Just a few short months ago, Steve Spagnuolo and Jon Beason were strangers. They had admired each other from afar, but had never met much less worked together on the same team.
"I love Jon Beason," Spagnuolo, the new defensive coordinator for the Giants, said on Monday.
The two have been spending a lot of time together. Beason is Spagnuolo's middle linebacker, his voice on the field, and it's important the two foster a close bond. Before just about every training camp practice Spagnuolo and Beason spend one-on-one time together. Sometimes it's working on a drill or a technique. Sometimes it's just talking. But they seem to have found kindred spirits in each other.
"He's a guy who loves ball all the time, he's nonstop," Beason said. "We get a chance to hang out during the special teams period [early in practice] where I'm a little less involved than I would be, so we get a little one-on-one time Getting me over there it's, 'Let's take advantage of this five, 10 minutes that we have. Get you over here and let's talk about knock back and the way that I see you tackling as opposed to the way I see you tackling right now.'"
Beason is a nine-year veteran, but this is his first year in Spagnuolo's system, so he's learning like a rookie. But he's also learning like Beason.
"In a walk-thru he was moving the trash cans [that stand in as offensive linemen during drills] and I said 'You want to get those right,'" Spagnuolo said. "He said 'Yeah, I'm like that. I want to be perfect. It's a blessing and a curse.'"
Spagnuolo also showed Beason's energy in what he called a "sluggish" practice on Sunday as an example of what he wants to see from the other players on defense.
Football may be a game of Xs and Os, of strategies and physicality, but it also is a game of relationships. Spagnuolo learned that when he was in sync with Antonio Pierce during his previous tenure with the Giants. There may be none more important to the success of this year's Giants than the one between Spagnuolo and Beason.
So far, it's blossoming.
"He's a football player," Spagnuolo said. "He loves the game and when you are passionate about football you want to do the right thing. I love working with him."