Giants: The Ali Awards for the First Half of 2013


Many people who know me understand that I rarely judge a book by its cover, and I always take look at a number of angles when it comes to analyzing a situation, a team, or a player.  In fact, I was corresponding with one of my friends from the (esteemed) Sirius NFL Radio Heads group last week, who – like many – looks at stats and numbers to make his weekly picks.  While I absolutely think that hard data and analytics are very important, I don’t believe it’s the only information needed to make a pick.  Intangibles, such as strength of character, tenacity, risk-taking, leadership, teamwork, are all critical skills for any winning proposition.

So today, I’d like to acknowledge a few New York Giants for what I have seen from them in the 1st half of the season.  In the next few weeks, I’ll also take a look at a few other teams.

Comeback Player of 1st 8:  Do I even need to say it?  T2, Terrell Thomas, put all doubters in their place, and has made everyone pay attention – this morning he even won recognition as NFC Defensive Player of the Week.  His resilience, tenacity and steadfast commitment that he would make it back after being out 2 years and 2 ACL surgeries, is nothing short of miraculous and inspiring.  I remember T2 before his 1st NFL ACL injury.  He was prime for a standout season, and as a leader on the Giants Defense.  To see him come back and look AS STRONG as he does then is an amazing testament to his dedication and work ethic.  I couldn’t be prouder as a Giants fan.  His adorable little girl (who he proudly and often shows of on his social feeds) has a daddy to be very proud of.

The ‘Come Hell or High Water We Are Going to Make BIG Things Happen!’ Award:  This goes to the guy on the team who has become the outspoken leader of the defense, and passion leader of the team: Antrel Rolle.  How many times have I mentioned I LOVE this guy?  And now I am wearing a 26 on Sundays – because I started wearing it the week we started winning!  This guy is so committed to his team, his coaches, making things happen that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.  He puts it all out there to rally the team and he tells it like it is.  He’s a risk taker on the field and off in effort to benefit the team, and there is no question in my mind why he was nominated as a captain this year.  Frankly, he reminds me of me when I have been at my best – and so he inspires me daily.  (AND – he’s from The U – and so he’s in my alumni club).

Best Special Teams Play (too bad it was in the Pre-Season): DaMontre Moore for his MONSTROUS blocked punt on the 13-yard line during the pre-season game against the Steelers. The ball was recovered by Giants WR Louis Murphy and returned to the 5, setting up a 23-yard field goal by Josh Brown.  The image of this play will go down in history and I can’t wait for MOORE from this guy.

The ‘Guy Who Says He Wants to Inspire Lives, and Doesn’t Realize He is Already Doing It’ Award:  Steve Weatherford – I wonder if he realizes that he touches the lives of so many people every single day?  I could probably write a dissertation on my observations of #9 over the last year or so.  He is one of the most rigorous people I have ever seen (and I know a LOT go-go-go people) – and I can only imagine this, because I’m obviously watching this from afar.  Outside of his practice schedule, it seems he is constantly involved in community service and promotional activities, fitness shoots, obscene workouts, and more.  Can I just say something?  If there’s a guy who has cracked the code on understanding how to inspire people and share the positive through social media, it’s Steve.  Whether it’s empowering quotes from Coach Coughlin, photos of his teammates, pics with happy children, visit Ghana to build a school, or sharing his journey through real food, fitness or helping out after Sandy… this guy makes a difference everywhere he goes.  Bonus Award goes to Steve’s wife and children for supporting him.

The ‘I Made Like Michael Strahan and Lost a Bunch of Baby Fat, and Now I look Like The King of the World’ Award:  Have you seen Dave Diehl this year???  He came back to training camp clearly having worked his butt off in the offseason – literally.  He reminds me of the time when Mike Strahan came back one year and he had transformed from a chubby guy to a lean mean fighting machine!  And while I’m at it – Dave’s taken a lot of criticism over this last year.  He also gets my Lifer in Blue Award for his undying loyalty and commitment to the success of the New York Football Giants.

Runner Up: Justin Tuck, who clearly also spent a lot of time focusing on getting fit for the season, and while (also) often criticized, to me, despite the big sack number – seems to be showing his athleticism more this year, and I have a feeling it’ll get even better.

(image courtesy of The NY Post)

The ‘I Need a Little Chill Pill to Calm Myself Down Because Once I Get Started It’s Very Hard To Slow Me Down’ Award: Will Hill – Because in only 4 games, #25 seems to be there making something happen every time I look up, and because in FOUR games, he has 25 tackles and 1 interception.  I don’t know, but maybe it’s a sign that legalizing…

The ‘I Pretty Much Never F-Up, But In Week 8 I Did, and I’m Fairly Certain I Never Will Again’ Award: Zak DeOssie.  One thing you can always bet on is that Zak will almost always be in the middle of a Special Teams play.  Almost anytime I look up, #51 is in on the tackle, or very close to it.  This Brown-educated team captain made a few very atypical mistakes in Week 8 against the Eagles, including the snap to China over Steve Weatherford’s head, that allowed for their one score of the game.  I have the utmost confidence he won’t allow that to happen again.

The, ‘I Know the Business Season Was a Pain, But Frankly, I Am Delivering What I Said I Would’ Award:  Victor Cruz – because as much as the business season and media was ready to drive me absolutely up a tree, and I certainly spoke out about my concerns around missing OTAs, this man has proven me wrong.  His dedication to the New York Giants, his growth as a player, and his ability to bring the big plays is something we as fans can count on.  I am looking forward to hearing some more Tito Puente in my life in the second half.

The Media Overkill award:  Hakeem Nicks – Come on, seriously?  Chill already.  Can you (yea, you are anyone in the NFL media) please just leave him alone and let him play?  Hakeem’s a #1 WR, and over the last few weeks, I really started to get annoyed by the number of articles predicting his trade.  And just so you know?  It was so annoying I stopped clicking on the articles.  There was NO WAY that was happening.

The, ‘Don’t Tell Me I Can’t Play Anymore – I Just Need To Be Wearing Blue’ Award:  Brandon Jacobs – Being a lifer Giants fan who now lives in the SF Bay Area, and having watched what went on with BJ last year, I was more than THRILLED to see the Passionate Blue One have a 106 yard, 2-touchdown game in Week 6.  He is True Blue for life.

(image courtesy of The NY Daily News)

The ‘I Will Leave No Stone Unturned Until I Figure This Out’ Award:  Eli Manning – I mean I think it’s safe to assume that most Giants fans who watch him closely, share an incredible respect for #10.  Eli sets an amazing example by never losing his cool under pressure.  He’s always been the perfect personality for the scrutinizing New York media, because it always seems Eli lets things roll off his shoulders, and forges ahead  (a lesson we can all use in life) – regardless of a bad play, a bad game, or a bad 6 games to start a season.  Well in the first half of this season it almost appeared as though the losses were getting to him.  You could practically see in his face that Eli was struggling to find an answer to the chaos – often while being trounced to the ground by the opposing defenses.  It pains me to say that by game 6, it almost seemed as though some of his confidence had seeped as the turnovers accumulated.  But in the last 2 weeks it seems he may have begun to regain his swagger.  There have been no turnovers, and there was this one play in the game against the Eagles – I wish I could remember the details enough to name the play – in which Eli was hustling like no tomorrow to make sure everyone on the Offense was where they were supposed to be before the snap.  It cracked me up.  It was a, ‘If it’s to be, it’s up to me’ moment.  Here’s the thing.  He hasn’t had a great first half, but as a Giants fan, there isn’t ever a question that Eli Manning is going to do whatever is humanly possible to help his team get a W.  I for one, and I know I speak for many, am so proud that we got this guy as OUR quarterback, and I wouldn’t want anyone else.  Over the years getting to know Eli, I have started to want the win for Eli (and Coach) almost more than I want it for myself!

The Favorite Current Giants Player of the VERY Loyal, VERY Dedicated United Kingdom Giants Fan Club (300 members):  I was going to include this here, but I received SUCH GREAT INPUT from this amazingly dedicated and thoughtful fan group in Great Britain, that I am going to save my comments for a blog focused on them alone.

Until then, Cheers!