick gives the 49ers a whole new dimension.
"But I think the Ravens are going to rally around Ray Lewis. I think their defense is better. And I think whichever team establishes the run is going to win."
Hynoski said he and his teammates who are in the New York area in the offseason have been busy this week fielding calls from the New York media about their Super Bowl thoughts. He has become a popular target for the media because of his play on the field and his accessibility off it.
That image got bolstered in the final game of this season, a romp over the Philadelphia Eagles in which Hyno finally scored his first NFL touchdown, after which he did a dance, impersonating a snorting rhinoceros, honoring his nickname, Hyno the Rhino.
"I told all my teammates that whenever I did score, I wanted to make a statement," Hynoski said, chuckling. "I came up with the idea of the Rhino salute, with my hand being the horn out of my helmet. But I told Spencer Paysinger (backup linebacker from Oregon) and he said I had to come up with something a little more flamboyant. He said to act like you're charging like a rhino and shuffle my feet before I actually did it."
The dance instantly became a Big Apple hit. Some in the blogosphere said it eclipsed wide receiver Victor Cruz's end zone routine as the best one on the team.
"I was (surprised by the attention). The people in the stands were going nuts, and the way my teammates reacted was a real big thing," Hynoski said. "They were all coming up to me and saying that if anyone deserved to score a touchdown it was me after all the blocking I did. That felt really good."
Some people weren't as easily impressed. Henry's high school coach, Jim Roth, after seeing the dance, shrugged and said, "Well, he's had two years to work on it."
Hynoski can always count on Roth to keep him from getting too up or down on himself, even now, and he appreciates the mentoring.
Hynoski said he keeps tabs on the Tigers as much as he can although it's not easy sometimes because of his schedule. He gave $1,500 to the Tigers' program this season after he was awarded that sum for being named to the USA Football All-Fundamentals team, a team picked by the sport's national governing body to honor players who best display the type of fundamentally correct playing style that youth players should model themselves after. Hyno was named the team's fullback.
(Souders is a sports writer for The News-Item. His column appears weekly.)