In trying to defend Hakeem Nicks, his new teammate with the Indianapolis Colts, former New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw made some comments that were surprisingly critical of the Giants organization, reportedly saying among other things that "they try to make you feel like you're a cancer to the team."
The Giants, you'll recall, let Bradshaw go after the 2012 season despite his having gained 1,015 yards because they felt 2012 first-round pick David Wilson was ready for the lead role, and because they had Andre Brown as Plan B. The move was undoubtedly salary-related as Bradshaw had two years left on a four-year, $18-million deal.
"I know how it is over there. How they work," Bradshaw said. "It gets bad as you get more years in the league with Giants. You get the younger guys coming in. They visualize, and with me, they visualize me leaving and David Wilson coming in and being that guy. Andre Brown being that guy, and they had those two guys. They were like, 'Leave that money alone. Let him go, take care of the little guys.' That's how this league is becoming. As the year was going when I was with the Giants, my coach was like, 'They're just talking about younger, faster, healthy.' Nowadays these younger guys aren't as healthy. They come in and have some different stuff."
Nicks left the Giants this offseason for the Colts after a disappointing 2013 season that saw him catch only 56 passes and fail to score a touchdown. The Giants seemingly made little effort to keep Nicks once the season ended.
"I've been there," Bradshaw said. "They try to make you feel like you're a cancer to the team. Different things. It's really they want to try to get the younger guys experience and sit you down. Not that you've done anything wrong. I've been there and I know where he comes from. He's telling me, 'They said I was cancer there.' I know how it was cause I was there. I've been through that."
Bradshaw's comments, given to ESPN Colts reporter Mike Sando and passed along by Giants beat writer Dan Graziano, seem surprisingly bitter and come off like sour grapes. They are also revisionist history.
The NFL is always about younger, faster, healthier players. For Bradshaw of all people to gripe about young players who always "have some different stuff" in terms of injuries is ignoring the reality that his own inability to stay healthy is the biggest reason he's no longer in New York. Bradshaw's toughness can't be questioned, but neither can his long-running issues with his feet and ankles. Also, like Wilson missed the final 11 games with a neck injury, Bradshaw missed the final 13 last season for the Colts with his own career-threatening neck injury. His inability to practice on a regular basis hurt the Giants' offense and likely limited his own productivity at times. Considering his own lengthy injury history talking about others being unable to stay healthy is hypocritical.
The 'cancer' stuff also sounds like bitterness on the parts of both Bradshaw and Nicks. Bradshaw was never considered a 'cancer' in New York. In fact, both head coach Tom Coughlin and GM Jerry Reese lauded his toughness when he left and said the door was open for a return. Bradshaw has probably now slammed that door shut.
As for Nicks, I will back Graziano's account that he "never heard" anyone connected with the Giants call Nicks a "cancer." Whether he was committed to giving the Giants his best effort was questioned from the day he began skipping OTAs without an explanation, that much is true. Whether he was going all-out or holding back to try to protect his future value was questioned, justifiably. Whether a series of injuries to his foot and knees had robbed him of a little bit of explosiveness was questioned. But, "cancer?" Never.
Both of these players were great Giants at one time, Bradshaw part of two Super Bowl victories and Nicks part of one. It's a shame that Bradshaw has chosen the path of bitterness against the organization.
One note, though. This certainly does add some intrigue to the Monday Night Football game Nov. 3 at MetLife Stadium between the Giants and Colts.