Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora is proving to be quite a throwback to the old days. His brand of putting individual needs in front of the team is right in line with the best of anything that Jeremy Shockey, Tiki Barber and Plaxico Burress ever accomplished during their time with the Giants.
Long before Umenyiora walked out on the team during training camp last season, he was perenially disgruntled about how much he was being paid. He then openly pouted about being asked to play a complete role on the defense all season and, on Wednesday, promised that he'd retire if new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell didn't return him to the starting lineup immediately.
"This has been the worst offseason of my entire life. I can’t think of a time when things were this bad during the offseason. I am supposed to be relaxing, but I can’t because all I can think of is all the things that took place last season. For me, it’s not something that I am going to do. And if they ask me to do that, I will just stop playing football."
Funny, you'd think it would be much more relaxing to sit back and blame the team for everything instead of using the benching as an inspiration to redouble his efforts to become the player he was before injuring his knee in 2008.
Bill Sheridan may have been overmatched as the team's defensive coordinator, but the truth is that Umenyiora made his own bed. He was mostly invisible last season, offering no help against opposing rushing attacks and rarely flashing the pass rush skills that made him a star in the past. He wants to be treated like a starter, but didn't show that he was capable of playing like one. That's problematic.
His retirement threats, on the other hand, aren't the least bit problematic. Umenyiora's eternal struggle to get the Giants to give him more money should make it clear what really drives him on the football field, so the idea that he's just going to walk off to wander the Earth instead of cashing his $3.1 million paycheck for the season is as laughable as the effort Umenyiora turned in for most of the season. It's a good way to grab some headlines and a juicy story, but there's no fire behind this smoke.
A resurgent Umenyiora would obviously help the Giants next season, but you have to wonder if it's worth the risk of keeping him around. They turfed Shockey and Burress when they would still help the team in the past and survived well enough. It wouldn't be surprising to see them do the same with Umenyiora this offseason.