Barry Cofield spent the first five season of his NFL career with the New York Giants, earning a Super Bowl ring in 2007. When he returned to work with the team Thursday, one day after signing a free-agent contract, he admitted to being "very nostalgic" about returning to the team where he started his career.
"It feels great, it feels great. It's very nostalgic and then you get to work and you feel good about that as well," Cofield said on Thursday. "So many familiar faces in the staff, front office, around the building, cafeteria, such a solid organization where you get that kind of consistency is very comforting."
The NFL, though, isn't a nostalgic business. It is a what can you do for me now business. The Giants, currently fighting for their playoff lives and facing the 13-0 Carolina Panthers on Sunday, did not sign the 31-year-old Cofield because of what did for them a few years ago. Or, what he did with the Washington Redskins the past four years. They signed him because Damontre Moore is in Miami. Because Owamagbe Odighizuwa is still on short-term IR. Because George Selvie has a concussion. Because Markus Kuhn, the player whose snaps Cofield is most likely to help replace, has a knee injury and is "week-to-week." Because their run defense, to put it kindly, stinks.
They signed Cofield because they need help. Now. And they think he can provide it.
"He brings veteran presence, he brings a guy that's very aware of the way in which we play here with the Giants. He's a guy that's in excellent condition, and I think he's really going to help us down the stretch here," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said on Thursday.
Cofield had hip and groin surgery following last season, and only began working out for teams in the past few weeks.
"It was all connected; I had a long stretch of groin and sports hernia type injuries that were all because of the hip," Cofield said. "The labrum and the hip was damaged and once we figured out that was the issue and corrected it, ever since then I've been on the up and up and I feel great.
"I feel great. Everybody, once they hit like year 8 or 9, they should take a year off. It's been almost a calendar year since I hit anybody and it definitely shows in the way that I feel. I'm excited about that, I feel like it was a fountain of youth, and I feel like I can play a few more years, that's my goal."
With Kuhn seemingly out for Sunday's game, Cofield will join a defensive tackle rotation that will include Cullen Jenkins, Jay Bromley and Montori Hughes. He said the Giants "will limit the snaps that I take, but that he is also "most comfortable" in the 4-3 defense after spending several years as a 3-4 nose tackle in Washington. Cofield added that coming to a team this late in the season is an "interesting" experience.
"It's definitely a position I've never been in but it's exciting. It's exciting to come in with fresh legs even though it's year 10 for me, I feel like a rookie out there," Cofield said. "I'm trying to pick up the playbook, the d-line room has been great and they welcomed me with open arms. They've helped me out there, helped me get lined up, and helped me in the classroom. It's a great group and I'm excited to help them."
The Giants will be excited if he can.