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PHOENIX - Zak DeOssie gets a twinkle in his eyes talking about his days as a New England Patriots ball boy.
How many teenagers get to throw passes in 7-on-7 drills, make snaps to punters in training camp, have dinners with players, and even be on the sideline when the Patriots won their first Super Bowl title six years ago?
"There was nothing like it, and I'm looking forward to experiencing it again," said the 23-year-old Ivy Leaguer and son of a former NFL player.
This time, it's going to be different.
When the Patriots (18-0) try to cap a perfect season with a win in the Super Bowl on Sunday, DeOssie is going to be on the opposite sideline and on the field, wearing a New York Giants uniform.
The rookie linebacker fromBrown is the Giants' snapper on punts and part of their special teams unit. His loyalties are clear, especially being the son of Steve DeOssie, a linebacker and snapper who won a Super Bowl with the Giants in 1991 when Scott Norwood of Buffalo was wide right on a field goal attempt on the final play.
"This is the team that drafted me, and these are my teammates. I don't think twice about it," DeOssie said. "My old man won a Super Bowl with this team."
Still, DeOssie has nothing but great memories from his time in New England, where his father finished his career.
The family stayed in Massachusetts, and DeOssie attended Phillips Academy in Andover, along with Amanda Belichick, the daughter of Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
"That's how I got the job," DeOssie said. "I was best friends with his daughter at Phillips Academy. Amanda is one of my dear friends."
Giants backup guard Grey Ruegamer remembers DeOssie from his three seasons with the Patriots, including the Super Bowl win.
"We loved messing around with Zak," Ruegamer said. "He was always involved in pranks. You know, what goes around comes around in training camp, and he got his fair share. He's by no means a saint."
DeOssie's mouth strains to contain a smile when asked about his favorite prank. It involved offensive lineman Mike Compton.
DeOssie and other unidentified co-conspirators went into Compton's room with two boxes of tape and basically hid the floor by crisscrossing tape about four inches above it.
"We also taped so when you opened the door all you could see was the screen of tape," DeOssie said. "He came in and ripped it down, only to see the rest of the room covered with tape. It was great."
There was a price to pay, though.
The players retaliated, and Ruegamer spread a dry ink all over DeOssie's room and used a fan to spray it in every direction.
"When water hit it, it turned to permanent ink and ruined all my clothes. Grey still owes me money for that," DeOssie said, adding a colorful word or two to describe Ruegamer.
He then laughed out loud.
After playing at Brown, DeOssie was drafted in the fourth round by the Giants, becoming the fourth father-son combination to play for New York. The others were Willie Young (1966-75) and Rodney Young (1995-98), Joe Green (1970-71) and Barrett Green (2004-05), and Don Hasselbeck (1985) and Tim Hasselbeck (2005-06).
DeOssie got a major role this season when veteran snapper Ryan Kuehl was lost with a calf injury in training camp. DeOssie inherited the job of snapping on punts, and fellow rookie Jay Alford snapped on extra points.
Steve DeOssie was amazed about what has happened to his son, who grew up a Patriots' fan.
"For him to be drafted out of the Ivy League is ridiculous," his dad said. "For him to be drafted by the team I won the Super Bowl with is even more ridiculous, and now to play in the Super Bowl.
"I think it's going to take him a month or so for all this to sink in," DeOssie said.
The New York Giants arrived for the Super Bowl yesterday, looking like the cast from Men in Black and battling the flu.
Rookie starting cornerback Aaron Ross threw up on the plane before it left Newark, the sixth player to be hit with the bug in the past four days.
Starting fullback Madison Hedgecock, defensive tackle Manny Wright, and safety Michael Johnson all missed practice on Friday after running temperatures.33.44826 -112.0758