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Kennedy trying to shed 'bust' label

Jimmy Kennedy really needs to see an employment counselor to work on his interviewing skills. Then again, he got the job.

When he was being interviewed by the Giants, the team asked him a pretty standard question: What games can we watch from last year that you were happy with.

“I said ‘nothing,’” the defensive tackle said today, his first with the full team since signing on Tuesday. “Last season, not impressed. I don’t think I did anything to justify my contract. I understand why Minnesota let me go. I was fine with that. … I was terrible last year.”

And yet, here he is, adding depth to the defensive line for the Giants. Kennedy does have a bit of an excuse for his lackluster performance in 2010. He had knee surgery in the preseason, an arthroscopic procedure to relieve some tendonitis, and it wound up hampering him all year. “I thought it was going to be a two week thing turned out to be two months,” he said. Now he’s healthy, though, and ready to resume his NFL career.

That presents another problem, though. Kennedy is widely considered to be a bust. He was a first-round pick of the Rams in 2003 and played nose tackle for them. But he never blossomed into a play-maker.

“It didn’t help because my counterpart who was Kevin Williams went to Minnesota and he was doing it on the field,” Kennedy said of the player he is most compared to from his draft class. “But it’s a different style of defense … I think I had some solid seasons when I was with St. Louis. My expectation was always higher. I came in out of college as a run-stopper, so when I was in St. Louis, to finish with a 60-tackle season, I thought I had a great season in the NFL. But my role was different in the NFL. I had to get sacks and so on. It took a while in St. Louis to define who I was.”

(By the way ... 60 tackles? In his four years with the Rams he had 1, 13, 23 and 30 tackles.)

So he was the victim of a system?

“It’s not necessarily that I didn’t fit the system,” he said. “In four years I had three head coaches. So what system? Three D coordinators. What system? What are we talking about? But instantly I have to carry the ‘bust’ label throughout my career and I just think that’s unfair.”

Kennedy played the last two years for the Vikings, where he was a teammate of Kevin and Pat Williams. And in 2009 he played pretty well with three sacks as a backup. He’ll probably be a backup here, too, assuming he makes the 53-man roster.

“I’m a realist,” he said. “Sh--, my career didn’t go the way I wanted it to go. I just played with a guy like Kevin Williams and Pat Williams and I know that I can carry a torch just like them. I practiced with those guys every day and talent wise, they have the accolades and everything else but hell … It’s just like what Eli said the other day. Why should I look down on myself and think I’m less than (someone else)? You ask me who the best defensive tackle is in the NFL and I’ll tell you ‘Jimmy Kennedy.’ So whether you all believe it or I believe it in my head, that’s all it takes. It’s like the movie “Shallow Hal.” If I believe the chick is hot, she’s hot for me and it is what it is. So if I believe I’m the best defensive tackle I’m going to work my --- off until I prove it.

“I’m from Yonkers,” he added. “You know I’m a fighter.”


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