Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Our only post today:

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Test

Just because NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has the cold-weather Super Bowl for which he advocated doesn't necessarily mean it's a one-shot deal with him. As commencement speaker for UMass-Lowell, where he accepted an honorary degree on behalf of his late father, New York senator Charles E. Goodell, the commish in as much called Super Bowl XLVIII in the new Meadowlands stadium a test case. The success of playing the 2014 game, he said, will determine if any other cold-weather, outdoor proposals will be accepted in the future.

Even if it's a rousing success, cold-weather fans shouldn't expect that future to be the immediate one. Bids are voted on four years in advance, so 2015, 2016, and 2017 will already have been awarded to either domed stadiums or warm-weather arenas before New York-New Jersey takes its swings.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Oh, Antonio!

Seems released Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce is trying to make a name for himself in the media. He told NFL Network today that Tom Coughlin is on the hot seat because of last year's failure.

I'm not so sure about that. With a potential lockout coming up in 2011, I'm not sure how many coaches will really be on a hot seat this year. If they're under contract in 2011, as Coughlin will be (his final year), it makes sense for a team to keep a coach until all the labor issues are settled, just in case they have to come back in what would be the middle of the schedule. Easier to do that with an incumbent's system than a new one.

Also, given the fact that Coughlin took them to a Super Bowl title in 2007, I believe the Giants will pretty much let him coach out his contract, even if this year turns into a sub-.500 season.

But here's Pierce's rationale.

"He's on the hot seat," Pierce said. "I think everybody in the organization is on the hot seat. You are talking about a team three years removed from the Super Bowl. There are some fires lit underneath people's butts now in that locker room and in that organization. Everybody is on high alert. It is going to be a very interesting 2010 season."

He said the spat with defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan that caused Osi Umenyiora to walk out of a preseason meeting lingered for months and hurt the team, despite a 5-0 start.

"That, I think, trickled down to the rest of our season," Pierce said. "That's still on everybody's mind because everybody remembered that. Osi walking out of the team meeting. And he left the building. He came back and apologized and we moved on. We went 5-0 after that but it had an effect.

"All those things ... that is a trickle-down effect. Now you are affecting other guys on the team, because you are messing with the chemistry. If one guy is unhappy, you are talking about one of your main leaders, if he is unhappy, some other guys' feathers are getting wrinkled as well."

He said the team never really took to Sheridan, a fact that became evident early in the Giants' worst defensive season since 1967.

"You've been doing things a certain way for two years and it was just fine," Pierce said of playing for Spagnuolo. "It was right. And now you are being coached and that's not right, that's not correct. And that became the problem."

Still, this is an organization that rewards winning coaches with career longevity, so I don't think they'll be pulling the rug out from under Coughlin anytime soon. Guess AP and I will have to agree to disagree on this one.

How about you?


Kiwi In Crash

Mathias Kiwanuka was in a motorcyle crash with his 32-year-old brother Benedict in Indianapolis earlier this afternoon. The brother is said to be in critical condition after being hit by a car pulling out of a parking lot and flung 100 feet into the middle of the street. Mathias is OK but shaken after taking a spill.

Here's the full story from Ralph V. One sobering thought worth noting; It's not clear whether either brother was wearing a helmet. Big no-no if they weren't. Also, alcohol is not believed to be involved.

It's not immediately known whether Kiwi has any restrictive language in his contract that prohibits him from engaging in activities such as motorcycle riding or skydiving that could endanger his football career. Such language has become commonplace in modern contracts, but as Ben Roethlisberger proved a couple of years ago with his near-fatal motorcycle crash, it's not always adhered to.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bad News

Former Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey, now a Saint, was taken to the hospital after suffering seizure-like symptoms during a weight room session today.

One teammate told a New Orleans reporter that Shockey started shaking all over and seemed "out of it" for at least a minute.

"It was a little scary; it looked like maybe a mild seizure or a full body cramp or something," the teammate said. "There were a decent amount of guys in the weight room at the time. At first nobody really knew what was going on, but the trainers took control of the situation after a while.

""He was shaking and everything, and he was basically out of it for probably a minute or so, but it seemed longer. After he started coming back everything was pretty much all right. He seemed aware and everything seemed OK after a while. He got up and was walking around.''

There's a lot of divided sentiment about Shockey on this blog as to the assets and liabilities he presented during his Giants incarnation. But I think we all hope there's nothing seriously wrong with him.


OTA News

Busy today confirming that the younger people living under my roof are way smarter than I am, graduation season and all that. But here's Ralph V's report from today's OTA.

Seems the emminent Rocky Bernard played through a torn rotator cuff last season, perhaps giving rise to the possibility that this year will be a better one for the much-scorned defensive tackle.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thoughts From A Jersey Boy

Here's the Redskins Blitz blog my good friend, the great Larry Weisman, writes on the Redskins website. He's a funny guy, as you'll see from his thoughts on a New Jersey Super Bowl.

Give it a read.

And while you're at it, here's Mikey G's rundown from the press conference to "welcome home" the winning bid. Governors of both New York and New Jersey attended. Seems those guys have some time on their hands.


Let'em Eat Ice

Good column here by Mike Vaccaro of the Post, telling the rest of the country to basically live with it, now that the New York-New Jersey area is getting the Super Bowl. Lots of good points.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Interesting History

Leave it to John Mara to make the most incisive comment on the Super Bowl bid. In commenting after Giants VP Steve Tisch and Jets owner Woody Johnson, Mara remembered back to his father, Wellington, and the bad old days in the Polo Grounds when he used to walk into schools with a pocketful of tickets just to get people in the stands. "We've come a long way," Mara said.


It'll Be In The Meadowlands

The fourth ballot, a simple majority, came down on the side of the New York-New Jersey bid, so Super Bowl XLVIII will be held in the New Meadowlands Stadium.

Just be ready for a few traffic jams in Manhattan Super Bowl week. But, hey, you've got four years to prepare your alternate routes. For any out-of-town fans making their plans, I suggest Del Frisco's Steakhouse.


Third Ballot Fails

Neither New York nor Tampa Bay received the 75 percent necessary to be awarded the Super Bowl, so now it's down to a simple majority on the fourth ballot. A winner will be determined on this ballot.


Still No Winner

The second ballot produced no winner, so the voting moves to a third round without South Florida, which received the fewest number of votes. A 75 percent majority is still required at this point, but if it goes to a fourth ballot, a simple majority, or 17 votes, will award the site. The Giants are said to be a sure thing in that scenario.


No Winner Yet

So much for the New York Super Bowl bid being a lock. Commissioner Roger Goodell just announced that none of the three regions received the required 75 percent on the first ballot, so they are now voting a second ballot.


Just Watching This Super Bowl Announcement Coverage

Must say, I've never seen such a to-do about a simple vote. Just backs up the undeniable fact that, between coverage of the draft, the scouting combine, and this, the NFL has perfected the marketing of paper-pushing and stop-watch clicking to the point of art.



While You Wait

While we all wait for the NFL's announcement on the 2014 Super Bowl site, here's a little read from Mikey G. on Travis Beckum. He didn't get a whole lot of work last year, either in games or practice, but he hopes that will change this time around.


The Vote

The NFL will announce the winning bid for the 2014 Super Bowl this afternoon. Here's how the voting goes.

The owners will take a vote, and if one of the three contenders -- New York, Tampa Bay, and South Florida -- gets 75 percent of the ballots (24 out of 32), that city will win right to host the game. If no one gets 75 percent, another round of voting occurs among all three teams, again with the 75 percent rule.

If a winner still hasn't been determined, the city with the least number of votes is eliminated and a run-off between the two surviving cities takes place. Again, 75 percent is needed to win. If that fails, a fourth ballot is taken, and the team with a simple majority (17 out of 32) wins.

Given the stubbornness of some of the owners against a cold-weather game, it would not be outrageous to think that the voting will go to the fourth ballot before anything is decided. But I'm sticking with my original prediction. One way or another, the new Meadowlands Stadium will host the 2014 Super Bowl. It's high time the NFL started spreading this game around. If the Giants and Jets win this time around, I would certainly not be adverse to awarding the next bid to a place like Cleveland or New England.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Big Day Coming Up

The Giants will have their fourth OTA tomorrow. But the biggest news won't be coming out of the Timex Performance Center. It'll come from the owners meeting, where at some point in the afternoon the site announcement for the 2014 Super Bowl will be made.

That's the Giants vs. Tampa Bay vs. South Florida. I'm still betting on the new Meadowlands Stadium for the first outdoor, cold-weather game.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Winning The Offseason

The Jets always win the offseason, whether it's because they picked up Brett Favre, drafted a first-round quarterback, gained recognition through the ravings of their colorful coach, or lured HBO's Hard Knocks to their training camp. But once the real games start, they clearly become the second team in New York. Now, after their appearance in the AFC championship game last year, the question George Willis put to Giants running back Brandon Jacobs yesterday was, have the Jets overtaken the Giants as the area's No. 1 team?

Here's Jacobs' answer.

Now I ask you. Let's assume the Jets indeed win themselves a Super Bowl in the next season or two. Can they ever get enough support to be considered the premier franchise in this area?

All opinions welcome.


Friday, May 21, 2010

On Boss

Here's Mikey G's story on TE Kevin Boss' upcoming ankle surgery, which Boss hopes will alleviate the problems that lingered since the Week 4 game against Kansas City, when he was sandwiched between two Chiefs.


Coughlin Likes

Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant, both free agent newcomers to the secondary, represented the starting safety pairing at today's third OTA. That's no surprise considering Kenny Phillips is still rehabbing microfracture surgery and Michael Johnson is, shall we say, on very thin ice. A quadriceps strain caused him to miss the session.

So it was encouraging to hear Tom Coughlin say he was impressed with Rolle and Grant, both of whom have plenty of experience and enthusiasm for their work.

"As I have watched them work individually, they have done a good job," Coughlin said. "There is definitely some pride back there – Antrel Rolle is kind of a take charge personality. So I like that aspect of it."

Grant proved the louder component, vocally, at least. And that didn't impress Coughlin as much as their combined work did.

"Deon Grant has been good," Coughlin said. "I don’t judge – the ability factor is not going to be on how loud they are."

Coughlin also noted that Ahmad Bradshaw, coming off surgery on both feet, worked but was very limited.


Medical Update

Today is the Giants' third OTA, and there is some bad news and good news on the medical front.

The bad news is that the offensive line will lose some depth heading into the season as Kevin Boothe recovers from surgery on a torn pectoral muscle he suffered while working out earlier this week. He's scheduled for surgery Tuesday, and will be out at least four months.

It could well be longer, however. You may recall that washout defensive lineman William Joseph suffered a torn pec also while in the weight room, and it cost him the better part of a year.

Also, tight end Kevin Boss is scheduled for arthroscopic surgery Monday to clean up his right ankle. He's expected to miss four to six weeks, which puts him back in action in time for training camp.

The good news is that running back Brandon Jacobs (knee surgery), defensive end Justin Tuck (shoulder), fullback Madison Hedgecock (shoulder), center Shaun O’Hara (elbow), guard Rich Seubert (shoulder), wide receiver Mario Manningham (shoulder) and linebacker Gerris Wilkinson (wrist) are all participating in the OTAs, as is last year's fourth-round running back Andre Brown following Achilles tendon surgery last summer. Jay Alford, recovering from knee ligaments torn in the preseason, is also back working full-out.

Others who underwent surgery continue to rehab, including safety Kenny Phillips (knee), running back Ahmad Bradshaw (both feet and one ankle), wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (wrist/toe) and defensive tackle Rocky Bernard (shoulder). Bradshaw and Nicks are both expected to return to the practice field within the next two weeks.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Oh, Osi!

Well, he's opened his mouth again, so to speak. Only this time, Osi Umenyiora isn't griping about his playing status. Instead, he's offering his opinion on whether Cleveland Cavaliers great LeBron James should come to New York as an immediate upgrade to the Knicks.

Here's the whole entry. But just to summarize, Umenyiora believes LeBron should stay put, not just because the Cavs need him, but because he'd be risking a major poop-storm if he ever came up with an effort like his no-show playoff game against the Celtics this year. To Umenyiora, it's just not worth the trouble.

The defensive end must have a lot of time on his hands if he feels it necessary to weigh in on another athlete's future in another sport. Ah, the wonders of blogs. Makes you think your opinion is more important than it really is.


Press Box Gone

This video probably means more to me than to you, but it's a fun watch if you like seeing things get pulled down. That's the Giants Stadium press box coming down, a home to so many of us reporters starting with the Jim Fassel era, when they turned the old, lower box into luxury suites.

It was the object of plenty of jokes because of its distance from the field. It took six seconds for a beam of light to travel from the field to the press box. We were the only team whose reporters could poop on the pigeons' head.

I'll miss the helicopter flyovers. They came past just above our eye level, and we could look right into the belly of the machine.

It had its faults. But it was home to so many of us, so permit me this one sentimental moment.

By the way, that guy running in the middle of the shot as the box is crashing down? That's me. Forgot my pen up there. Dang!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tom Coughlin Q&A

Florida Times-Union writer Gene Frenette caught up with Tom Coughlin when the coach ventured to Jacksonville for his annual celebrity auction and golf tournament that raises money for The Jay Fund, his charity that helps families of children with cancer. It's a good cause, so if you can, write a check for him.

In the meantime, here's a question-and-answer session Frenette had with the coach.


Question For Today

Just because I don't anticipate anything truly important happening today, how about this?

Shockey or Bavaro?



Tuesday, May 18, 2010

OTAs Begin

Today is the first OTA (Organized Team Activity) for the Giants, and Osi Umenyiora said on his web page that he's ready to get going. What's more, he said he couldn't quite understand what all the fuss has been about.

"I've been in New York the last two weeks working with the team," the defensive end wrote last night. "I'm not sure what all the fuss has been about with me. There has been a lot of talk about me, about me getting traded. I didn't get traded, I'm with the team and have been with the team. I think people have been looking for me to do something to cause dissension, but that's not happening.

"I'm focused on working and want to do all I can to help this team win games. Honestly, I think everyone on the team has been here working, I don't think anyone has been missing. The atmosphere has been great and I think it's needed. I'm looking forward to starting OTAs. We've all been off football for awhile so practice together as a team will be great."

In case Osi needs a refresher course, whatever fuss there has been was caused by, well, Osi. You don't go on a radio tour at the Super Bowl, spouting about playing status guarantees and trade wishes, and not expect some sort of backlash. So, as a result, Umenyiora comes into these OTAs with a definite need to show his head and heart are still with the team.

He got himself off to a good start by not ditching the offseason conditioning program.

"For me, now that I'm getting a little older, I try to get into football earlier," Umenyiora said. "I try to take a week or two off when the season ends and then start working out again. I don't like to let my body get out of shape. I've done it before and it's a whole lot easier to just stay in shape."

Now, as it hits its second stage -- onfield instruction in defensive coordinator Perry Fewell's new system -- he needs to kick it up a notch. That would help not only himself, but set the example for kids like drafted linemen Jason Pierre-Paul and Linval Joseph.

He seemed ready.

No media access today, but I'm sure we'll hear about how it all went.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Heart Disease Felled Hand

You may have read that Norman Hand, the defensive tackle who played 11 games for the Giants in 2004, died Friday. According to the Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C., an autopsy over the weekend revealed the former Charger and Saint died of heart disease.

The Giants were the 37-year-old Hand's final stop in a 10-year career. He was listed at 310 pounds, though he was known to weigh much more than that.

In other news, the team's first OTA is scheduled for tomorrow. All healthy members are expected to be in attendance, even though most OTAs are of a voluntary nature. The only mandatory sessions are the ones that compose the full-team minicamp on June 15-17.


Just A Warning

I'll be checking around periodically today for any major stuff, but I'll be away from the computer most of the time. Got some biz to attend to.

In the meantime, use this space as an open forum. Anything Giants-related that's on your mind is fair game. And remember, play nice.

See ya later.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Little Cushing Outrage

For anyone who was paying attention to the Associated Press' revote on the NFL's Rookie Defensive Player of the Year award after Houston's Brian Cushing received a four-game suspension for using an illegal substance last year, here's a column of outrage from my guy Ralph at the Daily News.

I decided not to follow the story because I could care less about most awards, whether they're voted on by the press or anyone else. But if I did care, I'd have done one of two things. Either let the first vote stand, and simply chalk it up to a cheater hoodwinking the 39 of 50 balloters who voted for him, or do a re-vote with Cushing ineligible. Either way, writers would have had expansive openings to rip the daylights out of Cushing and make some valid, strong points about the evils of performance enhancing drugs.

But the AP did it the worst way possible and wound up embarrassing itself by leaving Cushing eligible in the re-vote and, ultimately, a repeat winner.

Like I said, I don't consider this any earth-shattering thing. It's an honorary award with no money attached. The 18 guys who voted for Cushing, one actually changing his vote from second-place finisher Jarius Byrd, can defend their decisions on their own. I didn't have a vote, and I've always been a reluctant participant in the few votes I've been asked to cast over my career. I'm firmly against PEDs, but I also know that the locker room chemists are always one step ahead of the testing process, so I'm under no illusions that football is a totally clean sport no matter what the league claims.

With that, I'll leave the rest of the commenting to you guys.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Chris Canty

Here's a little reading material on Chris Canty for a slow, beautiful Saturday.


Friday, May 14, 2010

O'Hara In Iraq

Shaun O'Hara took time out of his offseason to visit a couple of army camps in Kuwait and Iraq with Bears DB Charles Tillman as part of a USO tour. Here's Paul Schwartz' account from today's Post.

Always nice to see the players shaking some hands with the boys over there. Just shows you that not every NFL player spends his off-field life standing before judges.


Everybody's In

Barry Cofield finally signed his $1.759 million tender offer, well before the June 15 deadline. That means all of the Giants' RFA's who did not have their tenders pulled back like C.C. Brown are signed and accounted for. The squad's roster sits at 80 heading into the mandatory June 15-17 full-squad minicamp, the maximum number the Giants can take to training camp.

The faces are still going to change, however. Unsigned draft picks are not counted against the roster, so as they put their names on the dotted line, somebody must go. But it's good to see, anyway, that there won't be any holdout nonsense with Cofield, who never made waves despite his frustration with the current business situation that cost him a shot at unrestricted free agency. He had told us just before the draft that he had no intentions of creating a disruption, and he appears to be holding to that.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Another Viewpoint

Here's Steve Politi's column from the Star-Ledger on the Giants and Jets Super Bowl bid. Makes a lot of good points about the potential cold and how it's eminently doable.

Interesting weather chart at the end, too. Although a New York/New Jersey Super Bowl would not have met the NFL's 50-degree requirement, the temperatures on the last Super Bowl Sundays around here haven't been brutish, and there has been virtually no snow. A couple of dustings lately, but nothing approaching the blizzard so many fear.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Oh, By The Way...

Don't worry about getting too cold if the Super Bowl committee approves the Giants' and Jets' bid for the 2014 game. Hand-warmers and heated seat cushions, as well as additional heating units in the concourses, are accounted for in the bid book.

I'd show up just for the hot seat cushion.


The Bid For The Super Bowl

The Times had a nice rundown of the Giants and Jets' bid for the 2014 Super Bowl that was just unveiled in a signing ceremony at the New Meadowlands Stadium.

It's apparently gone through every contingency, from traffic to snowstorms, in an effort to convince the other owners that a cold-weather Super Bowl would not, contrary to common opinion, summon the apocalypse. In fact, Jets owner Woody Johnson even said today that he Super Bowl would be "lucky" if it snowed.

I'm not sure I'd go quite that far. But I am, as you know, in favor of a cold-weather Super Bowl. It would pump a lot of money into the New York-New Jersey coffers. And some of the greatest games in NFL history have been played in bad weather. As for braving the elements, that's for the corporate-bigwig Super Bowl seat-buyers to worry about. The few real fans from the area who get seats already know how to deal.

The others? They'll learn. Or they'll freeze.

Who really cares?

You guys with me?


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Clark's Gone, Too

Strongside linebacker Danny Clark, unsigned and unwanted by the Giants, has found a home with the Houston Texans. Clark came to an unrestricted free agent agreement this afternoon, according to the Houston Chronicle. As with C.C. Brown, the 33-year-old Clark will get to face his old teammates this year.

Also, WR Derek Hagan signed his one-year, $1.176 million tender offer, leaving only DT Barry Cofield as an unsigned restricted free agent. He's not making any waves yet, however, and he's expected to sign his $1.759 million tender before the June 15 deadline.


James Still Alive

The cornerback formerly known as Will Peterson is still alive and kicking, and now will be playing in San Francisco.

Now known as William James, he just signed a one-year deal a season after he toiled for the Detroit Lions for a single season. Before that, he spent a year with the Jaguars and two years with the Eagles following his five-year Giants career. At one point, he and defensive backfield partner Will Allen were thought to be the longstanding secondary of the future, but that went kaput when the gambling but hard-hitting Peterson/James started making too many mistakes and Allen forgot how to hang onto potential interceptions.

Some personal issues also got in the way of James' play. But I always liked the guy, so it's good to see he's gotten himself another job.


The Cofield Deal

You know all that talk about Barry Cofield's near-trade to the Saints during the draft? Well, my guy Mikey G. has the lowdown on his website, and it's worth a read.

Through all the machinations of this, it's important to note that Cofield, while frustrated with his second-round restricted free agent tender, is not playing the malcontent. He continues to work hard, recognizes the business aspect of it, and fully intends to come all the way back from 2008 microfracture surgery to earn himself a sizeable unrestricted free agent deal after next season. The Giants have no intentions of trading him now, and were not actively shopping him before the draft.


Signing The Bid

How psyched about the opportunity to bid on the 2014 Super Bowl are the Giants?

So psyched that they and the Jets are actually having a ceremony where their owners and players will sign the official bid book before it gets shipped off to the NFL. The rest of the owners are expected to consider the teams' bid, along with those from Tampa and South Florida, at the league meeting May 25.

Eli Manning and Ottis Anderson, Giants president and CEO John Mara, and vice president Steve Tisch are expected to represent the Giants, while Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, Curtis Martin, bid committee co-chairman and owner Woody Johnson, and Mark Lamping, the president and CEO of the New Meadowlands Stadium Company, will also sign.

Have to feel this thing is going to go through, or commissioner Roger Goodell would not have thrown his full-fledged support behind it last year.


Monday, May 10, 2010

C.C. To Lions

Former Giants safety C.C. Brown has agreed to terms with the Lions.

The Giants host the Lions in Week 6.

Insert own joke here.



The Giants reportedly met with former Jaguars defensive tackle John Henderson, but did not offer him a contract. With news today that NFC East rival Philadelphia has no interest in him, do you guys think this might be the opportune time to grab the veteran?

Remember, the Giants have a pretty well-stocked depth chart up front, with incumbents Barry Cofield, Chris Canty, Jay Alford and Rocky Bernard to go along with second-round pick Linval Joseph and undrafted free agent Nate Collins of Virginia.

Of course, if Henderson did start mentioning the right numbers, the Giants could easily slip him in by cutting an underachiever like Bernard. Would Henderson be worth it?


Bye-Bye, Lena

Another great of the Greatest Generation has left us. Lena Horne, singer and racial groundbreaker, died last night. They're just about all gone now; Duke, Ella, Cab, Count, Lionel, Diz. Great, great age of music.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

One School Of Thought

There's a school of thought going around among some columnists and observers that Lawrence Taylor, because of the nature of his current legal problems, should be thrown out of the Hall of Fame.

Of course, you hear this anytime some enshrinee gets in serious trouble. They wanted O.J. Simpson bounced out. In baseball, there were cries to get Ferguson Jenkins out of Cooperstown because of his drug-related trespasses. It's nothing new.

So you tell me, should Taylor be thrown out of Canton?

I'll give you my take on it. The Professional Football Hall of Fame, under its own by-laws, dictates that a player should be voted in strictly and solely by his on-field accomplishments. Their rules leave very little leeway for judging the person. So, given that, I believe Taylor, like Simpson, absolutely should remain enshrined. He is the greatest linebacker to have played the game, not only because of his physical talents, but because he changed the way linebackers are used. Plain and simple, he must stay. He deserved to be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer when he went in in 1999, and he must stay there now.

By now, you all know I'm not taking the easier stance, given my personal feelings for the man.

What say you?


Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Guard

One of the players who showed well in rookie minicamp was fifth-round guard Mitch Petrus of Arkansas. Tom Coughlin went out of his way to compliment him on his mobility and tenacity.

My question is, how comfortable would you feel putting him into competition with incumbent Rich Seubert for a starting spot. I say Seubert simply because I'm assuming Chris Snee isn't going anywhere. Also, for today's purpose only, let's assume David Diehl either beats out Will Beatty in their competition at left tackle, or that Beatty moves into the starting lineup at right tackle in place of Kareem McKenzie. Either way, we're considering Seubert-Petrus today.

Floor's open.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Sampling LT

Here's a sampling of columns from the New York dailies on Lawrence Taylor's recent troubles with the law.

From The Daily News.

From the New York Post.

From the Bergen Record.

From the Newark Star-Ledger.



QB Change

The Giants made a small quarterback change, signing Wake Forest tryout guy Riley Skinner and cutting Holy Cross' Dominic Randolph after Skinner showed more impressively in the rookie minicamp.

Randolph had come to the camp already signed.

He makes the second tryout to get to the June minicamp, as Kentucky LB Micah Johnson's signing will become official today.

In one other bit of news, LBs Bryan Kehl and Phillip Dillard have switched numbers. Kehl will wear No. 55, and Dillard will wear No. 53.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lawrence And Me

Spurred by Lawrence Taylor's latest brush with infamy, a couple of you have already mentioned the close encounter of the worst kind I had with the Hall-of-Fame linebacker a few years back.

I wasn't going to bring it up for various reasons. But I think we need a little transparency here as to why my feelings about Taylor are what they are, especially to those too young to remember the incident. So, without further ado, I bring you my version of the worst 30 seconds of my career.

It happened on Sept. 20, 1995 (not 1989, as some outlets have reported), two years after Taylor had retired from the NFL. Dan Reeves had brought him in that Wednesday to offer some extra motivation to his 0-3 troops as they prepared to face the Saints that Sunday. Reeves had run his team through a three-hour outdoor practice that afternoon. It was closing in around 5 p.m. My paper at the time had a 6 p.m. deadline for all morning and afternoon stories. Knowing Taylor's talk was going to be the story, I had yet to write Word One.

I wasn't happy, not just because of the deadline, but because I'd never really gotten along with Taylor in the five seasons I'd covered him, 1989-93. Great player, a privilege to watch. But I never like him as a person, and I never did get past that personal distaste. My bad.

Anyway, it seemed like a million microphones, cameras, and notebooks were clustered on that practice field, all waiting to hear what Taylor had said. As practice ended, Taylor made his way to the exit where, predictably, the media converged on him.

And so my tale begins.

As we tried to surround him, someone asked what Taylor had told the team.

"I got nothing to say to you guys," Taylor said, steaming off in the other direction toward the far exit.

I happened to be standing along the outer fringe. Still left without a word for my story, I went after him. All 5-foot-5, 170 pounds of me.


"C'mon, Lawrence!" I shouted about 30 yards in back of him. "You know you're gonna talk eventually! Get it over with! You're not a player anymore! You don't have to play these games anymore!"

Taylor replied, "That's right! I'm not a player! I don't have to talk to you guys any more!"

I said, "Same bull...t, huh LT?" At which he pointed a finger at me and said, "Watch it, you!"

At this point, we were about 20 yards apart, and I'd had it. My plan was to turn around, exit the other way, and go back to the press room to vent for another half-hour. But something inside me told me I had to get that damned last word in. So as I turned, I waved my hand at him.

"F-u-u-u... you!" I said.

That was my first mistake.

Now, you have to believe me when I tell you I said this in the spirit of constructive criticism. He apparently didn't see it that way because the next thing I know, he's in a linebacker's stance 20 yards away, screaming like a madman.

"You want to F... with me? You want to F... with me?" he said.

Instead of running for the hills as any right-thinking small person might do, I turned and stood there.

That was my second mistake.

In a flash, or seemingly so, we were face to face. Muhammad had come to the molehill. He's still screaming, and I've got my finger pointing right in his face, saying "You're wrong, you're wrong."

And then he grabbed me around the throat, pushed me up and back, and said, "Get away from me, you dilly-silly bitch!" I swear, I always understood the gist of the last two words. But dilly? Geez, Lawrence.

Anyway, a smarter guy would have walked away right there. But smart had gone out the window a long time ago. In fact, I had almost slugged him. I was watching this little spit globule on his lower lip, and I said to myself, "if that comes off and lands on me, I'm swinging." Thankfully, it stayed where it was.

But I digress. Instead of retreating, I stepped back to my former position. Only heaven knows what might have happened then had TV reporter Russ Salzberg, then-Times reporter Mike Freeman, and Bergen Record reporter Vinny DiTrani not stepped in. Salzberg and Freeman pulled me away (good thing for LT) and Vinny stood in front of the still-enraged Taylor. As Vinny urged him to calm down, I M-Fed Taylor all the way back. I heard him whining, "But that's not necessary, Vinny!"

Taylor eventually took Vinny's advice and made for the exit, offering me one last bit of wisdom.

"That's why nobody reads your paper," he said.

"F-you, A-hole, you M-Fing, C-cks-k-r," I opined.

Salzberg got in my face and said, "It's over. It's over." And I immediately realized that I'd screwed up royally. I had become the story, a huge no-no in the days before blogs and the self-involvement of the media. ESPN and all the local stations had cameras there. The story went national. Coast to coast.

The New York Post ran a tale of the tape with me and LT on the back page. My best friend who works in television framed the moment the cameras caught LT's hand around my throat and gave it to me for Christmas. It still sits in my office.

My paper remained true to form. I almost got fired for it. I wrote a column of apology. The Newsmaker's section of Newsweek icked up the last paragraph and positioned the blurb a column over from a picture of Claudia Schiffer, her long blonde hair covering her bare upper body. I like to say that's as close as I've ever been to a naked supermodel.

Taylor apologized. An hour after the incident, I was called to the locker room where, on camera, Taylor presented me with his 1993 All-Madden jacket. "You deserve this because you're the only guy I know who's crazier than me," Taylor said. I shook his hand, apologized for my own actions, and returned the jacket to the Giants. Good thing I did. My managing editor said if I hadn't, he'd have fired me on the spot. He now resides in what we call the "Dead Editor's Pool" now, counting paper clips or something in the chain's national headquarters. Real genius, that guy.

The next day, in USA Today, Madden made me the first writer ever on the All-Madden team. "We have a new criteria," Madden said. "You have to be crazier than LT."

For a few moments, I was the craziest Italian guy you'd ever want to encounter.

You can look it up.



Lawrence Taylor was arraigned in a Rockland County courthouse on charges of third-degree rape and third-degree patronizing of a prostitute. He, however, is not being charged with the beating of the 16-year-old runaway he allegedly had sex with in a Ramapo hotel.

Taylor's bond was set at $75,000. The rape charge, a felony, carries a maximum four-year prison sentence. The second charge, a misdemeanor, carries a one-year sentence.

Here's the full story from the ESPN website.


LT's Track Record

Here's the Daily News' laundry list of Lawrence Taylor's trouble with the law. His lawyer said he'll plead not guilty to this latest issue.


Awarding Supe XLVIII

The awarding of Super Bowl XLVIII will come at the owners meeting on May 25, according to their just-released agenda. Of course, by now we all know the new Meadowlands Stadium is in the running. And if Woody Johnson can keep his mouth shut and his temper in check for the next couple of weeks, the new joint might just have a shot.

It's not a sure thing, however. South Florida and Tampa Bay are also in the mix. And a lot of those owners are stuck on the idea that the Super Bowl should be played under ideal conditions.

I say "Hooey!" to that. Nothing wrong with a big game played in the elements. As for all the corporate non-fans who buy those Super Bowl tickets, let'em freeze.



Lawrence Taylor is in trouble again, this time for allegedly raping a 15-year-old girl in a Rockland County hotel. Here's the story from my old paper.

This is not exactly earthshattering news to me, and it shouldn't be to you. While nothing has been proven yet, LT has had a track record of drugs and violence. I was a big admirer of his work. Taylor as a person? Not so much.

Bad guy. And that holds whether he's guilty of this or not.


Joseph Story

Here's a story from the Virgin Island Daily News on second-round DT Linval Joseph that might interest you.



I'm not completely sold on the new Meadowlands Stadium. Might as well tear it down and go back to the other one.



80 Men Strong

The Giants' roster is at the maximum 80-man limit, most recently attained by the signing of undrafted linebacker Micah Johnson of Kentucky the final day of rookie minicamp.

But here's something you may not know. Those seven draft picks don't count against the roster until they sign their contracts, which won't happen for a few weeks. So, here's a proposition.

If you had to leave the undrafted free agents alone -- we believe in opportunity on this blog -- what veterans would you cut, in order, as each draft pick signs. Remember now, you can only cut vets, so seven of those guys who were either on last year's roster or came in the first part of free agency have to go. Prioritize your list. First draft pick signed, first to go. Then explain.

Have fun.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Jerry Wasn't Lying

Sometimes you take what a general manager tells you with a sack full of salt, especially around draft time. But when Jerry Reese told reporters after his first-round pick that Osi Umenyiora was not going to be traded under any circumstances, he apparently meant it.

And we know that because NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora reported last night that several teams tried to contact the Giants about trading the disgruntled pass rusher and were rebuffed. He said the teams were told that Umenyiora was "off limits."

It doesn't take much of an imagination to understand that. Like him or not, Umenyiora is an affordable, experienced pass rusher who can offer helpful hints to people like first-round DE Jason Pierre-Paul, as well as second-round DT Lival Joseph and sixth-round DE/LB Adrian Tracy. They'll need to be coached up well, and Umenyiora, along with Mathias Kiwanuka and Justin Tuck, could take an active part in their development if he takes the right attitude about things.

And if not, hey, the guy's still got to put up numbers to keep the paycheck, right?



One last article from the Star-Ledger out of rookie minicamp here. It's about William and Mary's Adrian Tracy, the Giants' sixth-round pick, who worked at strongside linebacker during the camp.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

No Power

I don't generally get bent all out of shape over a publication's power rankings during the season. And the occasional offseason power rankings rankle me even less because, let's face it, who knows how much of an impact any draft pick will make.

But ESPN's just-released rankings might raise a Giant eyebrow or two. Tom Coughlin's group is rated 17th, the lower half of the league. That's based on what many consider a less-than-ostentatious draft and a free agent period that saw them add just two safeties -- albeit good ones in Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant -- and a backup quarterback in Jim Sorgi.

What may rankle even further is that those rankings rate the Jets eighth.

Now, I know all you guys are a placid, agreeable group that generally goes along unquestioningly with accepted philosophy (too sarcastic?), but I thought you might appreciate an opportunity to have your own say.

So have at it. The floor is open.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Another Good Article

My friend, Patti Traina, wrote an article on UDFA linebacker Lee Campbell of Minnesota. So give it a read.

He plays in the middle, which means he's at least got a shot in an area of obvious need. But he'll have to beat out a crowded field that includes Jonathan Goff, who started the tail end of last season, and fourth-round pick Phillip Dillard of Nebraska. As any undrafted free agent does, he's got longshot written all over him. But he might be able to push a guy like Dillard to create a closer competition between the draftee and the rest of the field.


Good Piece

Here's a good article on second-round defensive tackle Linval Joseph from Jenny V. at the Star-Ledger.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Some Video

Didn't really notice Micah Johnson in the one practice I got to during rookie minicamp, but here's some Kentucky film that was put together by the Butkus Award watch committee. Rolando McClain of Alabama actually won the award, but Johnson looks pretty impressive here.


Micah Johnson

In the days leading up to the Giants' rookie minicamp, we had a lot of questions about one of the tryout kids, Kentucky middle linebacker Micah Johnson.

Seems like the school's leading tackler (105) made enough of an impression on the coaching staff, as he will become the only tryout to get a contract. An eventual roster spot is still a long, long shot, but at least he'll get a look at June's full-team minicamp to see whether he's worthy of getting a training camp spot.

Johnson made the announcement himself on his Facebook page.

"Killed mini camp!" Johnson wrote. "The coaches are excited about me..or so dey say! Lol...but yeah its offical [sic] I'm a Giant! Gettin signed tommorrow [sic]! Thankin god every second for givin me dis opportunity! So u know imma go hard!"

As high as the coach's standards might be for on-field production, they appear diametrically lower for grammar and usage. But, hey, he's there to make tackles, not lectures on James Joyce.

Here's what NFL Draft Scout had to say about the 6-foot-2, 258-pound Wildcat, whose stock dropped after a torn MCL in the Music City Bowl caused a slow 4.99 40 at the combine.

Read and React: Highly aggressive run defender. Can be beaten with effective play-action. Typically diagnoses run plays, showing the burst to slice through the line and stop the back for a loss. Feels blockers coming and protects himself from cuts. Sniffs out screens and draws. Rarely out of position against the run.

Pass defense: Only marginal straight-line speed and is stiff when asked to change direction in coverage. Shows at least adequate instincts for zone, but isn't a natural in this area.

Pass rush: Good size and strength to rush the passer. Typically relies on a simple bull rush, but can get under the pads of the blocker and push him into the pocket. Times his blitzes well and shows a closing burst when the ballcarrier is near.

Run defense: A decided strength in his game. Reads the action and shows a good initial burst to slice through the gap and close to make the tackle at or near the line of scrimmage. Good size and strength to take on and shed blockers, though he needs to be more consistent. Has a tendency to play too upright and can get locked up by blockers, but has good strength to disengage when he keeps his pad level low. Flashes the strength to pull down the ballcarrier with arm tackles while engaged with blockers. At his best playing in the box, as he has only moderate speed to beat the back to the sideline. Protects his knees from the cut block by sprawling and keeping his head on a swivel.

Tackling: Typically a strong, secure tackler in tight quarters and in space. Forceful hitter who has shown the ability to force fumbles, but could do a better job of wrapping up securely, as he'll launch himself into the ballcarrier (but also the potential to miss tackles). At least moderate lateral quickness and balance to break down in space and make the reliable open-field tackle on elusive ballcarriers. Good hustle laterally and downfield to make the play.

Intangibles: Has had multiple knee injuries, including one that required arthroscopic surgery in 2007 and twice losing time in 2009 to MCL injuries. Suffered his latest MCL injury in the final moments of the loss to Clemson in the Music City Bowl. Suspended in the spring of 2007 due to academics.

Guess that means I'll be saying farewell to my favorite tryout guy, 33-year-old defensive end Brandon Crawford. Semper Fi, Brandon.


That's It

So the rookies are off, not to be seen in these parts again until May 17.

I have just one question after seeing all these guys. Is anyone out there concerned about the physical problems first-rounder Jason Pierre-Paul showed during drills? Not only did he get tired, but he had some back twinges that made it difficult for him to get into his stance. Though he said it always happens around this time of year, I'm wondering if this could lead to some long-term problems during a lengthy season.



Saturday, May 1, 2010

Practice Done

Afternoon practice ended, so the rookies have just one more left tomorrow and will then depart for their respective schools.

Between returning vets, draft picks, and undrafted free agents, the Giants now have 79 players. That leaves room for one tryout kid like 33-year-old Brandon Crawford to get a contract, unless the Giants find more than one enticing and then would cut somebody to make room. They'll announce the lucky guy (or guys) tomorrow.


Nos. 1 And 2

Thought you might like to hear the interviews I taped yesterday with No. 1 pick Jason Pierre-Paul and No. 2 Linval Joseph. By the way, Pierre-Paul apparently got over his back and wind problems enough to participate in the afternoon session. And Joseph was said to have moved well for a big man during the morning session.


Gone Fishing

Full disclosure here. I'm not at rookie minicamp today. Gotta see a guy about a thing. But from everything I'm reading, first-round pick Jason Pierre-Paul seemed to have some trouble dealing with the high temperatures during morning practice. He was seen getting winded and getting his back stretched out.

Tom Coughlin indicated he wasn't too concerned about the physical state of his tall pass rusher.

"He is going through the conditioning aspect of this," Coughlin said. "I think he is suffering a little but he hung in there.

"I just think he is – like a lot of them, they are suffering a little bit because it is hotter than it has been. They have had two (practices) yesterday and they had a time to cramp up and get sore and then come back in this morning and have to do again. I wish he was running around like perhaps I had the thought that he would be. But he learns; he learns every time he gets out there."

Pierre-Paul told the media that he gets "a little pinch" in his back whenever he takes a long break from football, but that it's nothing to worry about. And he said he was in shape despite the stamina problems.

“No, I’m not out of shape,” he said. “I feel like I’m in good shape right now. The fact that I was out there bending down and stuff, it wasn’t that I was out of shape. I kept on telling coach that. I’m not out of shape now. I feel like I’m in great shape. It’s just my back was just killing me.”

Coughlin has put Pierre-Paul at both defensive end spots. As usual, he, like all the other rookies, are getting a lot of information thrown at them at once. But Coughlin didn't sound all that impressed with Pierre-Paul's ability to absorb it all. The coach called his progress only "so-so."

"Just like all young guys, they take a step forward and a couple of steps back and then in another period they go ahead and take maybe a couple of steps forward and only one step back," Coughlin said. "So it has been kind of that way."

Coughlin was somewhat more optimistic about fourth-round middle linebacker Phillip Dillard, who seems to be taking to the pro position.

"He seems to be doing well," Coughlin said. "He flashes. He seems to be enjoying himself and flying around and in good shape."

Dillard has been trying to be vocal out on the field, which Coughlin likes. But he also said the Nebraska tackler needs to get comfortable with his own game first.

"Solid football player who is smart enough to help us get lined up," Coughlin said as he enumerated the qualities he wants his middle linebacker to possess. "Can especially use on first and second down. Has got leadership tools, will earn the right to be a leader and perhaps be an individual that doesn’t mind telling other people when they are not in position properly; so a lot of those things.

"But I think the first thing that has to happen is that the young player has to get his own game in line before he can talk to anybody else."


On Dillard

Thought I'd start you out today with an interview from yesterday with fourth-round linebacker Phillip Dillard of Nebraska. He's a bit smallish at 6-foot, 245, but neither he nor Tom Coughlin see that getting in the way of his potential at middle linebacker.

Dillard showed good ability in going both forward and backwards into coverage at practice.

"He moves around well," Coughlin said. "He’s juggling around with making the calls and being aligned properly. He was noticeable."

Of all the picks, he's got the best shot at making an immediate impact as a starter, considering the relative inexperience of a middle linebacking depth that includes Jonathan Goff, a transplanted Gerris Wilkinson, and a lightly-used Bryan Kehl.