The season doesn’t start until September, but Dave Gettleman already is celebrating the biggest win of the year.
That, of course, would be the news he heard this week that the aggressive lymphoma he was diag nosed with in June is in remission. The Giants’ general manager has gone through four rounds of intense chemotherapy in his treatment and still has three remaining (each administered during a five-day hospital stay), but he said his spirits and his health are in a great place.
“I feel pretty good,” Gettleman said Friday in his first public appearance since the diagnosis. “Sometimes I feel like I’m apologizing for that. But my energy is good. Chemo isn’t fun and there have been a couple of days where, whew, it rocks your world . . . But I’m blessed.
“I’m in a hell of a place. I feel great.”
Gettleman, 67, in his first year as GM of the Giants, said the good news came with almost as much of a shock as the bad news did in June.
“I didn’t quite understand it,” he said. “I think I’m pretty smart, and when he told me ‘you’re in complete remission,’ it was kind of weird. He very quickly followed up: ‘You ain’t done.’ But all of a sudden within a five-week period, I’m told I have an aggressive lymphoma and then five weeks later he says everything is going to be OK. That’s a quick turnaround.”
Gettleman has lost his hair but not his wit. He addressed the players earlier this week when they reported for the start of training camp and gave them a speech about opportunities in the NFL and about how important it is to be a team and not a group of individuals. As for his own situation, he covered it by telling the players: “Guys, I’m sorry, but you’re stuck with me.”
There have been some concessions. He was not allowed to shake hands with or hug the players because his immune system is compromised by the treatments. For a touchy-feely guy like Gettleman, that’s a tough one. He can’t be at work all the time and he can’t watch practices up close at training camp. He has to eat his lunch in his office rather than in the cafeteria with the boys. Assistant GM Kevin Abrams has handled an increased workload.
“It’s been weird,” Gettleman said of the limitations, but he’s adhering to them. There will be no negotiations with the doctors’ orders, he said.
As for other negotiations — for instance the upcoming one for Odell Beckham Jr.’s contract — Gettleman said he’s ready to handle it.
“[If] I’m well enough to stand in front of you, I’m well enough to do that,” he said, noting that he plans to return to work full-time at some point this year. “It’ll happen.”
The Giants will welcome that.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been around a more upbeat person in my life, particularly going through what he’s going through,” Giants co-owner John Mara said this week. “He’s very optimistic about his recovery and about his ability to work this year, and you know, we’re very excited about that. It’s the best news we’ve had in a long time.”
Cancer survivors often talk about a renewed appreciation for life. For Gettleman, it’s been more of an affirmation.
“I think I’ve been going to this place for the last seven years of my life,” he said of the mellowing and reprioritizing that has changed his mental outlook since he was last with the Giants’ front office. “I firmly believe it’s faith, family and football. If anything, it’s confirmed where I’ve been getting to the last seven years.
“Life is precious.”