It’s been fun watching Osi Umenyiora follow in footsteps similar to those of former Giants great Michael Strahan.
Drafted in the second round from a small school, bursting onto the NFL scene, and now taking advantage of his season-ending knee surgery by getting a head start on his post-NFL career.
However, he didn’t manage the situation as maturely as he should have.
Umenyiora surprised many by appearing on ESPN’s pre-game show preceding the Giants vs. Browns game. He appeared to be very comfortable talking about an array of topics with the current analysts at ESPN and definitely made a great first impression for potential job suitors down the road.
Except, as a Giants fan, I wasn’t pleased with Umenyiora’s statements.
The first thing that negatively influenced my opinion of him was his common use of the word “they” when referring to the Giants. He used it too frequently and almost as if he is no longer part of the team.
But it was on Inside the NFL where Umenyiora’s opinions really irked me.
This past June, there were strong rumors that Umenyiora desperately wanted to re-work his contract that he signed only a couple of years back. Apparently he was displeased with the structuring of it, and as a result he fired his agent after the Super Bowl.
Couple this with the fact that “backup” Justin Tuck received a monstrous deal worth slightly more than Umenyiora prompted him to ask the Giants for a new deal.
When all signs pointed to him being a training camp holdout, Umenyiora came out during a public event proclaiming that he knew the Giants would take care of him, and he would hold off on demanding a new deal until later.
Fast forward to mid-October. Umenyiora continues to parade through major media outlets, contributing significantly to an airing of Inside the NFL. At one point, he was asked about the situation with Plaxico Burress, and what he makes of it.
“I don’t agree with the way some players responded, coming out and openly supporting the team or openly supporting the organization as far as the discipline for Plaxico Burress is concerned. You can never come out and defend the team against your own teammates.
"He’s the guy who’s going to go out there, blood, sweat, and tears for you. At the end of the day, the team is going to look for your replacement while your teammates are there for you for the rest of your life.”
Before criticizing his teammates, Osi should have looked at his own situation. With reports that Osi already lost a substantial amount of incentive-based money due to his knee injury, one can be sure he will be much more aggressive in the summer of 2009 looking for a new deal.
Osi, don’t you think that you’ll want the full support of your teammates in the event that this re-negotiation doesn’t turn out so pretty? With comments like the ones said on Inside the NFL, he isn’t helping his case.
For the record, Umenyiora is going to be a monster in 2009. With the emergence of Justin Tuck and success on the interior from Fred Robbins, there won’t be nearly as much attention on him as he thought he would command in 2008.
Despite the 14 sacks, that knee bothered him through the bulk of the 2007-08 season. Can you imagine what he can do when he is fully healthy?
But all of that goes for naught if he doesn’t handle himself better. He is going to have to re-establish his place in the locker room after making a name for himself by throwing his teammates under the bus.
Also, with the success of Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka, he should realize that the Giants have all the leverage, and won’t give into his whims.