Consider this the first direct challenge thrown at new Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. It comes courtesy of, as we should have expected, Osi Umenyiora.
"I’m not going to be a back up player, I can promise you that," Umenyiora said. "I’ll stop playing football before I do that ever again. This has been just the worst offseason of my entire life. I can’t even think of a time when things were this bad during the offseason. You’re supposed to be relaxing, but I can’t relax because all I can think of is the things that took place last season, you understand? So for me it’s not something that I’m going to do. If I’m asked to come back there and do that then I’ll just stop playing football."
Umenyiora, of course, is coming off a tremendously rocky season which began with a one-day walkout after a dispute with former defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, and continued as he struggled to regain his form after missing all of 2008 following knee surgery. His play slipped so far, especially against the run, that he was replaced in the starting lineup by Mathias Kiwanuka for the final weeks of the season.
He was so frustrated, in fact, that he thought his time with the Giants was just about over.
"Did it go through my mind? Obviously, yes," he said. "Obviously you come through a situation where you’ve been here for a long time and you’ve won Super Bowls, you’ve been to the Pro Bowl a couple of times, then things like that start happening, you start being benched and they say you’re coming in on the third down rush, I think it almost seemed like the writing was on the wall at that particular time. I felt like I had worn out my welcome, because for certain people, no matter what happens, they’ll never take them out of the lineup, you understand what I mean?
"So I felt that way. I felt like maybe it was my last year because of that situation. But you never know man. I hope it’s not. I hope things can be rectified and things can be resolved. But we’ll see."
Here's my advice to Osi. Shut your mouth and play better football. If you want status your performance doesn't justify, you aren't needed. The Giants should just move on without you.
Here is the link to the full interview on WFAN. 'Kudos' to my pal Ernie Palladino for that.