David Diehl knows that many of you think he stinks. And the veteran New York Giants' offensive lineman couldn't care less.
"I’ve heard that since I was five years old. I could care less. I’m a fifth-round draft pick who’s started as long as I have, been in the league for 11 years, you hear that stuff all the time.
"I love haters, keep bringing it. I don’t care."
No matter what you think of Diehl's talent, and we know many of you think it's a lack thereof, you have to give the man some credit. During his time with the Giants, which began in 2003, he has done everything the organization has asked. He has always epitomized the Tom Coughlin 'team before self' mentality, starting at four different positions and -- maybe more impressively -- doing it without a complaint.
Now that the Giants have drafted Justin Pugh, a first-round pick many expect to eventually push Diehl to the sidelines, Diehl isn't moping. He is constructing a roadblock meant to keep Pugh at bay. He spent the offseason re-shaping his body, losing about 10 pounds to get his weight down to about 305, lighter than he has been since early in his career.
"You’ve got to do something to change things up," said Diehl, 32. "For me, it was changing my body style, changing my conditioning and I come out here and, the best thing is, I’m not breathing, I’m not heavy, I’m not any of that stuff because everything I did going up to this point. So, for me, there wasn’t an offseason. I was here the week after the football season, the week after I had surgery, and I’ve been here grinding all for this, all for this purpose, to come out here, lay it on the line and earn my position."
Diehl played through a knee injury that required offseason surgery, saying "In order to get me off the football field you’re going to have to shoot me. I’ll play through anything."
He admitted, however, that he knows the knee affected his performance.
"I didn’t play my best football last year. I’ll be the first one to say it. You’ve got to look in the mirror and judge yourself. Now that I’m healthy, now that I feel the way that I do, I know I’m able to go out there and play up to my capabilities," Diehl said. "No excuses, I’ll be the first one, I never make excuses for anything, I’m a team guy, I’m a guy who’s going to fight and all that stuff through thick and thin."
Diehl is in the final year of his contract, and he knows the end of his career is in sight.
"I’m not ready to hang up my cleats, I love coming here, I love playing this sport, I know what I’m capable of, I’ve worked extremely hard to prove it to people and I’m going to do it this year," Diehl said. "I’ve never been more ready to play football. Challenge me, throw what you want at me, I could care less."
Giants' fans should hope that that kind of attitude not only helps the team in 2013, but that it rubs off on young players like Pugh, Brandon Mosley and James Brewer. It's a big part of the reason the Giants have won two Super Bowls with Diehl in the lineup.
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First, a reminder that the Giants practice at Quest Diagnostics Training Center is closed to the public today due to the International Champions Cup Soccer doubleheader in MetLife Stadium. There is no practice Monday.
Yours truly will be making the trek from Albany to New Jersey for practices Tuesday thru Thursday, so be sure to look for those first-hand practice reports and interviews.