Dave Gettleman wasn’t only meeting with Steve Spagnuolo as the first candidate to interview for the Giants’ head coach vacancy on Wednesday. He also had his first sit-down with cornerback Eli Apple, who was suspended for the final game of the season a day before Gettleman was hired as new Giants general manager.
Apple, who had been called a “cancer” by teammate Landon Collins, refused to participate with the scout team in practice and had an argument with an assistant coach. That led to his being suspended for “a pattern of behavior that is conduct detrimental to the team.” There had been other instances that led to his not playing in five of the last six games for which he was eligible.
“One thing I learned is culture is critical,” Gettleman said on Wednesday on SiriusXM NFL Radio, discussing his pending meeting with Apple. “Bottom line, you have to develop a culture where people are accountable, people respect each other and earn the right to win. Meaning they leave it all on the field.”
Apple’s effort in several games was also called into question, most notably in a team meeting headed by Ben McAdoo after the loss to the 49ers on Nov. 12.
The suspension will make it more financially palatable for the Giants to move on from Apple if they decide to take that path. The discipline voids the guaranteed base salary in the contract for the next two years.
While most assume Apple, the Giants’ first-round pick in 2016, won’t be back with the team in 2018, one current teammate believes that the Giants should allow him to return.
“You’ve got a whole offseason to think about it and reflect,” veteran cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said on Monday. “I think he was a guy that’s young and didn’t know how to deal with a lot of stuff. But I think he has a tremendous upside and I think they should definitely give him another look.”