Osi Umenyiora spoke with reporters for close to 20 minutes on a conference call Wednesday, recalling his time with the Giants and describing his current situation with the Falcons. But his most telling words were the ones he was wise enough to keep to himself.
When asked if he wished he were still a Giant, Umenyiora said: "That's a question I can't really answer."
"I think I did what was best for me and the Giants did what was best for them," he added. "That's pretty much the only way I can answer that. Do I wish I was still there? Who knows what would have happened if I was still there? Nobody knows, so I can't look back at that with regret and I'm sure they don't look back at it with regret either."
And when Umenyiora spoke about fellow former Giant Justin Tuck, now with the Raiders, it was hard not to project potential parallels he was drawing to his own decisions.
"A player has to do what's best for his family, but sometimes that puts you in a bad situation," Umenyiora said. "That's exactly what's happened to him. It's unfortunate, I wish he could have stayed in New York, but it didn't work out for him that way."
It's been almost two years since Umenyiora, 32, left the Giants as a free agent following the 2012 season. Neither the Giants nor his new team in Atlanta found success last year and both are 2-2 this season, so it's impossible to declare either side a "winner" in the exchange.
Umenyiora had 75 sacks for the Giants and helped the team win two Super Bowls. But he also was a lightning rod when it came to contract squabbles and disagreements over playing time. He walked out on the team in 2010 after a spat with then-defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan.
"I dislike some of the things that I did, but I was young, and as you get older you see some of those things," Umenyiora said. "You're like, 'Man, why did I do that? That makes no sense.' But I have absolutely zero regrets. I left New York in a great relationship with everybody, from the owners, to the GM, to the coaches, to the players. I still have a really good relationship with everybody there."
Umenyiora made it clear that he is not looking for revenge against the Giants on Sunday. He's a part-time player now, a third-down pass-rusher who doesn't have a sack this season. Falcons coach Mike Smith said his team's inability to stop the run and get into pass-rushing situations has limited Umenyiora's "at bats." But he's still capable of making a big play. "[He looks] like Osi," Tom Coughlin said. "Very, very close on a lot of backdoor plays, which he's very, very good at. Quick. Very fast."
He'll be in the visiting locker room on Sunday. Perhaps one day he will return to MetLife Stadium on better terms to be recognized for his achievements with the organization. A potential Ring of Honor inductee, maybe?
"I definitely accomplished a lot of things while I was there, there's no question about that," Umenyiora said.
"I'm quite sure they recognize that, but whether they want to bring me back when I retire and do something, that's going to be totally up to them."
From the unspoken sound of it, Umenyiora would relish such a return.