The New York Giants have had no shortage of roster star power since the turn of the 21st century. You know… the names that sit atop the Giants historical leaderboard, from Eli Manning (35,345 passing yards) to Tiki Barber (10,449 rushing yards) to Amani Toomer (9,497 receiving yards) to Michael Strahan (141.5 sacks). However, the lineup of vital contributors doesn’t end there. Here’s a list of five underrated Giants that won’t necessarily stand out in your bank of football memories, but perhaps they should:
*stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference*
1. Greg Comella, FB 1998-2001
Comella was an all-purpose fullback that garnered very little national or local notoriety. He was the “glue guy” during the Giants run to Super Bowl XXXV. Between the 2000 & 2001 seasons, he caught 75 passes for 527 yards out of the backfield in an offense devoid of tight end production. Undersized at 205 lbs, he wasn’t the prototypical lead blocker, but Comella never missed an assignment — who would expect anything less from a Stanford grad? Way back in 2001, Tiki Barber spoke glowingly of Comella’s dedication to his craft:
“Greg is obsessed with working out hard. He’d say to me, “Tiki, no one else is doing this. The reason we’re going to be successful is because we’re out here. No one else is putting their minds and bodies through this.”
2. Will Peterson (James), CB 2001-2005
A lower back stress fracture derailed the highly promising career of Peterson. He played an aggressive, physical brand of corner at 6’0 200 lbs, and flashed shut down potential when healthy and engaged. Peterson was not hesitant to battle with the giraffe wide receivers on jump balls and his tackles were vicious. He assembled his best campaign in 2004, notching 61 solo tackles and 14 passes defensed. Did Peterson fulfill his potential? Probably not, but he was a supremely talented Giant. Unfortunately… Peterson (or James) now faces up to two years in prison for failure to pay taxes.
3. Rich Seubert, LG 2001-2010
This description of Seubert from Tom Coughlin tells part of the story:
“Feisty. Loves to play. Loves to be a part of this team. Loves the New York Giants. Plays with every ounce of fiber that he has. Gives it all, shares it all. Not afraid to get on teammates, not afraid to be the rambunctious ones in the locker room, he stirs it up better than anybody that I have probably ever been around. Sometimes to the point you have to step in between. But we love this guy. And we miss him. I miss him.”
The rest of the Seubert story is a lengthy read on production. In 2007, Pro Football Focus rated him the second most effective guard in the NFL (33.5), behind only teammate Chris Snee. In 2008, he graded out as the 5th best guard in the league at 32.8. In 2009 and 2010, the twilight years of his career, Seubert still earned “green” ratings of 10.9 and 7.2. Jerry Reese labeled him the team MVP in 2010 prior to undergoing season ending surgery that effectively ended his career.
4. Gibril Wilson, S 2004-2007
Wilson started 51 games at both safety spots during his four-year stint in New York. Most notably, he was the starting FS on the Super Bowl XLII champion Giants in ’07-’08 — and broke up Tom Brady’s long heave for Randy Moss on the game’s final play. Not too shabby for a 5th round selection… Despite possessing the speed to cover ground on the back line (11 INT’s), Wilson lived for mixing it up at the line of scrimmage. Utilized more as a blitzing safety early in his career, Wilson sacked the QB six times in his first 24 professional games. He posted three seasons of 70+ solo tackles before Oakland signed him away for $39 million in 2008.
5. Willie Ponder, KR 2003-2005
An afterthought sixth round pick out of Southeast Missouri State in 2003, Ponder provided the Giants with a rare commodity in Big Blue circles — dynamic kick return skills. He finished 2nd in yards per return in 2004 (26.9) and 6th in 2005 (25.9); not to mention the 95 and 91-yard touchdowns on his resume. Unfortunately, coach Coughlin never felt entirely secure with Ponder, and one fumble essentially ended the proceedings.