Jonathan Goff’s future as a linebacker for the Giants could ultimately be decided in the next few months. With the release of Antonio Pierce last week and free agency and the draft looming, Goff could go into the 2010 season as anything from the starting middle linebacker to a special teamer who hardly sees the field on defense. Or anyplace in between.

But it’s his future beyond that future that Goff spent this week thinking about.
Goff was one of about three dozen current or former NFL players participating in a week-long Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program at the Harvard Business School. The program is part of an ongoing NFL-NFLPA initiative to assist players in preparing for their post-playing careers. And for Goff, the opportunity was too good to pass up.

“I just wanted to do something to keep my mind working,” Goff said. “These are the things I want to be prepared for when football is over and I’m not able to play anymore. The Players Association has done a great job providing programs like this and I think, for me, it didn’t make sense not to participate in something like this.”

Goff, who studied mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt as an undergrad, said learning about business at Harvard – about 10 miles from where he grew up – requires a completely different thinking style.

“Doing a math or a physics problem is a lot different than coming up with a business plan and putting it into action,” he said.

And the intensity of the program, which has the players basically working from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day, is a little reminiscent of rookie minicamp.

“It feels like it’s been a crash course on several different concepts that fit under those topics (of business and management),” he said. “We’ve covered a lot of information in a short amount of time. Not a whole lot of it is going to stick right away. But we have our notes and we’ve done enough in our small discussion groups where we have things down on paper to take away a great deal from this program.”

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Of course Goff does have a day job, and right now that’s as the projected starting linebacker on the Giants’ current roster (a job title that clearly has a few noncommittal ambiguities and disclaimers to parry against future moves by the team). He started the final five weeks of the season after Pierce was put on injured reserve.

“I feel like I was making progress,” he said of his play, refusing to say whether he played well enough to earn the job in 2010. “It’s my job to go out there and give it may all on every down, but that’s for them to interpret.”

Goff said he was not expecting the team to release Pierce, but is glad that he got to spend his first two NFL seasons learning at his side. He also said he has yet to hear from new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, who was hired last month. Goff said he’s “not sure” if it’s odd that his newest coach has yet to reach out to him.

He’s also aware that the Giants could wind up adding a middle linebacker to the roster between now and September, whether it be a high-priced free agent like Karlos Dansby or a high-round draft pick like Rolando McClain or Brandon Spikes. How would he react to such an addition?

“It’s hard to say,” he said. “I don’t really see how that would be any different from them finding a player at another position. They like competition. Competition is good, it makes everybody better.”

Does he think the Giants need to bring someone else in? Or does he think he can handle the job?

“That’s for them to decide,” he said. “Those are decision they’ll make with confidence. My job is to come in and give it my all.”

(Photo: Getty Images)