Players and analysts have talked about everything under the sun leading up to Sunday's Super Bowl matchup between the New York Giants and New England Patriots, but Giants offensive lineman David Diehl spent his time celebrating his loyalty to the University of Illinois Fighting Illini. The Chicago native and University of Illinois alumnus not only wears a Chief Illiniwek tattoo on his right upper arm, he also holds many fond memories of his time on campus:
"But I loved my five years I spent at the University of Illinois. The bonds, the people I met, the education I received...I can look back on those five years and say I wouldn't change anything about them. Being a guy from Chicago, staying in-state, that meant a lot to me. Winning a Big Ten title in 2001 and playing for coach [Ron] Turner...No. 1, playing for coach Turner gave me a huge boost going into the NFL and playing for the Giants my rookie year. For my five years at Illinois, I ran a pro offense, so when I got drafted by the Giants, I knew the entire offense. The only thing I had to do was switch terminology, which put me light years ahead of everybody else."
Diehl donated a weight room to the Illinois program two years ago, and still stays connected to the program. He is excited about new head coach Tim Beckman and the opportunity afforded to former Chicago Bears assistant coach Luke Butkus as an offensive line coach.
At the moment Diehl and the New York Giants are completely focused on capturing a Super Bowl title, but win or lose, Diehl will always celebrate his ties to the University of Illinois.
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