Don't Mistake Osi Umenyiora's Smile for Happiness

Defensive end tries to let his smile be his umbrella

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    When Tom Coughlin spoke to reporters about Osi Umenyiora, he said the defensive end showed up for offseason workouts with a smile on his face and the coach opined that Umenyiora was "in a good place." Umenyiora's own meeting with the media left a different impression.

    Umenyiora refused to directly answer any questions about whether or not he's happy with his role on the Giants, his relationship with Coughlin or, really, anything that stemmed from his infamous promise to retire if he isn't handed a starting spot on a silver platter. Instead, he offered a cryptic, rambling statement that said he could either give mundane answers, say how he really feels or refuse to comment. He chose number three because saying how he really feels would be "foolish."

    That's not really the picture Coughlin painted when he said that Umenyiora was in a good place and it certainly doesn't do much to make it seem like Umenyiora wants to be on the Giants for the long term. He did say that he didn't want to be a distraction to the team, but it's hard to see how that can possibly be avoided.

    This is the same player who walked out on the team during camp last year, ostensibly because he didn't get along with then-defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, and the same guy who pouted most of last season. Again, issues with coaches and scheme were blamed but there's always been a contract issue in the background. It remains unresolved and now that Umenyiora's all but admitted his feelings are still hurt by last year's benching and that he isn't on the same page with the team.

    What does that mean? The next month will be interesting as the Giants move toward the draft because there will be several defensive end prospects on the board when the Giants make their first round pick. Umenyiora's trade value is hard to figure as he's coming off a bad season, has health issues and isn't exactly selling himself as a good soldier, but the same was true when the Giants landed a second-round pick for Jeremy Shockey.

    That's not a bad parallel for the Umenyiora situation, in fact. Kevin Boss gave the Giants a good alternative to riding the Shockey carousel and Mathias Kiwanuka gives them the same thing this time around. You could even argue that Kiwi is a better all-around player than Umenyiora at this point in time and that adding a rookie to the rotation would make for a more harmonious situation for the Giants.

    We'll see, but we'll also note that Umenyiora might not be the most believable narrator of his own thoughts and history. He was asked about his big retirement threat.

    "I say a lot of things," Umenyiora said. "I remember a couple of years ago I told my ex-girlfriend I was a virgin while holding my son. So I don't know."

    Keeping quiet is probably for the best, then, but it is going to take a bit more to solve the simmering issues on the table.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.