Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 03-12-12

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 four sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.


By Dave Klein
Of all the memories that come unbidden when thinking about Brandon Jacobs, the gigantic Giant running back who was released last week, several categories come to mind:

--- Too big to fail, so why did he?

--- Angry, impulsive, mercurial.

--- Powerful, driven, often brutish.

--- Sometimes brilliant, often disappointing. Jacobs was 6-4 and 265 and yet there were far too many situations when he failed on third-and-one and fourth-and-one. That always begged the question of how somebody that big could fail to blast his way straight ahead and not gain a single yard.

Jacobs was of no help after those games. He wouldn't blame the offensive linemen (because he couldn't). He just shrugged and walked off, muttering something obviously unflattering on his way into the privacy of the trainers' room or the showers.

But in 2007 and 2008, Jacobs was everything the Giants wanted him to be, everything they hoped he would be. He gained 1,008 and 1,069 yards in those two seasons, and he was a force on the ground that helped to balance an emerging passing game.

Yet one moment emerges in the flashpoint of memory. It was the night of Sept. 19, 2009, the second game of the season. It was in and against Indianapolis, and the Colts walloped the Giants, 38-14. It was the so-called Manning Bowl, and Peyton crushed his younger brother, Eli.

As the teams walked off the field, Jacobs took issue with a small crowd of Colts' fans who were jeering him and the team. He ripped off his helmet and threw it with great velocity into the lower stands -- somebody got a great souvenir but somebody else missed sustaining a serious injury,

Reporters lined up at his locker, six and seven rows deep, and all the while he stood with his back to us, dressing. When the shirt and pants were on, when the tie was properly in place, he looked around and yelled, clearly upset: "Where the hell are my shoes?"

To which a reporter responded: "Maybe you threw them into the stands, too."

He did not laugh or even smile.

Jacobs started his college career at Auburn, but found himself behind two future first round draft picks, Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams. They were just sophomores and he was a freshman; his future there wasn't exactly bright.

So he transferred to Southern Illinois, one of the few Division I-II schools that did not require an inactive season, and the Giants found him in the fourth round in the 2005 draft. He was one of general manager Jerry Reese's obscure selections who turned into a diamond but definitely a diamond in the rough.

Jacobs took everything as a personal challenge and/or an affront, which is what makes great football players, but more often than not he couldn't deliver, he was more bluster than bite. He is the man who ran roughshod over Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis because he said he would; he is also the man who was ankle-tackled by 175-pound cornerbacks because he refused to run up inside but go wide like a scatback

So now the Giants must decide on their next running back to team with Ahmad Bradshaw (who just had yet another foot surgery). Last year's rookie, Da'rel Scott, might have some promise but the three-year backup, D.J. Ware, has little to offer. There are others on the roster, but none of them seem to have much of a chance.

Mark down running back as yet another crucial need for the defending Super Bowl champions.

EXTRA POINTS -- Free agency officially starts Tuesday and the Giants are floundering in the deep end of the talent pool. ... There are indications that they expect trouble re-signing cornerbacks Terrell Thomas and Aaron Ross, although those two are tied together and if one leaves the other will sign. ... Another report says they are not going to re-sign defensive end Dave Tollefson, but they could invite him back later in the spring for a much less expensive contract.

The veteran they almost certainly expect to lose is wide receiver Mario Manningham, and frankly, wide receivers are not like hen's teeth - you can find some almost anywhere you look. ... Remember what happened last spring when Steve Smith kissed them off and trotted on down to Philadelphia? Right, he did lousy and the Giants had "no choice" but to play Victor Cruz. ... So if Manningham wants a ton of money, he is going to have to get it somewhere else.

Linebacker Chase Blackburn wants to come back and the Giants want him to come back, but for the moment (and this is not intended to insult him) there are far more important issues to address. ... Sure it was a heart-warming story, how he came back after being released and started in the Super Bowl, but this is dollars (millions of them) and Chase, who's a good kid, will understand if he's ignored for a while.

The 2012 salary cap is $120.6 million and the Giants are just under by approximately $1.6 million. ... More trimming will be done soon, perhaps as soon as Tuesday, and this may be one of those years when general manager Jerry Reese decides to build from the draft and lesser-known veteran free agents.

Oh, and what about defensive end Osi Umenyiora? Is he going to get his extension? Is he going to have to play out the final year of his existing contract (poor guy will only make $4 million or so if that happens)? Will he yell and scream and have a temper tantrum?

We'll see, but isn't that what makes Osi so intriguing? And he is one of those few players who has all five vowels in his last name, not to mention the hybrid "Y" as well. See? That's interesting all by itself.

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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