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SportsColumnistsTom Rock

Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora are joined in Giants lore; could Osi play a part in team's future as well?

Giants defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul, left, and Osi

Giants defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul, left, and Osi Umenyiora look on during training camp in Albany on July 30, 2012. Credit: Hans Pennink

Jason Pierre-Paul probably does not owe it to the Giants to show up anytime soon. He's a free agent who received the franchise tag and, his fireworks accident and its aftermath on the number of digits on his right-hand aside, his absence is largely business-related. His best chance at claiming as much of the $14.8 million is and always has been to get himself healthy and then report to the team.

But there is someone else to whom he might owe the respect of a visit, someone who could be a reason for him to break his silence and close his distance with the team and start to mend that relationship.

Wouldn't it be interesting if Pierre-Paul is in attendance on Wednesday when Osi Umenyiora announces his retirement at a ceremony hosted by the Giants? In fact, he should be.

It makes sense. Umenyiora was a mentor to Pierre-Paul when the talented but raw rookie arrived as the first-round pick in 2010. He taught Pierre-Paul how to be a pro. Their relationship was the latest in a long link of pass-rushers that goes back to Lawrence Taylor who begat Michael Strahan who begat Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, who begat Pierre-Paul. Wednesday, with Umenyiora officially retiring, he could hand that torch to Pierre-Paul in person. If he were to show.

Pierre-Paul is the only defensive end on the Giants' roster who played with Umenyiora. In fact, only four other defensive players are still around from his last season with the team in 2012 and none of them were key players at that point of their careers. There has been a tremendous turnover for the unit since they led the Giants to their fourth Super Bowl title what seems an eternity ago. JPP is the link to that group, one of the last on the team. Before the accident there was talk of him being the heir to previous championship linemen and even some thoughts that he might be up for a captaincy. That "C" is almost certainly not going to appear on his chest this season, but he needs to be here to witness the end of one era if he has any chance of becoming the centerpiece of the next.

Chances are slim-to-none that he will. Tom Coughlin said he has not heard anything regarding a date for Pierre-Paul's arrival.

"I don't know anything about that," Coughlin said when asked about an NFL Network report that Pierre-Paul will report sometime before the regular-season opener in less than three weeks. "He hasn't told me."

Eventually he'll arrive and the Giants will be able to examine his hand and the damage he did to himself. Pierre-Paul didn't have the respect to allow a visit from Giants trainers and staff when he was recovering from his accident in a Miami hospital early last month in the days following the incident, and it took a while for him to get in touch with Coughlin and other Giants brass.

Perhaps there is one person associated with the organization whom Pierre-Paul does respect enough to put aside his physical and financial concerns, swallow his pride, and make the trip to New Jersey from his home in Florida. It would make for a perfect day for the Giants if they could wave goodbye to one dominant defensive lineman and welcome home another at the very same time.

Imagine that. Osi Umenyiora, who for so many years was a contractual thorn in the side of the Giants, who once called Jerry Reese a liar, who once stormed out of the building from a tiff with the defensive coordinator . . . in the role of peacebroker.

Umenyiora's last hour as a Giant could be his finest. But only Pierre-Paul can make it that way.


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