Typically, when you think of craziness surrounding a New York sports team the New York Yankees leap to mind. George Steinbrenner, the Bronx Zoo, the seemingly never-ending soap opera that is Alex Rodriguez, etc., etc.
Well, maybe it is time to revise that thinking. The 2009 Yankees are rolling efficiently, and fairly quietly, toward an American League East title. Not that far away, however, there always seems to be something not related to football going on with our New York Giants.
Welcome to the 'Meadowlands Madhouse.' Maybe not as sexy a nickname as the Bronx Zoo (if you have a better one, feel free to share), but it will do for now.
Think about it. Osi Umenyiora's little snit-fit Monday, in which he temporarily went AWOL after apparently not taking kindly to some criticism from new defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan is hardly the first unlikely distraction the Giants have dealt with in the past few seasons.
I will get back to Osi in a little bit. But, let's put him aside for now and run through the litany of other situations the Giants have had to deal with in recent seasons.
LET'S JUST LOOK at this season, for now.
- Plaxico Burress, of course. That started last season, and stretched halfway through training camp even though he was no longer a Giant.
- Antonio Pierce. The early part of training camp was filled with speculation about Pierce's possible punishment for his role in the Burress' mess. Thankfully, that worked out and it's over.
- There was the Michael Boley distraction in which he ended up suspended for beating his wife.
NOW, turn the clock back. For years, the Giants dealt with the guys I will refer to as The Three Divas.
- Jeremy Shockey finally whined his way out of town.
- Michael Strahan finally got his Super Bowl ring and walked off into the sunset. But not before putting the Giants through a couple of 'mini-Favre' will he play or won't he escapades. And having a few spats with Tom Coughlin. And trading some barbs with that other high-priced diva who played running back. We remember him, right?
- Tiki Barber. A great player, who should be remembered fondly as the best running back in franchise history. Because there is no doubt he was. Instead, he will be remembered by many (including yours truly) as a guy who put his personal agenda above the team and cared mostly about furthering his own objectives.
I'm sure there has been other stuff, but that is pretty much what leaps to mind. There always seems to be something other than football to talk about with the Giants.
SUDDENLY, OUT OF NOWHERE comes Umenyiora with a diva-esque move of his own.
Realize this. Modern athletes are coddled, given pretty much everything they want, always told how great they are by the people around them, and generally showered with adulation by fans. I watched Osi walk around the practice facility and the UAlbany dining area this summer, and that is the life he is used to. Criticized directly? Almost never.
Newsday's Bob Glauber expressed the hope that maybe something good will come of all of this.
There's no telling whether Umenyiora's anger will flare again. After all, he and the rest of the Giants are making a somewhat difficult adjustment from beloved defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who could always put his arm around you and offer a word of encouragement. Sheridan is not the touchy-feely sort and can come off as more of a tough guy, especially compared with Spagnuolo.
Which is not a bad thing at all. In fact, whenever you hear a player complain that a coach is being too tough on him, that's usually a good thing in football. The time to worry is when a player feels too comfortable around his coaches. Nice guys generally don't survive very long in the NFL; Spagnuolo is the exception.
In the end, I believe yesterday's incident actually will turn into a good thing for Umenyiora and the Giants.
Hopefully, Glauber is right. Long-time Big Blue View readers know how I feel about Osi. For the newcomers, let me reiterate my stance on Osi.
He is a terrific talent, but when they are both equally healthy Justin Tuck is the Giants best lineman. To be honest, Umenyiora did not deserve his 2007 Pro Bowl berth. He had 13 sacks, but six in one game. That means only seven in the other 15, and that's the problem with Osi. As great as he can be, there are too many games in which he doesn't show up. Osi is not as great as he seems to think he is.
Look at Osi's career numbers. In five pro seasons, he has had what I consider to be one -- yes, one -- great season. That was back in 2005 when he registered 14.5 sacks and 96 tackles.
My point is this. Osi needs to stop bristling at criticism, stop whining about playing time and his contract, and play football.
In short, he needs to shut his mouth and prove to everyone that he is still the great player he thinks he is.