Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had an up-close seat to one of the Giants’ biggest fractures this season. He is a teammate, friend and confidant to both Landon Collins and Eli Apple. And he believes that the two of them can move forward together after their very public rift.
“Easily,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “The offseason is long. You can put all of that behind you. You can talk about it, get on the phone with each other. Whatever you have, get away from it. I just think it’s just this season, the atmosphere of being in this locker room, that’s it. This offseason, I definitely think they’ll jell back.”
That’s hard to imagine. Their relationship began to deteriorate in mid-December when Collins spoke about having conversations with Apple regarding his state of mind and his role on the team. Apple denied those conversations took place, which miffed Collins, who said in a radio interview that Apple needed to “grow up” and that teammates were “raising him” more than mentoring him. Then last week Collins called Apple a “cancer.”
Collins apologized for the last remark the following day. That same day, Apple refused to participate in practice as a member of the scout team, got into an altercation with an assistant coach, and was suspended by the Giants.
“I just feel like it’s like a little brother-big brother relationship,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “Sometimes you want to hit your little brother and say some things and he can get under your skin. But at the end of the day, I know it’s love, though, because I’ve been around those guys the whole season.”
Rodgers-Cromartie said he does not think that Apple is a cancer.
He also understands where Collins was coming from.
“I think that any time that you’re out and you get caught off guard, you say some things that you may not mean, it’s just caught up in the moment,” he said. “Any time a man can come back and apologize, whether it’s sincere or not, it still means a lot.”
Collins, a Pro Bowl safety for the past two seasons, will be back with the Giants in 2018. Apple might not be. Teams rarely give up on first-round picks after just two seasons, but Apple may have worn out his welcome with the organization.
Rodgers-Cromartie said he thinks Apple can straighten himself out.
“You’ve got a whole offseason to think about it and reflect,” he said. “I think he was a guy that’s young and didn’t know how to deal with a lot of stuff. But I think he has a tremendous upside and I think they should definitely give him another look.”