New York Giants fans fondly remember Jake Ballard, the tight end who rose from practice squad obscurity to key part of the offense as the Giants won the 2011 Super Bowl. Many likely privately hope that the Arizona Cardinals, with a plethora of tight ends on their roster, cut Ballard before the season so that the 26-year-old would be available for a return to the Giants.
That, however, is getting ahead of the story. Ballard's time with the Giants came to an end in that 2011 Super Bowl, when he tore his left ACL in the closing moments. Speaking with the Arizona Republic, Ballard recently described those frustrating closing moments in the Lucas Oil Stadium X-ray room as the Giants defeated the New England Patriots, 21-17.
"There's no TVs in there, no radio, we had no idea what was going on," Ballard said. "We kept hearing cheers but we didn't know who they were for. It was the most frustrated I've ever been. I'm like, 'We have to get out there to see what's happening in the game.' I'm hopping down the hallway on one leg and the doctor is saying, 'Get back here, you're going to hurt yourself more. So we got a golf cart and got out there just in time to see the last Hail Mary attempt by Tom (Brady).
"I'm sitting in the golf cart when the game is over. I don't even get to go up on stage for the trophy presentation. I didn't even know what to think. I enjoyed it with my teammates as much as I could and reality set in the next morning when I got my MRI."
Thus, after catching 38 regular-season passes and playing most of the game Ballard neither got to see most of the amazing conclusion nor did he get to properly celebrate the team's accomplishment. The joyous moment for his teammates and for Giants fans was one of mixed emotions for him.
The Giants lost Ballard to the Patriots the following offseason when they tried to sneak him through waivers to place him on injured reserve. Ballard never played for the Patriots, and finally returned to the NFL last season when he played eight games and caught seven passes for Arizona.
The Cardinals are flush with tight ends. In addition to Ballard they have second-round pick Troy Niklas, free-agent signee John Carlson and veteran holdover Rob Housler.
If Ballard were to end up the odd man out with Arizona would you like to see him back in blue, Giants fans?