Can the New York Giants Recapture Their Harmony?
They experienced the emergence of Manning as the true leader of the team during a historic playoff run. They also saw the coming of age of a defense that was perfectly mixed with veterans and young players to form a ferocious pass rush.
Plaxico Burress dominated secondaries on one leg. How glorious it was. As the clocked ticked to zero, the exuberant Giants looked less like a team and more like a family.
They cheered, hugged, and doused one another with champagne in honor of their feat. I have such a clear memory of that day etched into my mind.
Well, as goes with time, those images are beginning to blur. The champagne bottles are empty, and the cups have all but dried up.
As we get closer to the ‘08 campaign, one that should be filled with defending our title and hopes of a repeat, there seems to be a disconnect in our harmony and, more importantly, our chemistry.
It began to unravel during the happiest of times. That historic playoff run. While 99.9 percent of the Giants’ roster was enjoying the ride, there was that .1 percent which got no satisfaction from it.
That was embodied in one Jeremy Shockey. While the majority of fans, myself included, were on cloud nine, No. 80 did not seem to share that level of enthusiasm. I must admit that I am not in his head. No one can truly know what he felt during that run.
Blame Fox Sports' cameramen, but every shot of Shockey did not show the face of a man whose team was making history.
In some shot's, had it not been for his name being placed under his mug, I’d would have thought he was a fan upset that his team was losing.
That behavior was easily excusable last season. The Giants' run through the playoffs was so great that even a dark cloud could not dampen our sunshine. However, this offseason, Shockey is voicing his displeasure.
I wonder if realizing the team was successful without him had anything to do with it. This strikes me as odd, with the success that the Giants had without Shockey, No. 80 should have been motivated.
Shockey should realize that Eli's emergence as the leader essentially stripped away his dissenting voice. And the play of Kevin Boss may have made him expendable.
Therefore, Shockey should have came to camp, shut his trap, played hard, and earned his place back on this team and in the league. I guess checking his pride at the door was just too much to ask.
As if that was not enough, now another Drew-Rosenhaus special is brewing. This time in the form of Mr. Burress. Burress played his heart out last season and is deserving of being compensated.
However, the holdout route is not the way to go. It is distracting to the ebb and flow of an offense. When he signed with the Giants, he agreed to those terms. No one forced him to sign anything. He seemed extremely happy at that moment.
Now, all of a sudden, he is unhappy. It should be noted that Plaxico is a great receiver. I believe that he should be one of the highest paid in the game, ask Al Harris. However, I disagree with the route he is taking.
Leave family business in house. Hopefully, he will take a page from Osi (at least for now Osi is doing it the diplomatic way, but things can always change).
Diplomacy can only get you so far. This week, Shaun O'Hara took it upon himself to criticize Burress and others. He pointed out that the Giants’ success was mainly a product of their cohesiveness.
O'Hara used the old adage, "there is no 'I' in team". Which is true, but apparently Shockey and Burress have examined the word "team" and realized, although there may not be an "I," there is definitely a 'M' and "E.”
Speaking on the letters of "E" and "M,” where is Eli Manning in all of this? In last year’s playoff, he emerged as the leader of this offense. With the recent retirement of Michael Strahan, he has graduated to the leader of the entire team.
Yet he has been deafeningly silent. It is good that O'Hara spoke up, but only comments from Eli can have a huge impact. Hopefully, when camp resumes, he will step up and let his newfound position carry some weight.
I hope the team will take the time, as a complete unit, to understand what they accomplished. They must realize that what they did had never been done before, and it was only possible by trusting and relying on their teammates to do the right thing.
The image of the G-Men in Glendale, hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, and in doing so, lifting the entire city, is an image I will never want to forget.
But as time passes and football strategies are replaced by business decisions, that image becomes more distorted by the minute.
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