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Hey, Stray - Just Stay Away

LongIsland.com

Giant DE's Retirement Contemplation is Getting Old The New York football Giants may be losing a veteran leader on the defensive side of the ball only a few months after having their offensive leader retire. ...

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Giant DE's Retirement Contemplation is Getting Old

The New York football Giants may be losing a veteran leader on the
defensive side of the ball only a few months after having their
offensive leader retire. Tiki Barber, the talented running back who
became a major distraction last season, hung up his helmet and pads for
an NBC microphone. Michael Strahan, the 35 year-old defensive end, is
still a hold out and has been since deciding to stay at home in
California on the eve of training camp over a month ago. How will the
G-Men survive?

Just fine, thank you. For all he brought to the field, Barber slung
enough mud in the media about head coach Tom Coughlin and the play
calling to last a lifetime. Even though they are not saying it
publicly, the men in that clubhouse know they are in for a more quiet
season without having to hear Barber's barbs.

Just when you though it was safe to go to the playing field, Strahan
took it upon himself to start his own controversy. If you make a
decision on leaving the game, no one will fault you for that. Barber
made that decision and as much as it pains to give him any credit, he
did leave the front office ample time to find his replacement. In
Strahan's case, the coaching staff had already decided to move
second-year player Mathias Kiwanuka from end to linebacker. If they
were aware of the possibility of Strahan not returning, this may have
been a move that they would not have made. A year ago, Strahan missed
six games with an injured foot and had only 38 tackles and three sacks.

Back on July 26, Coughlin said that he expected Strahan to report to
camp on time and further commented, "I think he can perform at a very
high level. Michael has such great pride. He was not pleased at all
with being unable to perform last year and I think that because of that
he is really looking forward to this year."

A day later, Coughlin addressed the media and was not happy about
Strahan's absence. "Obviously, I'm disappointed that he is not here. He
is a very important part of our team," he said. Coughlin further
elaborated if this would become a distraction. "I hope not. We have had
enough of those," referring to Barber without actually naming him.

Giants' general manager Jerry Reese stated that the organization had no
idea that Strahan would not report until his agent, Tony Agnone, called
him the night before. "Last night (July 26) I talked to his agent, and
he said to me that he [Strahan] was contemplating retirement."

This has dragged out since then and everyday there seems to be another
hint that Strahan will finally make his 'triumphant' return. The
troubling thing with this situation is that the player called 'Stray'
seems to be dictating the terms of his return. He reportedly stated
that he does not want to feel pressured by the team on when to come
back and if they placed a timetable on his return. He was also said to
be upset that word leaked that he and Reese had spoken.

As it is, his daily fines have grown close to $500,000 and there are
whispers that the team may either waive or reduce the amount, not to
'embarrass' their star player. What does this say to a young player on
the Giants that decides he would like to sit in his backyard while his
teammates are going through two-a-days in the summer heat? This is not
what someone who looks at himself as a leader would present to his
teammates.

Even if Strahan decides to saunter back now, when he is in game shape
remains to be seen. All the workouts in the world with a personal
trainer 2,000 miles away cannot make up for contact drills in pads in
Albany. The season opener is less than two weeks away and the team has
a new defensive coordinator in Steve Spagnuolo. New schemes and stunts
are something that needs to be practiced time and time again. There is
no way, even if he is totally healthy, that Strahan can expect to just
walk in and be ready.

Justin Tuck has stepped into Starhan's left end spot and performed
quite well during the preseason. The longer this plays out, wouldn't it
be poetic justice if the Giants made the decision for Strahan and told
him to enjoy retirement?