This one will come as a shock to some. Actually, it comes as a shock to ME! How could I possibly be writing this? Who have I become?
Well actually, in the last couple of years, I’ve noticed a bit more appreciation toward players who just happen to be on other teams in the league – maybe some would call it a more objective view (at least that’s what I am choosing to call it because it’s better than ‘insane’). Don’t get me wrong – the superstitions are still in place, and I am, and always will be, a die-hard Giants blue until that day when cows begin to fly – but I do have to admit that I have found it in myself to say a few positive things about a select few players on…
…the other teams in the NFC East!
Why would I even dare to write this, you ask? Because yesterday, while I was on my stationary bike watching Total Access, I heard about an ACL tear in Eagles camp… WR Jeremy Maclin. And it took me back to his draft season – that 2009 Draft again… the 2009 Draft when I was hoping for some reason that the Giants would be able to draft this kid from Missou, who I had heard in an interview on Sirius XM NFL Radio sometime around the Combine that year, and whose gracious character impressed me as much as his ability to play.
Of course we all know that in the end, I was thrilled that we drafted Hakeem Nicks, and I now wear my 88 with pride every Sunday. But while I also spend Sunday’s rooting against Maclin’s team (and screaming expletives at my TV in the direction one of Maclin’s not-to-be-named-here WR teammates [when he happens to play] with that annoying smirk on his face), I still felt bummed that a good man and a solid team player was injured so badly in training camp, and will likely be out for the season.
I tend to draw conclusions about players - certainly by what I see on the field, as well as what I hear about and observe off the field – I really appreciate solid character in a player; a guy who shows qualities such as leadership, sportsmanship, teamwork, humility and service.
And so when someone asks me about the Redskins, the truth is – I like Alfred Morris. I like London Fletcher. I like RGIII. All three are solid competitors on the field (Lord knows RGIII gave the Giants fits last year and we are going to have to deal with that in order to get to another championships), as well as leaders off the field. I first noticed London Fletcher when he was a finalist a few years ago for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award – specifically for his work to help children learn about the principles of teamwork, leadership and community. And of course, it’s hard as Giants fan to miss London Fletcher’s passion on the defense.
Like Jeremy Maclin, I first heard Alfred Morris on Sirius XM NFL Radio sometime last year – I think it was an interview with Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan on Moving the Chains. Man, that kid was impressive! I think Pat saw the same thing – it was that first-ever interview type of experience when the kid just stood out. There’s just no possible way for me to wish any ill will on the guy because he happens to be a Redskin. He was down to Earth (still drives his 1991 Mazda), humble, an appreciative guy with what sounds like a fabulous family around him, and team player. It’s hard to see him as a divisional rival, because he’s just one of those players I have a hard time rooting against. So on a Sunday when we play the ‘Skins - I won’t root for them, but I certainly won’t be screaming too many expletives at Alfred Morris.
And lastly – I can’t cover this topic in full without finding something nice to say about the OTHER team in the NFC East…
Actually, it’s been my running ‘joke’ for quite a few years: ‘the one nice thing I have to say about the Dallas Cowboys is: Demarcus Ware’. And why is that? Simply this: because when he sang ‘Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes’ to his little baby girl on Hard Knocks a few years ago, and those dimples lit up with unconditional love for her, I was done.
That’s it. I have nothing left to say that’s nice about the Cowboys. (Actually, come to think about it, I haven’t said this out loud to anyone, ever – but I saw a piece on Jason Witten’s SCORE foundation for battered women and families of violence in the home last year, and while he will always be one of the biggest pains in the Giants cumulative butts on the field, I have to give him props and respect for what he has done.
So my cards are on the table. The reality is, as much as I ‘HATE’ these guys when they take the field on Sunday – I’ll say it again – there are so many players across the NFL who are making positive choices as community leaders, and example setters in their families and communities. And even if they just happen to be divisional rivals in the NFC East, they deserve to be recognized.
I’m just not rooting for them on Sunday.