There have been suggestions recently, from both inside and outside the Giants’ locker room, that the players are looking for a leader. Someone who can verbally set the tone, keep the team in line and be counted on to stand up and be accounted for when things start to go awry.
And that was before one of the most talented defensive players was waived for repeatedly violating team rules and protocols and, reportedly, getting into an altercation with a teammate over a free pair of headphones.
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So when it comes to an internal voice that can galvanize the team moving forward . . . whose line is it, anyway?
Jason Pierre-Paul would seem to be a logical candidate, but he said this past week that he isn’t running for the office.
“For me, I think my play says it all,” the defensive end said after the team’s third straight loss and fifth this season in which they led in the final two minutes. “ . . . I let my play do the talking for me. As far as other guys, if they follow, they follow. I’m more of a guy that whenever I’m on the field, I’m going to give 110 percent no matter how I feel, and they see it.”
After the loss to the Jets, Prince Amukamara spoke about Tom Coughlin putting the blame on himself as the coach (as he does after almost every loss). Amukamara said he flashed back to Antrel Rolle yelling at Coughlin for taking similar responsibility several years ago.
“ ‘No, Coach, it’s not on you! It’s on us! We have to start taking ownership!’ ” Amukamara recalled of Rolle’s impassioned reaction. “It made me want to say it , but that’s not my role.”
Not everyone is yearning for leadership. In fact, veteran defensive end Cullen Jenkins — who reportedly was in the middle of the headphone dust-up that resulted in the waiving of Damontre Moore on Friday — said the vacuum isn’t at the top but at the other end. “I don’t think leadership lacks. I feel like we have a lot of leadership,” Jenkins said. “But sometimes you need role players. Sometimes you need people who embrace the role as a role player on the team and not being in the spotlight.”
Still, it’s hard to find one strong, centralized voice. It used to be Rolle, but he left in free agency. Odell Beckham Jr. is developing that kind of intensity. Eli Manning is more a stabilizing force than a fiery one (and teams need those, too).
So what happens? The Giants are left to draw inspiration from a 69-year-old man doing jumping jacks.
Pierre-Paul is their best defensive player. He’s certainly the most accomplished. If anyone on the team could confront someone over his effort or guide the locker room, it’s him.
“I’ve been there,” he said of his resume. “I’ve been to a Super Bowl, I’ve been to the playoffs, we made the run my second year I was here with those other guys. No matter what the negativity was on the outside, what people were saying about us, we came together as a team, and that’s very special to have when all the guys come together as a team . . . We’ve got four games left and we can win all four of them, but it’s all up to the players, man.”
Sounds like something Rolle would have said. Pierre-Paul easily could take that job if he wanted. Perhaps the Giants would be better for it. He’s shown a newfound maturity since returning from his hand injury. He certainly has proved a willingness to sacrifice to return to the field. And in pregame huddles, he often is the one giving fiery pep talks.
But he’s not interested in being that guy. When it comes to spurring others to give that same effort, Pierre-Paul demurs. “I don’t know if a guy is going 100 percent. Only they know,” he said. “When the game is over, there is no need to argue or be very off.”
Maybe there is. Maybe there is.