I got a real kick out of the opening chit-chat between Mike Francesa and Osi Umenyiora during their interview together on WFAN a little earlier today. After introducing Osi, Francesa asked a simple enough, casual question.
Mike: “How are you doing?”
Osi: “I can’t complain.”
Really? If that were true, of course, there would have been nothing to talk about. Instead, Osi had plenty to say – as he has all day to just about everyone from WFAN to ESPN to NFL Network – about his current situation with the Giants.
After hitting Radio Row, he might actually be going door-to-door in South Florida to take his case to the people!
What was different about this interview with Francesa was that it came after Umenyiora told Mike Garafolo of the Star-Legder who is down in the Miami area that he wants the Giants to tell him where he stands before the offseason conditioning program begins next month.
“Whichever way they go, I completely understand,” Umenyiora said. “They’ve given me a great opportunity and I will love them for it no matter what.”
Whichever way they go, of course, means that they will either tell him he’s their starting defensive end or they will cut him or trade him. Umenyiora has made it clear he will not “completely understand” if the Giants cannot guarantee him his starting job back. Yesterday he threatened to walk away from football if that happened.
He doesn’t know which decision the Giants will make. “I just know what I have to do for my career because they’ve shown that they’re obviously going to do what’s in their best interest, so I have to do whatever I feel is in my best interest getting up there in age, you know?” he said.
So what is Umenyiora looking for?
“Just basically what their intentions are,” he said. “No disrespect towards the team. I love that team and I love the organization. I’ve spent the last quarter of my life there. But I need to know what the future holds.”
Umenyiora did say he felt “singled out” with his demotion.
“There’s no question,” he said. “The team did what they felt was in their best interest and I completely understand. They are my employer and I am their employee and they felt like they needed to make that move. But did I agree with it? Absolutely not. Who on defense played well for the entire season? Nobody. For that to happen to me was a little disheartening, a little disconcerting.”
And later in the interview …
“Who led the team in sacks for the 5th time in a row?” he asked. “Obviously I feel I might have been singled out, but maybe they feel differently and I completely understand that. But are you going to point at the guy who led the team in sacks again and say this was the one problem on the defense? Really, come on. I understand completely what their perspective is, they’re in the business of winning games and they’re trying to do whatever they can to win, and they felt like that was an avenue they had to take. But did I agree with that? Absolutely not.”
Umenyiora told Garafolo that if the Giants aren’t prepared to have him as a starter, there are other teams that are. He clarified those remarks to Francesa.
“The film is out there,” he said. “No matter what people say, no matter whatever is going on, there’s a film that everybody gets to watch and everybody gets to see. I know what was going on out there on the field, I see the amount of respect I garner on the football field. I see teams sliding the line, I see them sending double teams, doing all those things that they’ve always done to negate my abilities. If they’re still doing that when I’m on the football field, then obviously there are teams out there that respect me enough to feel like I can still make an impact on the game.”
Umenyiora didn’t rule out asking the Giants for a trade if he doesn’t get the answer he wants. And he said he’s not going to speak with new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell until his status is resolved.
“I think we have to have a conversation in general before I can get to speak to Mr. Perry Fewell,” he said. “Me and my agent have to sit down and discuss what my future is going to be, what they feel like my role is going to be, because decisions like that aren’t going to be made by the defensive coordinator. The head coach, he runs that team and he makes the final decision, so he’s going to have to make decisions like that.”
“I feel like being that I’ve been there for seven years and all the things that I’ve gone through, all of the playoff appearances and the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowls, the All-Pros, I feel like I’ve built up enough good will that they can let me know or we can at least have a discussion as to what exactly my future will be before it even gets to that point in time,” he said.
If the Giants tell him that yes, he is going to be a starter, would he be happy?
“I would hope so,” he said. “I would think so. New York is my heart. I love New York, I love that team, I love the fans. I’d much rather be there than anywhere on planet earth. I have to do what’s best for me right now. I’m getting up there, this is going to be my eighth year, so I don’t have that much time left. I have a very short window of opportunity here to do the things that I know I’m capable of doing, and I need to be on the field to do that.”
And if they don’t?
“If it comes to that then it’s been a great run and I appreciate the team and the organization for everything.”