Osi Umenyiora said he wants to play another four years before he packs it in. Whether that stretch starts this year as a backup to Mathias Kiwanuka remains for the coaches to figure out. But it is that timetable that caused Umenyiora to pass up a recommended surgery on his hip and play through what he admits is increasing pain.
Surgery, he said, will eventually come if he wants to prolong his career. But that's a big question in his mind.
"Sometimes I think about it, that I do, and sometimes I’m like, really what am I prolonging my career for?" Umenyiora said. "I mean, everything that I wanted coming into the NFL, everything I wanted, I’ve accomplished, whether that’s winning a Super Bowl or being an all-star player or being financially secure. I’ve accomplished all that already, so I’m not sure that that’s something I want to continue to do.
"And that’s why I elected not to have the surgery because at this point, this year, this season is more important to me and to, I think, the fans than any injury. When I look around all I see is negativity and people saying I can’t do this and I can’t perform and I suck and at the end of the day I still feel like a professional player and when I look around and I hear about people saying that this team can go forward – I think we have an exceptional team – so this season right here is the most important, probably the most important year of my life."
Umenyiora said his philosophy is neither defeatist nor fatalistic, but realistic. He said the hip will eventually have to be addressed, but he's been fighting through the pain since 2006 and believes he can do it for another season. He said the pain even bothered him in the Super Bowl, that he wasn't sure he would even play until shortly before gametime.
As for potentially backing up Kiwanuka, Umenyiora completed the about-face from his Super Bowl week trade demands that started with the commencement of the offseason training program. He's been splitting first-team snaps with Kiwanuka.
"I think they’re going to use us to the best of our abilities," Umenyiora said. "I think there’s enough out there for everybody. Obviously I’ve been very selfish in the past with my demands and some of the things that I have wanted but I don’t really feel that way anymore right now.
"There’s enough playing time for everybody. As soon as I get on that playing field I’m going to make plays, period. No matter where they put me, if I’m coming off the bench, I’m just going to be the best bench player ever so whatever they require me to do, I think they’re going to use me to the best of my abilities because this team wants to win. It’s not a personal vendetta against me or anything that I’ve done in the past. I think that everybody needs to be a little bit less selfish and realize that there’s enough playing time, there’s enough money, there’s enough everything out there for everybody and I think we’ll be good to go."