No one on the Giants has been on a playoff team as often as Leon Hall. In nine seasons with the Bengals he went to the postseason six times.
But when it comes to being successful in the playoffs, Hall’s resume is blank.
“I’ve been there plenty,” he said. “I’ve won zero. I’m looking for that to change.”
That’s one of the reasons he was excited about signing with the Giants this summer, he said. They are the franchise that players around the league point to when it comes to giving yourself a shot just by getting into the postseason field. In 2007, they won a championship as a wild card and in 2011, they won as a division champion with just nine regular-season victories.
“That’s all you really want is a chance,” Hall said. “You’d love to be a No. 1 seed or a 2-seed, but as long as you get in the dance, the Giants have proved that if you just get in there you can go to the Super Bowl and win it.”
It’s a reputation in which the current Giants players who were not part of those runs are well versed. Linebacker Jonathan Casillas said it’s part of the NFL fabric.
“I feel like since I’ve been little they always say: ‘Once you get Eli to the playoffs you can roll them off, he’ll be the Manning that everybody thinks he is,’” he said. “That’s our goal now. Our goal is to get to the playoffs.”
There are only 16 current Giants who have ever done that in their careers.
“I think a lot of times when you’re a rookie, sometimes it’s hard for you to realize how hard it is to get in there,” Hall said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be in it a few times. But those years I didn’t get in, it felt terrible.”
The Giants know all about that, having missed the postseason the past four years. They can clinch a playoff berth Thursday night with either a win or a tie against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“It’s a lot harder than you think, whether it’s somebody from the outside or somebody just coming into the league,” Hall said. “A lot of people think just because you have a good team you get in. Like in basketball. I could probably pencil in who’ll be in the playoffs right now.”
Football, though, is different. Which is why Hall will take some time to appreciate making the postseason if and when the Giants do clinch a playoff game.
And then he’ll get to work on trying to win one.