The Outsider’s Report: Training Camp 2002 Special Edition
By BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Daniel in MI
Well, it’s deep into training camp, and all of you who shelled out money for your subscription to TOSR (The Outsider’s Report) are probably wondering where your latest editions are. The truth is, it was hard to raise enough money to cover the Giants this year, what with all of our stock in a diversified portfolio of Enron, AOL/TW, and Worldcom, so we had to sell our sperm. When that didn’t raise enough (according to the charges filed, you have to sell it to special “banks,” not just at a stand on the street like lemonade – who knew?), we decided to just have our reporters wing it as always. The hard part was finding enough reporters to stay off ether long enough to type up notes. HST was right, there is nothing in the world more reckless and irresponsible than a reporter in the depths of an ether binge, and you can take that to the sperm bank.
Anyway, as in years past, our camp reports are filled with the keenest insight that can be gained from the team, or at least made up, based on our observations from only a few hundred miles away. Although we have no “connections,” no “insider knowledge,” no “useful perspective,” no “first hand information,” no “horses mouth,” no “scoop,” no “data,” no “validity,” and although much of it is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, we as always, are confident that our information scores over the more pedestrian sources of information in two important ways: 1) it’s free; 2) (TBD). But, enough of this, let’s talk about the first thing that’s on everyone’s mind.
The Fight! Yep, that’s right, by now you have all heard about the big fight. All the papers are talking about it, the coaches are talking about it, players are no longer supposed to talk about it, but we have the real story. That’s right, we’re about to reveal the real story about what happened in the fight between Jody Littleton and Aaron Kernek at dinner the other night. You see, the reserve LB and FB were standing in line at the training table, waiting to get some Veal Marsala. Littleton made the comment that he really loves the sage and proscuito flavors. That’s when Kernek snarled, “that’s Veal Saltimbocca, you troglodyte.” Well, that’s when it all busted loose, because a player as established as Littleton is not going to be called a troglodyte by the likes of Kernek, we all know that. So, Littleton shot back, “you wouldn’t know an Ice Wine from a Grappa, you heathen” and then it was on! Kernek threw a dinner roll right in Littleton’s face, and Littleton countered with a scoop full of lasagna and a tossed glass of Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon (strong blackberry and currant flavors, with hints of fresh black pepper and allspice, finished well – tasted twice, same result). At this point, something distracted the players on the other side of the room, which appeared to involve Shockey somehow, you know how the first round picks all love attention. Later, when we found coach Fassel getting a boil pieced by the trainer, he made this comment, “I like ‘em a little feisty, but I’m not going to tolerate that kind of a waste of food. You don’t throw a meat lasagna, vegetarian maybe, but not meat. And, why a player that’s been through college can’t tell the difference between Saltimbocca and Marsala is beyond me. That’s just not getting with the program, that’s not up tempo at all.”
Meanwhile, speaking of Shockey, the first-round pick from Miami – fans and players alike are keeping expectations realistic for the new TE given that he got to camp late and has a lot to learn. We cornered one knowledgeable fan attending camp in the port-a-john who said, “I try to keep it all in perspective. I mean, he’s just a rookie. I’d say…he’s going to be our savior. He’s going to catch 107 passes, have 25 touchdowns, and have 1000 yards rushing, block Bruce Smith and Jevon Kearse single handedly, kick Arrington’s ass, be a pro-bowler and NFL Player of the Year and Superbowl MVP.” Fans are sometimes a bit overly enthusiastic. So, we needed a players perspective. We caught up with Mike Barrow using his Garden Weasel at home in NJ. Mike was more measured in his expectations of the rookie. When we asked him for his appraisal, the colorful linebacker said of fellow Hurricane, “He’s going to be the filling in our pie. He’s going to catch 106 passes, have 24 touchdowns, and have 999 yards rushing, block Bruce Smith and Kearse with one hand, slap Arrington around like a little bitch, be a pro-bowler and NFL Player of the Year and Superbowl MVP.” All of that had better be true, of course, or he will be another wasted pick.
Speaking of which, we caught up with Dan Campbell to ask how he feels about having some tough competition in camp for the TE spot. We caught up with Dan as he polished the bishop (the man loves chess), “I really like it,” he said unconvincingly. “You know, I’ve been here a few years now, I have my feet under me, and I just hope I can teach the guy a few things and help develop him.” Then we both had a good laugh, and we complimented him on his ability to say that with a straight face, “yeah, I’ve been working on that.” he said. “Really, I’m so f-cked it’s unbelievable. It looks like the best I can hope for is to hang on as a blocker like Cross did, stay under the radar. I can’t believe I sweated my balls off in the sweltering hellhole of College Station Texas for years to end up like this. Maybe I can bulk up and be a lineman. We’re desperate there. Christ, if Bober is getting a look, I’m sure if I pig out for a few weeks I can compete there.” We gave him some employment applications and wished him well.
Of course, despite the excitement of the Littleton-Kernek battle royal, the initial fight everyone expected to see at camp was between Tiki Barber and Michael Strahan. The two came to camp with the much publicized off-season tension betwixt them, and all of us media vultures were ready to pick through the carrion of their now dead friendship. It’s a great job! We had a lot to report. At first, it seemed that it was all going to come to a head as Strahan raced toward Tiki as he came around end. Just when it was all going to explode in a frenzy of hitting, curses, recriminations, and blood, MS pulled up and nothing happened. Then, as the tension mounted, more nothing happened the rest of the practice. Then, they passed by one another without saying anything, which was newsworthy enough to be on ESPN. Then, more nothing happened. Next, a joke was made by Strahan, which incited no incident at all. This prompted some of the media to get a bit edgy, so they began poking and prodding other players to see if something would happen. It almost did one time when Tiki Barber bent down to tie his shoelace, and Michael Strahan was on the other side of the field talking to someone else. At that moment, you could almost have felt the tension between Tiki and Michael had they been near one another or even paying attention to one another. It could have been very exciting, I can tell you. There is a strained truce now, but you can just tell that with these runaway egos, anything can happen [Editor’s Note: Please, LORD, let something happen!]
Speaking of runaway egos, one of the most photographed players is the expensive CB Jason Sehorn. His 4th knee surgery is said to be healing well. The normally confident, optimistic JS was sure he’d be leaping about like a young gazelle in no time. We caught up with him as he measured his sideburns with a laser micrometer and asked about his leg. “My leg is a twig, and it is oddly colored, I don’t move well or cut well, or put full weight on it, but I expect to be at full speed by our first full game. No problem.” Likewise, Dusty Ziegler, the center and only member of the OL not moving positions, is also recovering from a knee operation. Our staff is glad to report that he’s going great! We caught up to him as he tried to wheel his chair across the far field at Albany where he told us about his leg, “Not too good,” he chirped. We asked for more details and he was happy to oblige, “My knee is killing me, it feels like sharp metal shards are grinding around against bone in there. I also think I’m having circulation problems, and I have a constant tingling sensation. The doctors are not even sure I’m going to keep the leg,” he bubbled. When we caught up with Coach Fassel getting his hot oil rub-down, he agreed. “He’s fine, Dusty will be ready to go in a day or so. I’m told it’s not a serious thing; nothing to worry about. He just bruised it.” So, nothing to worry about, Giants fans. On an unrelated note, EA did ask us to put out this question: Anyone have Derek Engler’s current phone number?
Next, we were able to watch new coach Bruce Read. We wanted to really watch him work with his new charges. He seemed very focused on fundamentals, on teaching technique. He wanted the players to have a feel for the nuances and subtleties of special teams. Some typical comments were, “NO! When we’re receiving the kick, you guys actually have to face in the direction of the kick when you line up. You don’t face our kick returner! What are you doing, you morons?!” Later he went into some finer details with the kick-return men. “When I say kick return right, I mean run to the right to get behind the wall. No, wait to catch the ball first. No, YOUR right you idiot! Jesus, has anyone here ever even watched a special teams play before?!” He was equally precise with the kickers and holders. For example, “Listen, I’m not sure who taught you to hold for field goals and PATs, but the traditional way to do it is to hold the ball so one point is on the ground and the other is up, and the laces are away. Putting the laces on the ground does not help.” To Pochemon he really went into the mental side of kicking. “What are you thinking as you line up for a field goal?” he asked. “Well coach,” said our young kicker, “First I think about my 7 steps, then I usually forget how many I stepped off so I have to try and remember where I was, then I wonder if maybe I didn’t remember wrong. Then I look at how faaaar away the goal posts look. Then I look at the center, because he always looks funny, you can see his butt. That’s a big butt! Then I think about how bad it would feel to miss this kick, and I hope I don’t shank it, or pull it. Then I look at the big board to see if I’m on TV, and I wonder if I should wave, but then I think I should be cool…” Coach just looked at him blankly for a good 15 seconds and finally said, “Ok, good.” I thought I saw a tear on coach’s face, but it was hard to tell.
Finally, we caught up with the super-coach, Coach McNally in the women’s room in the Martha Graham Dorm at the U. at Albany, and he agreed to let us interview him during practice. Coach McNally’s the man that’s going to take our young, untested line and make a rock solid wall of protection out of them for the QBs. Word has it that McNally, despite his age, has a fire in his belly, and told EA not to bother picking up an FA lineman. McNally was right at home working with his unit, and taking them through their technique drills. We asked McNally what he thought of his charges. “This is the best damn line I’ve seen in a long time.” said the coach without hesitation. Then he stopped to watch behemoth tackle Rosenthal in the drill, “Get down! Punch! Lean! Lean! YES! Good work! You’re going to be an all pro! An all pro!” yelled the coach as the tackle went through the moves. Returning his attention to us, he said, “Yessir, as long as we have Tony Munoz anchoring this line, there is nothing to worry about! Boomer will be just fine!” Then coach turned to a blocking sled that was unused. “Get down! Punch! Lean! Lean! Good work! You’re going to be an all pro, son!” he said to the sled encouragingly, before turning to us and confiding that he thought “that last one had the potential to make it in this league.” We began to have our doubts about the line when the coach later said similar things about a jug of Gatorade, a bag of footballs, and a 5 year old autograph seeker. Good luck, Kerry!
That’s it for this edition of the Outsider’s Camp Report. One thing is sure, with the first pre-season game coming up, some of these players will definitely make the team before this camp is over!