The only thing that came off worse than Janoris Jenkins’ use of a derogatory term in a tweet sent out during the Giants’ practice on Wednesday was his quasi-apology on Thursday.
After being called out by coach Pat Shurmur for the timing and content of his interaction with another user on Twitter, the cornerback stood in front of his locker on Thursday and said such terms are “slang” that he uses regularly where he comes from.
“It’s a culture that I grew up in, where I’m from,” he said. “We use all kind of words for all kinds of slang. It’s a hood thing. I didn’t call nobody no name or pick at nobody, it’s just something we use in the hood back at home.”
Jenkins said he was sorry and posted a short online apology, but he did not seem to grasp the implications of what he had done and why it was offensive.
“I really didn’t see nothing so bad with it until people like y’all started picking it up and making stories, so I just decided to apologize,” he told reporters.
He added: “I regret it, but at the end of the day, like I said, it’s my slang, so if you take it how you’re going to take it, then that’s on you. I don’t mean to offend nobody. My dad always told me speak freely and own up to what you say. I always speak freely as a man. I speak the way I want to speak.”
It’s clearly not the way the Giants want him to speak.
Jenkins’ tweeting drew yet another stern talking-to from Shurmur. While the coach would not discuss any discipline publicly, it’s fair to assume that the breach of team rules and organizational tone did not go unpunished.
“I talked to him and explained to him that what he said was very inappropriate and offensive,” Shurmur said on Thursday morning. “It’s my understanding that after we spoke, he issued an apology . . . He’s well aware of my feelings and he’s well aware of how we feel with his choice of words and what he did.”
Jenkins did not practice on Thursday but was on the field rehabbing during the team’s workout. His availability for Sunday’s game remains in doubt, but only because of the injury. The Giants are not expected to suspend him.
The issue that launched this fiasco was Jenkins’ posting of his stats as an attempt to illustrate that he is having a good season even if the team is not. A user questioned his value to the team and Jenkins called him the term.
“I posted what I posted on my stats to let people know what’s going on,” Jenkins said. “Sometimes you have to let everybody know what’s really going on. If we were winning, they’d be talking about it. So if we lose, I mean, it’s a bad thing, but at the end of the day, you still have to let people know that you are doing your job. That’s how I look at it.”
Shurmur said that Jenkins, who was not practicing because of an ankle injury, was finishing his treatment while the team was on the practice field and went to check his phone at his locker. There, he said, Jenkins began interacting with people who had been calling him out on Twitter.
Jenkins told it slightly differently. He said there was no cell service in the training room, so the tweets wound up being sent when he came into the locker room to charge his phone and picked up a better signal. He said he had typed the tweets earlier than when the team was practicing but that they wound up being posted with the team on the field. “In my mind, it doesn’t really matter when,” Shurmur said. “But in this case, we were on the practice field and he took a break from his rehab and went back to his phone and it just happened to be during practice. It makes it worse in my mind, but it shouldn’t happen at any time.”
The Giants had relied on Jenkins to be a leader for their very young secondary. He’s repaid that responsibility by calling out the team’s pass rush in Week 2 and complaining about the defensive schemes in Week 13. Both instances necessitated conversations with Shurmur.
Jenkins was suspended for a game in 2017 by then-coach Ben McAdoo when he did not show up for a practice as the team returned to work after the bye.
This likely will hasten Jenkins’ departure from the team. He is due to earn $10.15 million from the Giants in 2020, but the Giants would be on the salary-cap hook for only $3.5 million if they cut him this offseason.
Shurmur said he is not a fan of social media.
“I don’t see the value in any of it, quite frankly,” he said. “I’m worried more about what the people in the building think of me than someone I’ve never met. That’s my view of it. But I know it’s part of the world that we live in, especially the young people in the world. It’s like anything. In my opinion, he shouldn’t be involved in that.”
My dad always told me speak freely and own up to what you say. I always speak freely as a man. I speak the way I want to speak.”