Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 02-20-19

Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he is one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.


By Dave Klein
There are two major subjects for us to discuss today, namely the situation with the quarterback Eli Manning and the immediate future of safety Landon Collins.

Both could go, or both might stay. Eli may become the victim of the salary cap, since he makes nearly $17 million a year and the cap can use a little less pressure, especially from a 38-year-old athlete.

Collins just completed his fourth season in the NFL and is perhaps one of the top three safeties in the league. He is also without a contract, and as a free agent the Giants have only a few choices - put the Franchise tag on him to freeze his mobility for one full season or negotiate a new contract.

At the moment, he believes the team is not negotiating in good faith, nor with any discernable speed. So he recently cleaned out his locker and said his farewells to a few teammates. For the record, he SHOULD NOT be allowed to leave, and it may well be that in some strange twist of fate, Manning's immediate future is directly tied to that of Collins.

If one of them must go, then for any number of reasons it should be Eli, don't you think?

The Giants, according to many off-the-scene observers, are caught in the throes of a quarterback dilemma. Should they release 15-year-veteran Manning? Should they draft his successor in the first round of the April draft? Should they ask him to take a major pay cut so that he can fit more comfortably in the salary cap?

There have been several notable quarterbacks in the history of this team, among them Charley Conerly, Y.A. Tittle, Phil Simms, Kerry Collins and Eli Manning.

Oh, and let's don't forget Fran Tarkenton, since he is one of only two all-time Giants' quarterbacks who currently reside in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (along with Tittle).

Perhaps, of the half dozen or so quarterback through the team's history who have started and starred, the least memorable turns out to be Tarkenton, first a star in Minnesota and later the guy who returned to the Vikings to close out an 18-year NFL career.

In 1967, the Giants engineered a major trade that landed them the already famous Tarkenton, then (and later) the heralded "Fran the Scram" quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings. If he couldn't beat you by throwing the ball, then he'd scramble with it. One of the Green Bay immortals, a Hall of Fame defensive tackle named Fuzzy Thurston, said after the trade: "I need to thank the Giants. They got me a couple of extra years in this league because I don't have to chase that little bastard twice a season."

It was a breath of fresh air for a team that had fallen on hard times, which is a mild commentary on just how God-awful they had become. Head coach Allie Sherman was already gone and in his place was former Giants' fullback Alex Webster, one of the best guys around and a good friend until his death in 2012, but the things he didn't know about coaching the game of football on a professional level could have filled a book.

He instantly developed a dislike for the glib, chic Tarkenton, who himself immediately found a love affair with New York City and the Park Avenue literary and artistic gentility. The feud simmered, there was little conversation or interaction between head coach and star quarterback, and a year later it reached a boiling, bubbling point.

Tarkenton had suffered a sprained ankle and Webster decided he would keep him on the bench in favor of a journeyman quarterback named Randy Johnson. The game was played. The Giants won.

After, in the small head coach's office within the locker room in Yankee Stadium, Webster held court for a group of reporters.

"Why didn't Tarkenton play?" someone asked.

"Sprained ankle," Webster answered.

"He was a game away from the record of consecutive appearances in a game," the man said. "Now it's gone."

"Too damned bad," Webster smiled.

"Yeah, but you could have had him come in just to hold for the last extra point kick and the streak would have been alive."

"I guess I could have."

"But you didn't," the guy said.

"Right," Webster responded. "Now ask me if I feel bad for number-damned-10."

Given the strict rules by which all teams must adhere, it doesn't seem possible to pay Collins what he's worth and to keep Manning living in the monetary manner to which he is accustomed.

So who will go? Nobody has an answer, even those who pretend they do, which just adds more intrigue to this already fascinating off-season.

Check out Dave's website at E-GIANTS where you can subscribe to his newsletters which run much more frequently than what is available here.
- Team Giants

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