Q&A: New York Giants General Manager George Young
Q. On July 25, we sent General Manager George Young a letter asking him to respond to ten questions provided by the editors of the Big Blue Home Page and our readers. Mr. Young was kind enough to respond to our questions in a hand-written letter, dated July 30, which we have reproduced here. Before he answered the questions, he made the following opening statement.
A. We have people here who understand the internet. Each department in organizations are full-time operations. My motto has always been “owners, own; managers, manage; coaches coach and scouts scout.” My whole life has been involved in football. Most of my decisions are based on facts, experience and trial-and-error. When making decisions, we rely heavily on the people who are best prepared. When there’s an “overlap,” I’m responsible for massaging the “overlap.” I’d rather the front office be criticized rather than the coaches, since the players relate to the coaches. I can’t always defend myself, nor do I really care to. I weigh every decision carefully, and do what I think is in the best interest of the franchise. Whatever decision is made, I make the ownership aware of everything. Obviously, they have opinions, but almost everyone of my efforts has their support. My contract gives me much flexibility in football decisions, but I always consult with them. All personnel decisions are discussed with the head coach. Sometimes he agrees, sometimes he doesn’t. All head coaches have had the same input here. Coaches are not authorities on cap problems, contract negotiations and scouting personnel. They do have input in things that affect the football. I made a mistake trying to answer these questions. I don’t want to write a newsletter. I have been on record for a long time for the last two questions. George.
Q. I understand that you do not like to comment on on-going negotiations (so you may choose to ignore this question), but the Michael Strahan situation seems very strange, that is, signing him to a one-year contract, then following up with a multi-year offer only days later. Now, there seems to be a very good chance that Michael will depart via free agency next off-season. Have negotiations been firmly postponed until then, or do you intend to make a major push to re-sign him after the season, but before the free agency period begins (i.e., what you did with Phillippi Sparks this past off-season)?
A. First, he had to sign the one year tender so the agent couldn’t make him a hold out. We offered the Ron Stone deal to Mike. The media called the Stone deal “lucrative.” Strahan and Stone were both restricted free agents.
Q. I have high hopes for Corey Widmer and Doug Colman inside, but it certainly isn’t far-fetched to believe that they might not be the long-term answer at middle linebacker. Also, although Ray Agnew seemed steady against the run, he, Keith Hamilton, and Robert Harris (when switched from defensive end in pass rushing situations) did not seem to make a big impact. The middle of the Giants’ defense still seems soft to me, would it be fair to say that upgrading the middle linebacker and defensive tackle positions will be a priority during the next off-season?
A. We hope the middle will be stronger in ’96 than it was in ’95. We’ll have to wait-and-see.
Q. Jerry in Rancho Santa Fe, California: (1) Now that we’ve had free agency and the salary cap for a few seasons, what direction do you see us going…or needing to go…in order to put and more importantly keep a winning team on the field? (2) Now that we are in the free agency/salary cap era what has changed with respect to policy making, player personnel, scouting, coaching and general all around decision making in the Giant organization in order to keep up with it all….how do you ensure that you are on the same page with the ownership and also your coach?
A. Still must rely on the draft unless major holes have to be filled through free agency. We keep everyone in the hierarchy informed of what is going on. We try to keep all on the same page when possible. Too big a question to answer in a few words.
Q. David W. in Hawthorne, California: With the advent of free agency, have the Giants put in place a plan to identify their nucleus of talent and developed an approach to locking up players identified as part of that nucleus up for long term. Is this where the cap surplus will be spent? How will the Giants plan to use free agency to supplement the building process? What is Reeves status for the long term in this rebuilding process? It seems to me if Reeves is here to finish his contract and leave, then he’s better off gone now and let’s get the guy who’s going be here when the rebuilding is done down the road. Is Reeves patient enough and committed to rebuilding?
A. Problem with locking up players is the targeting and judgement in determining who is solid and long term. Not easy with young team, i.e., Strahan has had one good year. We will try to sign own players when we can. Dan does well with young players. We must try to have some continuity.
Q. Tony in San Francisco, California: Not that we think you’re going to be searching for a new coach anytime soon, but to most fans — even the hard-core guys like us — a coaching search is pretty mysterious. What are the signs that an assistant or a college guy somewhere is head coaching material? Is it the overall success of his program? Is it the rumor mill (and do head coaches campaign for their guys to get open jobs?) How much does your personal exposure to guy determine your comfort level (for example, Handley and Coughlin worked for you while Capers and Cowher did not). In a nutshell, what do you look for and how do you know?
A. College coaches are seldom good choices unless they have NFL experience. I don’t have time to detail this answer. We do our homework thoroughly on hiring coaches.
Q. Martin K.: We were very weak at defensive tackle last year and there appears to be a further weakening with Keith Hamilton’s back still a very sensitive issue. What will be done to strengthen one of the most critical areas on the team with a great weakness against the run?
A. Hamilton should be OK after first preseason game. Having achilles problem now, not back problem. We are aware of our short-comings on defense.
Q. Eric and Peter in Paramus, New Jersey: Although you are against free agency, since you will be in good cap shape next off-season, how about giving this team an impact player on the defensive side of the ball? My other question is how about getting 1st round selection in camp on time so he can make an impact on the field in his rookie year? (Editor’s Note: Many fans wonder why the Giants are one of the teams in the NFL that never seem to get its first round draft pick signed by the time camp starts — is it the negotiating style of management, ridiculous demands made by the agents, coincidence, bad luck, etc.? In comparison with most other teams, it seems as if the Giants always fall short in getting their number one guy in camp on time).
A. We try to sign our #1’s on time. Look around the NFL and see how slow the process is. We are not always justly treated in how we sign players. For the most part we operate at the same rate as the rest of the NFL, however, the media here doesn’t recognize much west of the Hudson.
Q. Daniel L. in Rockville, Maryland: Why do you dislike instant replay? Under what conditions (if any) would you support instant replay? What do you see in the future for Danny Kanell? Do you think he will replace Dave Brown as the starter or simply back him up? If you do not project him as a starter, then why draft him (there were good defensive tackles and wide receivers available at the time)?
A. As he mentioned in his intro, Mr. Young has decided not to answer this question.
Q. Chris J. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Not that I disagree with the resigning of Rodney Hampton, but was it done strictly because of a lack of confidence in Tyrone Wheatley? And if the intention was to keep Rodney all along, why use the #1 pick on a running back with almost the exact same playing style as Rodney? (Editor’s Note: What we think Chris means here is that it seems that both Rodney and Tyrone seem to be the type of running backs that need to carry the ball 20-25 times per game to be truly effective — this has been a hot point of discussion The Big Blue Home Page).
A. No, it was not done for lack of confidence in Wheatley. We don’t want to make 49ers stronger and we don’t want to keep losing talented Giant players who have the respect of coaches and teammates. We tend to draft the most talented players.
Q. John G. from Lyndeborough, New Hampshire: What is the future of the field surface at Giants Stadium? I understand that real grass may not be suitable for the event load at Giant Stadium but there has been much talk about injuries related to artificial turf. I have often heard it said that there is a concrete surface under the carpet (ouch!) What type of solutions are you looking at? Are there any new types of artificial turf that are more “player friendly”?
A. As he mentioned in his intro, Mr. Young has decided not to answer this question.