Former NFL player-turned-agent Ralph Cindrich has seen his share of crazy off-field situations over the years, but nothing like the one facing Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. If it were up to Cindrich, Pierre-Paul would have taken a much different approach than the one he ultimately took.
Pierre-Paul suffered injuries to his right hand in a fireworks accident on July 4 but has met with the team only once. He purposely kept the Giants at a distance and did not disclose the extent of his injuries to the team despite the Giants' designation of Pierre-Paul as their franchise player in the offseason.
"I don't get it with what's going on with Jason Pierre-Paul," said Cindrich, who has written a book, "NFL Brawler," detailing his experiences as a player and agent in a career spanning 40 years. "You don't have an obligation to cooperate with the team? They don't have a right to know? I think it's pretty obvious it's pretty much screwed up. When you have those circumstances, if the guy can ever come back, you don't want the stigma of a total failure to cooperate."
The Giants continue to hold out hope that Pierre-Paul can make it back sometime this season. A source familiar with the team's situation said this past week that he believes Pierre-Paul might be in a position to play the final month of the season, although the person also understood that Pierre-Paul's injuries might be too severe to allow him to play at all this season. Another person familiar with the Giants' situation said he is skeptical that Pierre-Paul can come back this year.
Either way, Cindrich said Pierre-Paul should have been more up front with the team.
"[If] I were involved, if I had a client in trouble, you want to go to the club first, unless it's a violation of the law," Cindrich said. "In that case, screw the club and the NFL. You make sure his liberty is protected. But I would have fully cooperated with the club , from top to bottom. From the outset, I would have tried to cooperate. Otherwise, you're hiding."
In all his years as an agent, Cindrich said he never encountered a situation similar to the one Pierre-Paul now faces.
"I've had some crazy guys and some crazy situations, but never something like this," he said. "You're a franchise player, you have a lot at stake."
In his book, Cindrich offers plenty of colorful stories about his days as an NFL linebacker with the Falcons, Patriots, Broncos and Oilers, but it's his long-standing experience as an agent that provides the most insight into the wheeling and dealing that goes on behind the scenes. Cindrich has been a major operator in the NFL contract business, and the deals he negotiated for players such as offensive lineman Will Wolford, linebacker John Offerdahl, center Dermontti Dawson and former Giants running back Rodney Hampton were among the most lucrative during their eras.
Cindrich also is known to have gotten his share of general managers angry at him for pushing the envelope too hard during negotiations. He enraged former Bills GM Bill Polian to the point that Cindrich responded with an obscenity-laced tirade over the phone from his home outside Pittsburgh. Cindrich was out on his deck at the time, discussing a contract for linebacker Shane Conlan, when he went off on Polian. Little did he know that a woman who lived in a home near Cindrich heard the screaming. After that, she stopped talking to the agent.
He's one of the league's more colorful characters, but Cindrich continues to be held in high regard around the league, and his book offers plenty of interesting and entertaining stories of what goes on in NFL front offices. His dealings with coaches and executives such as Bill Cowher, Jimmy Johnson, George Young, Bill Parcells, Art Rooney and Al Davis offer a unique window into the business of football.