However 2017 pans out for the Giants — and from here, in mid-June, there is a lot of optimism around the team that it will be a successful campaign — they would like for that destiny to play out on the field. No one wants something that takes place away from the team’s headquarters, far from the watchful eyes of the franchise during the next six weeks of down time, to have any role in defining the season.
“You just don’t want any phone calls late at night, that’s all,” coach Ben McAdoo said after Thursday’s final workout of minicamp and the last team function until the players report for training camp July 27.
The Giants got one of those two summers ago when Jason Pierre-Paul injured his hand, jeopardized his career and nearly lost his life in a fireworks accident on the Fourth of July.
“The less distractions, the better the opportunity you are going to get,” Pierre-Paul said before leaving for Florida to see his 3-year-old son. “Trust me, I’m living proof of it.”
Not every incident, of course, is as dramatic as losing fingers in an explosion. But even the little ones add up.
“What you do behind closed doors shows up on the field,” Pierre-Paul said. “If you are out partying and all of that, you’ll come in and be really out of shape. But if you chose to go about it the right way, it shows.”
Pierre-Paul was one of several veterans who shared that message with the team throughout this minicamp and offseason program. Many of those players who have been around the league for a while, or spent time with the Giants, understand the opportunity this team will have this season. For some, such as wide receiver Brandon Marshall, it could be their first shot at the playoffs and a championship run. For others, such as Eli Manning, it could be their last shot at one.
They don’t want something that happens in July to blow their chances of being special in January.
Pierre-Paul said he will be out of the country on the Fourth of July, just as he was last year, when he visited Sweden for the American holiday. No fireworks there, no reminders of the 2015 incident.
The final words they heard before departing Thursday came from McAdoo, who gave the team a three-minute speech following a light workout on the fields.
“We talked about being a pro,” McAdoo said. “We have a lot of integrity in the locker room, we talked about how we trust each other, but it’s about being a pro and how we handle our business mentally, physically and spiritually . . . I trust the players in the locker room, I trust this staff. We have to put ourselves in good situations.”
“I’m pretty sure they get the picture,” Pierre-Paul said.
If they don’t, Pierre-Paul needs to just hold up his right hand to show them.
The offseason already has had a few distractions. Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon skipped voluntary OTAs. Roger Lewis Jr. was arrested in Ohio for operating a vehicle while impaired. Even Manning created a few days of stir over the civil racketeering lawsuit filed against him and other Giants employees regarding the veracity of game-used memorabilia. That case is still scheduled to go to court Sept. 25.
But the three days of minicamp were mostly quiet. A few minor injuries. Near-perfect attendance. Some attention-grabbing cleats on Beckham, sure, but overall nice and calm and focused on football.
The Giants hope the next six weeks are just as placid and they can roll into the important part of their year without any speed bumps.
“We’ve got a lot of potential, but you’ve still got to prove yourself when you get on the field,” Vernon said. “I feel like this team is ready to prove themselves.”