Leonard Williams said he understood the fans’ frustration with the Giants, who on Sunday lost to the Rams, 38-11, at MetLife Stadium and fell to 1-5.
But he was not a fan of how they reacted, booing the team as they left the field at halftime trailing 28-3. He gestured at the crowd with his arms, seemingly attempting to shush them, or at least to express his displeasure.
Asked about the incident, Williams said of the boos, "It did bother me, honestly. Obviously, we’re in our own home stadium. I don’t want to be hearing boos from our own fans.
"I understand that they have a right to be upset as well because they’re coming to see us put good football on the field and we haven’t been winning up to date. But at the same time, I don’t know. I don’t like that."
Players publicly taking on fans is a decades-old no-no, so Williams’ comments led to several follow-up questions from reporters.
Didn’t he think the Giants deserved that reaction?
"I don’t think anyone deserves to be put down, no matter who you are," Williams said. "I’m not going to go to a salesman and tell him that he’s not a good person or boo this person because he’s not doing his job."
When it was suggested to him that that analogy was faulty and he was asked if he could see why fans would be angry, he said, "I just said I understood why fans would be upset, yeah."
And yet he does not believe they should boo? "It doesn’t matter what I think," he said. "I go out there to play football. I don’t sit in the stands, so I can’t see it from that perspective."
Williams, 27, signed a three-year, $63 million contract after last season, $45 million of which is guaranteed. He had 1½ sacks on Sunday, which doubled his season total. He had 11½ sacks last season.
In seven seasons with the Jets and Giants, he’s been part of one winning season, when he was a rookie in 2015, the year the Jets drafted him sixth overall.
"As a competitor, it’s really upsetting that I’m in my year seven, I’ve been having a lot of losing seasons," he said. "I haven’t been to the playoffs yet in my career, and that’s pretty tough.
"A long career in this league is 10 to 12, 13 years. I’m already close to half of that, at least, and I want to obviously start seeing the tables turn and start winning. But I’m obviously not pointing fingers and blaming anyone. I look at myself first in the mirror [and ask] how much more can I do."