Coming off two less-than-stellar performances in losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, the New York Giants probably didn’t need too much extra motivation to get prepared for a prime-time match up against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night.
But if they did, a Make-A-Wish kid from Vermont gave them an extra spark to go to battle with against the Packers.
Adam Merchant, a 15-year old still recovering from a prolonged battle with non-Hodgkin’s Burkitt’s lymphoma, watched from the sidelines as the Giants practiced on Friday. Afterward, he suddenly found himself in the middle of a team huddle when coach Tom Coughlin asked him to say a few words to the team.
“Play like world champions,” Merchant said, via Bob Glauber of Newsday. “Just play like world champions.”
The Giants took the message to heart and played one of their most complete games of the season against Green Bay. Outside of one defensive breakdown, the Giants were nearly flawless in the first half in cruising out to a 31-10 lead. Eli Manning threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns, the Giants’ defense sacked Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers five times and New York ended a two-game skid with a 38-10 victory over the Packers.
Afterward, the Giants were praising the message of Merchant.
“It’s tough not to be inspired by something like that,” defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. “He’s a kid dealing with something we have no idea about. We can’t put ourselves into his shoes. For him to want to spend his time with us and for him to give that fiery speech was heartfelt. Everybody wanted to match the intensity of it.”
Merchant is in remission following many rounds of chemotherapy. He’s also available any time the Giants want to bring him in for a speech.
“Any time,” he said. “I’ll go to the Super Bowl if they need me.”