Landon Collins’ annual celebrity softball game usually raises money for great causes and gives fans a chance to get some up-close interactions with past and present players in a casual setting. This year’s game, scheduled for June 8 at Palisades Credit Union Park in Pomona, N.Y., will add an extra element to it.
Collins, the former Giants safety who signed a massive six-year, $84 million contract with the Redskins in free agency, said he is using the event -- the last one that will carry his name on it -- to bid farewell to so many folks he never got a chance to when he switched teams in the offseason.
“Rather than say goodbye that way by just signing a new contract with a new team, I wanted to do it the right way, formally, in person, at one of the best events out there,” he told Newsday via phone. “Definitely get some closure.”
The event will be structured differently from the past two. First of all, instead of pitting current Giants against former Giants, which could get awkward given the circumstances, the teams will be divided based on offense and defense. Super Bowl-winning running back Brandon Jacobs will captain the offense, Collins the defense.
And besides the dodgeball and home run derby that has always taken place, this year there will also be a kickball game.
Collins will also hand over the event to a current Giants player at this year’s game, allowing it to live on in good hands. This may be the last Landon Collins Softball Game in the New York area, but the framework will continue. And, Collins said he’d be interested in starting a similar event in the Washington area for Redskins players.
This year’s event will benefit St. Christopher’s, which helps woman and children in need. Tickets begin at $30 with VIP seating available for $150 to $1,050 (the highest tier including field access). More information and all ticket purchases are available at www.landoncollinsgame.com.
As for the players in attendance, Collins joked that he’s bringing some of his boys with him from the Redskins. One good bet to be part of that group is Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, also a former Giant, who came out of retirement to sign with Washington.
Any current Browns expected?
Collins laughed. “You never know.”
It’s not all jokes. Collins said he was deeply wounded when the Giants did not use the franchise tag on him in March and never even made him an offer as a free agent to keep him. He signed with the Redskins at the start of free agency, a period of time he said was a blur.
“I was hurt,” he said. “When I realized I wasn’t going to be a Giant anymore I was definitely hurt. At the same time I didn’t know where I was going to be.”
The animosity has diluted. Eighty-four million dollars can help the healing process quite a bit. But it wasn’t until long after he signed with the Redskins that the reality of the situation set in for him.
“I think I really got over it once I stepped foot into the facility,” he said. “Not when I signed, more when I got there for the first day of the offseason program (in mid-April). I was like, ‘Dang, this is for real.’”
Collins declined to comment on the Giants’ tumultuous offseason, which included not only his departure but the trade that sent Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon to the Browns. Even in the draft, the Giants and Collins’ current team had a bit of a showdown as both selected a quarterback in the first round. The Giants took Daniel Jones sixth overall, the Redskins Dwayne Haskins at 15. Giants general manager Dave Gettleman said there were two teams who would have taken Jones before the Giants’ 17th pick, and although he did not name any of the teams Redskins president Bruce Allen said that Gettleman “has no clue what our draft board would be.”
The two NFC East rivals who now share may intertwined storylines will meet in Week 4 of this season.
Of course, before that, the Giants will get a shot to take out some aggression on at least one of the Redskins’ big additions. Collins said he expects to be a “heavy target” in the dodgeball game.
“I may have a bullseye on my shirt,” he said.
And by the end of the night, he may even have a tear in his eye as he waves goodbye to, as he put it, “everybody, the community, teammates, fans… Everybody who has been very close to me.”