It’s a song being sung by 32 NFL coaches this week as they send their players out into the world for the true offseason and hope that they return in six weeks healthy, fit and ready to begin training camp.
Be careful out there.
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Stay out of trouble.
Don’t do anything stupid.
For most players, whether it be veterans whose eyes glaze over at the refrain or rookies who have been sprinting through the college season-combine-draft-intro to the NFL grind for the past 11 months straight, the warning is just something coaches have to say. But for the Giants, after what happened to them last offseason and how it affected their 2015 regular season, the alert is real and is something they paid very close attention to on Wednesday night and Thursday when the message was delivered at minicamp.
Jason Pierre-Paul is not only a Giants player. He and his mangled right hand from a fireworks accident last July 4 are cautionary tales for the pitfalls of life away from the team. And his teammates recognize it.
“Absolutely,” third-year linebacker Devon Kennard said. “Anything can happen. You see crazy things happen around the world all the time, so you have to really be careful with what you are doing, who you are around and the places you are going. We live in a crazy world, and there is a lot of stuff going on.”
That’s why new coach Ben McAdoo wasn’t the only one to preach the annual getaway-day gospel. He also relied on his veterans who witnessed the effects of last year’s Pierre-Paul incident to spread the word.
Running back Rashad Jennings said he and a few other older Giants met with the younger players to “remind them that they worked their entire life to get to this position and find themselves in one of these buildings and how it can be taken away so quickly.”
“It goes a long way when you hear it from players, more so than coaches,” Jennings said.
For McAdoo, this was his first opportunity to deliver the parting address on what many players feel to be the last day of school. He said despite his new responsibilities he has no elevated anxiety as the players leave his watch.
“We hope they all make smart and wise decisions,” he said. “I think we have a good locker room, a strong locker room. I trust them.”
That doesn’t mean the Giants will go unscathed over the next six weeks, even if they do try to stay away from trouble and danger, even if none of them decide to put on a fireworks show (Pierre-Paul has already said he plans on being out of the country for the upcoming July 4 holiday, far from any pyrotechnic reminders).
“In this business, making good decisions and surrounding yourself with people you respect, admire and want to be like is important,” McAdoo said. “Anything can come around the corner and bite you in the backside in this business, so you always have to have your head on a swivel that way.”
Jennings agreed that not all bad situations are avoidable.
“Yeah, accidents happen and things happen,” he said. “It’s part of life, it’s unfortunate. We all know that. You can’t rewind the tape. But we can preach what to do in the offseason. We trust each other and we know everybody is going to come back with a fire in their eyes with a lot to prove. A lot is in front of us.”