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When asked about the Osi Umenyiora situation on Wednesday, Tom Coughlin said that it has been going on so long that it should be split into chapters.
If that were the case, reviewers would certainly point out that Chapter 29, a.k.a. "Osi Rides a Bike", would be the moment when the imbroglio tipped from garden-variety contract squabble into a realm of absurdity rarely associated with the meat-and-potatoes world of the NFL. Things are just getting weirder between the player and the team as both sides try to play both sides of the road in a dance that would be tiresome if it weren't so bizarre.
The first development of the day was the news that the Giants told Umenyiora and his agent to stop contacting other teams about a trade. The idea behind that was either to force Umenyiora to start accepting that he's a member of the Giants or to humiliate him by publicly airing the fact that he's not worth nearly as much as he imagines.
Umenyiora was upset by that development and told the Giants that he wouldn't participate in practice. The Giants, quite reasonably, told Umenyiora to go home, clear his head and return back to practice on Thursday.
Umenyiora, who doesn't seem to be worried about being seen as a hypocrite after castigating hypocrisy in how he's dealt with, refused to do that and showed up at practice on Wednesday night. He didn't actually practice, however, and spent the session riding a stationary bike on the sideline.
Strangely, Coughlin chose to take this as a positive step in the fractured relationship between player and team. It's as if Joseph Heller took up writing NFL coachspeak.
"I was pleased," Coughlin said. "It's a good thing. I'm hoping that's the kind of indication that we're all looking for."
How is it a good thing that a player refuses to practice but shows up simply to bolster his case against any team attempt to fine or punish him for breaching his contract? There has been no movement by Umenyiora off his stance that he'll never play for the Giants again unless they redo his contract and no indication from the Giants that they are willing to give him more money which makes Osi's bike ride as much an indication of a new development as the fact that a mother in Des Moines overcooked her son's dinner.
It shouldn't be surprising that things are moving in this direction since no one was dealing from a place of honsty from the get-go. Umenyiora's central complaint -- he's underpaid -- is flawed by the fact that he's had two good years in the last five, which makes it hard to really accept that he's been mistreated from a contractural standpoint.
The Giants, on the other hand, look vindictive and petty by making a big deal of allowing Umenyiora to shop himself for a trade that they knew they would never wind up making. They have all the leverage in this situation, but are wielding it clumsily in an attempt to look magnanimous when they are really quite pleased with themselves for making Umenyiora squirm instead of actually coming up with a solution.
There have been suggestions that the Giants give Umenyiora the money, something that will be very hard for them to do at this point in time. Their cap situation was bad enough to necessitate cuts and restructured contracts while giving in to Umenyiora now would mean that every other player with a desire for more cash will do the exact same thing in the future.
Meanwhile, things are happening (or not happening) as the Giants continue to do this dance with no end. Kevin Boss looks like he's about to become a Raider, Steve Smith and first-round pick Prince Amukamara are both unsigned and the team still hasn't addressed their needs at linebacker.
Everyone needs to move on and, at this point, a trade is the best way to make that happen. Umenyiora gets what he wants, the Giants can start focusing on football and we'll all be spared the chapter of the story where Umenyiora submits to an interview with an imaginary rabbit named Harvey about all the indignities heaped upon him by the evil Giants.