3/23/11 Amani Discusses Moving Kickoffs to the 35-Yard Line:
I think people are missing the real point of this change in the kickoff rules. I don’t think this is going to impact player safety because people get concussions on touchbacks as well. If you’re on the coverage team or you’re on the return team, you don’t know that the ball will go into the end zone so you’re going to play just as hard. So, I don’t think this will change anything. I think the only thing that will slow players down is the five-yard rule. That’s a good start.
So, it reduces the chances for a kick returner to score and it ultimately will reduce the number of exciting scoring plays in a game throughout the league.
3/07/11 Interview with Amani:
Did you watch the combine?
I thought back to being a receiver at the combines myself and it was terrible because quarterbacks were throwing the ball as hard as possible while the receivers were concentrating on running their routes correctly. Catching the ball is secondary in your mind. Everyone can catch the ball; you wouldn’t be at the combines if you couldn’t. So you’re coming out of your breaks in a regular curl and the QBs are just heaving the ball as fast and hard as they can.
Do you think that the decision by Judge Doty last week will increase the ownership’s eagerness to get a new CBA in place?
Also, they don’t want to ruin the game. Look how long it took baseball to come back. What was it, about ten years?
Do you feel that the structure for health care for retired players needs to change?
1/28/11 Amani Discusses the Championship Games and Super Bowl:
Two teams, the Jets and Bears, did not come out to play early on and spotted Green Bay and the Steelers a bunch of points. When teams are virtually equal, you can’t spot them points. You have to match them point for point to keep the game on schedule, so to speak. To me both games (Steelers vs. Jets and Bears vs. Green Bay) were lost in the first quarter. The Bears and Jets didn’t come out strong enough and weren’t able to compete early.
1/05/10 Interview with Amani:
It’s difficult to sum up an entire season in a single interview, but would you try?
Amani: I can sum the Giants season up in one word: turnovers. Without the turnovers, they’d have the week off by now. I think the inconsistent running game and the problems on the offensive line need to be addressed. I think for next year the Giants need to get a young running back in because I don’t think they’ll resign Brandon (Jacobs) and they need to get younger or more depth on the offensive line. That may mean replacing the center or the guards.
Don’t you think the Giants may view Koets as their future center?
Amani: Honestly, I don’t know what the Giants think of him but, personally, I don’t think he did a good job when he was in. He wasn’t horrible but the line didn’t really do well until they moved Seubert to center.
Ahmad Bradshaw is a free agent with a fumbling issue. You don’t see the Giants letting him go and keeping Jacobs, even though Jacobs’ salary escalates significantly next season?
Amani: I would keep Bradshaw and lowball him because of the fumbling. I’d get a new guy and would see to it that Ware got more carries next year. I wouldn’t be upset with the combination of Danny Ware and Ahmad Bradshaw at running back next year. Bradshaw is shiftier than Ware but if they can get a guy who can be a jack-of-all-trades and get outside or run between the tackles, a premier back, that would be great. Otherwise, I’d go with Bradshaw and Ware.
What problems do you see on defense?
Amani: They have to address the linebacker issue. Otherwise, I think the defense did pretty well.
When Rolle was in the box, he played well but when he was deep in coverage as a free safety, he was seldom in the right place to make a play. How did you view that?
Amani: I think it’s funny that you bring that up because I think Rolle was playing injured. In the Philadelphia and Green Bay games, and even against Washington, the tight ends really hurt him. Rolle couldn’t physically make the play. Knowing what an athlete he is, that only tells me one thing and that is that he must have been playing with some type of injury. That’s giving him the benefit of the doubt, of course.
How about special teams?
Amani: They did improve toward the end of the year in all categories with the exception of the punter. Matt Dodge. Dodge isn’t the guy! They gave him a year tryout and he hasn’t been consistent. He cost them a game, cost the Giants field position and I think the Matt Dodge experiment should be over.
I don’t think Tom Quinn , the special teams coach, should go. I think the responsibility for keeping Dodge on the roster all year was Jerry Reese’s call. I think Quinn did a great job on specials this year. At the start of the season special teams were horrible until he made some adjustments. The only problem was the return game. You can’t blame Quinn when he tells Dodge to kick the ball out of bounds and he kicks it right down the middle. And the fact that the hands team wasn’t on the field for the onside kick was Coughlin’s call, not Quinn’s. Quinn can obviously make suggestions but the decision rests with Coughlin.
Are there any coaches on the team that you believe should be replaced?
Amani: No, because there’s no glaring weakness at any position. Plus, I don’t think the position coach has that much power so you’d really be talking about replacing the offensive or defensive coordinator. I believe in Gilbride and obviously I believe in Perry Fewell. Fewell did a great job so I wouldn’t say any coaches need to go. The Giants won ten games this year; that’s a good season.
12/28/10 Interview with Amani:
Will you be covering any of the bowl games this year and do you plan to continue working in broadcasting next year
Amani: I feel that it will be better for me to wait another year before doing game commentary. I did do it in a practice session once this year and, while I enjoyed it, I thought it would be better to get more experience overall. I expect to get some games again with the Big-Ten network next year and then, when the end of the season comes around next year, I’ll have had another year’s experience. Then, I will want to cover some bowl games.
You thought the Giants would lose against the Packers at Flambeau field. You weren’t alone in your belief but what was your thinking?
Amani: If you look at their schedule, you’ll see that the Giants win 3-4 games in a row and then lose a couple of games consecutively, so this Sunday I expect the Giants to get up against the Redskins. They believe they have their quarterback in Rex Grossman and I think the Redskins are excited about the offense.
Also, Manning threw 24 interceptions this season and that’s ridiculous. At some point you have to say to yourself that you aren’t going to try to do it all but will let everyone else on the team play. Don’t get me wrong, I think Eli is a great quarterback, a great quarterback, but those interceptions are unacceptable.
The Packers had an unbelievable scheme against the Giants and they just couldn’t get the running game going. The Giants just didn’t seem to be able to figure the Packers out. You have to have an effective run game. Also, since O’Hara has been back, the offensive line hasn’t played as well as when they had a patched up line and I’m still bothered by Jacobs not getting a lot more carries than Bradshaw. Bradshaw is fumbling too much; he’s leading the league in fumbles. And it makes it appear that Bradshaw is in some way special, and isn’t accountable. Star players who aren’t accountable can destroy the fabric of your team.
Do you feel that an interception should count against the quarterback when the receiver has the ball in his hands and doesn’t hold on
Amani: Yes, because there are situations where a quarterback throws a quick screen and the receiver takes it 40-50 yards breaking several tackles for a score. The quarterback gets credit for those when in reality he didn’t break all the tackles. So, I think it all evens out. But if you took out Bradshaw and Jacobs, with all their fumbles, and put in ordinary players, I think the Giants would already be in the playoffs. If you have a defense that takes the ball away more than 30 times, you should be in the playoffs.
How do you see Sunday’s game against the Redskins playing out?
Amani: I think the Giants are going to come out and play the way they should have against the Packers and I believe they’ll beat the Redskins easily. But I really have a bad feeling about the Bears being able to beat the Packers, with Aaron Rodgers playing so well.
I believe the Giants are going to right the ship: Giants 35, Redskins 14
Amani Toomer featuring an exclusive one-on-one interview with Bob Papa, game-action footage and commentary by Amani Toomer. (Giants Chronicles, MSG Sun. 12/12 10:00 – 10:30 a.m.
12/08/10 Interview with Amani:
What’s your overview of last week’s game?
Amani: I think they played a good game and I think they had a good plan. The only thing that worried me about the game was that Eli threw another interception in the red zone. I know I’m being very critical but it’s one of those things that can’t keep happening if you expect to be a top flight team for the playoffs.
You can’t look at the results so much because they were playing an inferior team so in this case you have to look at what the major problems are that could hurt them in the future.
That their special teams are playing so much better is a good sign but, even though there are a lot of reasons why Eli is throwing so many interceptions, I still believe he needs to throw some of those balls more on target.
Were you surprised that while Jacobs started Bradshaw got most of the carries last week?
Amani: The only thing I could think is that the coaches felt the game was already in hand and, because Jacobs is such a punishing runner, they were just trying to keep him healthy. To this point that’s worked very well. He’s healthier than he’s ever been; he’s running downhill again but with a guy like that, you have to monitor how many carries he gets. I don’t think he’s ever in his career played all 16 games.
Bradshaw has had some injuries also.
Amani: That’s why you need someone like Ware who can come in too. He can move a little bit and also has a little bit of power. You have to get Ware plugged in so that if you lose Jacobs or Bradshaw there isn’t a problem because he isn’t used to running with the first team.
How do you think the defense played last Sunday?
Amani: I think they played fairly well. The pass rush was there. The defense and special teams gave the offense good starting position throughout the game.
Does it concern you that the starting front four isn’t generating a lot of pressure on their own?
Amani: Not really. Most teams in the league have to send an extra guy to get home. It definitely puts your secondary at a little more risk but the Giants defensive backfield is playing well. Grant is a force and Rolle is the center fielder though Kenny Phillips hasn’t really shown up much this year. In his case though it takes a couple of years to come off such a bad injury.
Devin Thomas had a big impact on special teams last Sunday.
Amani: Oh, yeah. Those receivers that were just signed know that as the Giants receivers get healthy, some of them are going to have to go. And the way Devin Thomas is playing, he doesn’t want it to be him. He’s already been cut by two teams so he knows what it feels like. I think he’s playing well and I’m not sure Shanahan knows what he’s doing. Just because Shanahan was so successful in Denver doesn’t mean he’ll be successful in Washington. He has to get the Washington players to buy in and be team players.
Do you expect to see Brett Favre start Sunday to keep his streak alive?
Amani: Yes. Frazier is attempting to run the plays that Favre wants and I think that’s smart. But the AC joint in the throwing shoulder is a tough injury and I don’t know how effective he can be. But I remember playing Green Bay when Favre broke his hand and he went out there and played the first series to keep his streak alive. After that, he left the game and this week may be one of those situations.
What’s your prediction?
Amani: I think this will be another tough game. It‘s a tough place to play plus the Vikings are trying to pick themselves up off the mat. The Giants have already lost to one down-and-out team. I predict the Giants will win in a tight game - Giants 30, Vikings 27.
12/01/10 Interview with Amani:
What’s your take on last Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and why the two halves differed so much?
I think nearly everyone thought the Giants would be forced to change the starter at running back last Sunday.
This Sunday the Giants face Washington. Do you think this could be another trap game where the Giants sleepwalk through the game as they did against Dallas?
You’ve finished covering the Big-10 games but do you expect to resume when the bowl games begin?
11/24/10 Interview with Amani:
What’s your take on the Giants-Eagles game last Sunday night?
Amani: I feel like the Giants don’t have the same energy that they had when I saw them play the Chicago Bears. Ever since people started talking about how good they were, they haven’t had the same approach to the game. That being said, the Giants still had every opportunity to win that game. They actually had some plays on defense where I thought they did a great job holding Vick but the mistakes and turnovers are something they really need to address because that killed them.
Now that Jacobs is the starter, we’ll see how he does. Remember at the beginning of the year we talked about Jacobs still being fresh for the second half of the year with Bradshaw starting? Maybe this is a conspiracy theory but that’s the way I am in these situations. Maybe this change was intended all along to give the offense newfound energy for the second half of the season.
But with Jacobs being the starter, the offensive line is going to have to go to a more downhill style and I don’t know if the injuries will allow them to be as successful as they should be.
What do you remember about Michael Clayton, one of the Giants two new receiver signings?
Amani: Basically that he had a great rookie season and then fell back to earth.
Some of your fans have sent e-mails saying you should come back and bail the Giants out.
Amani: Yeah, I know. I don’t believe the Giants have any interest in that and neither do I. If they were to ask me though, I’d do it but only because it’s the Giants.
Looking ahead to the Jacksonville game, how do you see this one playing out?
Amani: The Turnover Bowl? I think the team that turns the ball over least will win the game and I think the Giants have a distinct advantage on the defensive line. The way that the defense exploits the advantage will be the key to the game because the defense is going to have to win this game. The offense is struggling because of all the injuries on offense.
The Giants can’t consider this an ordinary game; they have to focus on the minute details because right now they don’t have the high-powered offense to bail them out. So, that means the defense is going to have to step up and show how good they really are. And I believe the defense will step up.
I think the Giants are going to win 24 to 6.
Turning to the Illinois game you covered last week, did you find the field situation disconcerting?
Amani: No, I know what it is to be a player against extraordinary circumstances and it’s usually much ado about nothing. Once you get on the field, you don’t care what direction you’re going or where the sideline is. All you care about is the guy opposite you; that’s all you focus on.
11/16/10 Interview with Amani:
Granted that almost everything that could go wrong did go wrong, how do you account for what happened last Sunday against Dallas?
Amani: That was a “whupping” for sure; it was really bad.
Amani: I think you can chalk it up to “just one of those days.” From the players’ perspective they knew that they could have beaten Dallas the last time they played by even more points than they did and then the Cowboys got blown out again last week so, if you’re watching film of a team getting blown up and you know that they haven’t played well all season, you expect them to come out and do the same thing again. Even with the coaching change, that’s a team that doesn’t scare you and if a team doesn’t scare you it’s hard to get really excited about the game.
Amani: Yes, Vick just took over the game; he was so dominant. I don’t really think the Eagles are that good of a team. They opened my eyes the week before when they beat the Colts, though the Colts have a lot of injuries, but I’m not a believer yet.
Amani: And maybe that’s why. People realize that he will respond and say the proper things. They probably thought, ‘Ah Donovan’s a good guy; he’ll handle it the right way.’ If it were someone like Terrell Owens, they might have thought twice.
Amani: A week ago I would have said that the Giants defensive line could have neutralized a lot of what we saw Vick do last night but the last two weeks the defensive line hasn’t gotten much pressure or come up with the big sack like they did earlier in the season. I don’t know what to attribute that to.
Amani: Yes, absolutely. They knew the Dallas coach got fired so the Giants game plan needed to be very fluid because you don’t know what the new coach will do. You have to come into the game with some different packages depending on what you see happening and then at halftime you have to be prepared to make major adjustments. It just didn’t happen. They didn’t adjust to what Dallas was doing and that surprised me as I think they’re usually a lot better prepared.
Amani: I just can’t believe Vick will stay this hot and I can’t believe the Giants defensive line will have three bad games in a row. I can’t see that happening. I feel like the Giants will win because they’ll be prepared. They’ve seen the success the Eagles are having and I expect the Giants to have one of the better games they will play this year.
Amani: Illinois vs. Northwestern at Wrigley Field. This is the fourth Illinois game I have covered and I think Illinois will win. The Northwestern quarterback is out plus Illinois needs only one more win to be bowl eligible. That’s something Illinois hasn’t had in a while so they have a lot riding on the game. It’s going to be a great game.
Amani: Thank you. It was a lot harder than I expected but I really enjoyed it and plan to run New York again. But I’ll need to practice more because near the end my legs really began to struggle. I finished in 4 hours and 13 minutes and was holding pretty steady until about mile 23 and that’s when I definitely started to struggle.
Amani’s Long Challenge
Amani Toomer has spent his athletic life competing in short bursts. As a football player, he worked in the few seconds between the snap of the ball that starts a football play to the whistle that ends it. Toomer was sensationally productive in that condensed time frame, catching so many passes for so many yards and so many touchdowns that there is no dispute that he is the best receiver in the Giants' 86-year history. Last month, Toomer was one of 30 inductees of the inaugural class of the Giants Ring of Honor.
10/19/10 Interview with Amani:
You were on the Giants sideline during the Detroit game. Is that something you plan to do on a regular basis
Amani: No, I was just there for the coin toss for Timex. It takes too long in the heavy traffic to get to the studio on 67th St. for the Giants postgame analysis I do for My9.
Looking back on the game against Detroit, how would you evaluate the Giants’ offense?
Amani: I thought Brandon Jacobs had a good game and I definitely think Ahmad Bradshaw has developed into one of the most elusive, hard to tackle backs in the NFL. I thought Hakeem took a little step back this week, particularly on that touchdown play. I think he gave up on the ball much too quickly. I would like to see Manningham get more opportunities because he’s getting so much out of what chances he gets. He’s a bright guy; he’s from Michigan.
How about the defensive scheme?
Amani: I think it’s really hard to evaluate because it really wasn’t about Shaun Hill, it was about Calvin Johnson and Javid Best and the defense still knocked Hill out of the game. Tom Coughlin spoke about Detroit being the best run after the catch team in the NFL so I think the Giants were respecting that in their scheme.
And the special teams?
Amani: I thought Reynaud had a good game returning punts and kickoffs and maybe he’s getting used to the Giants’ special teams. Otherwise I thought the kickoff coverage took a step in the right direction and played really well at times as did the punt coverage. The punter, Dodge, hit rock bottom when he dropped the ball twice but then after that he averaged almost 49 yds. a punt. So I think he grew up a lot in that game. When a young guy screws up and comes back strong, it’s a good sign because when some players go in the tank, they stay in the tank. And what’s the alternative? Who is out there right now?
Next week the Giants have Dallas and Dallas’ problems are mostly self-inflicted wounds. This is a great opportunity for Dallas on national TV to prove everybody wrong but if they do go down they have an excellent chance of not making the playoffs.
Similarly, this is a game where the Giants have an opportunity to deliver a knockout punch and not have to worry about Dallas for the rest of this year.
How do you see the other teams in the NFC East?
Amani: Anytime you get a quarterback the caliber of Donovan McNabb, you’ve improved your team. Washington has had good defenses the last couple of years but they didn’t have a QB. Now they do. McNabb has the ability to extend plays which helps the receivers and the offensive line so they’ll get better too. That team has a lot of talent.
I was surprised that the Eagles beat the Falcons as easily as they did. I didn’t get a chance to see much of that game but I was impressed by how quickly the Eagles put up 21 points. That, of course, made the Falcons one-dimensional and took away a balanced attack. Turner has to be involved in the game for the Falcons.
What BIG-10 game will you be covering this week?
Amani: I’m going to Illinois this week to cover their game vs. Indiana. This is my third game in a row covering Illinois for the BIG-10 pre and post-game show.
On a different subject, how do you feel about the possibility of suspending players for a helmet to helmet hit
Amani: I think the system of fines is good and should be enforced but I think suspending players is going overboard. You don’t want to give any team an advantage which is what will happen if you start suspending players. Also, if the league starts suspending players the teams are going to need bigger rosters.
You’ll also have to use instant replay. Take for example the De Sean Jackson hit, that wasn’t a helmet to helmet hit because the defender led with his shoulder. But when Pierre-Paul hit Follett, JPP ducked his head so they hit helmet to helmet. Since it wasn’t on a ball carrier, there was no flag.
I think the guys responsible for making the rules need to have been players because players have their own rules of conduct about what’s dirty and what isn’t a dirty hit. Some guy who just watches a lot of football may think something is a dirty hit when no player would agree. You can’t take the roughness out of the game or it becomes a different game. I definitely believe that you can’t allow a defenseless receiver to get hit in the head but even there it’s hard to see conclusively.
Toomer Inducted into Giants Ring of Honor
Amani Toomer remembered last Sunday afternoon when he was inducted into the Giants inaugural Ring of Honor ceremony as one of those rare, special days that occur in a lifetime.
At a recent kickoff and award luncheon Toomer was honored as Alumni Man of the Year and it was there that he learned that he would be one of 30 former Giants’ greats to be included in the new Ring of Honor just installed at the Meadowlands Stadium.
10/04/10 Interview with Amani:
Do you consider the Giants rather spectacular success on defense to have been due to the Perry Fewell defense starting to jell, the Bears’ poor offensive line, the Mike Martz system, Jay Cutler’s tendency to hold the ball or a combination of all four?
Amani: This Week is Penn State vs. Illinois at Penn State and next week is Illinois vs., Michigan State at Michigan State.
Excerpts from Giants Ring of Honor:
Tonight, the Giants take another step in acknowledging their tremendous history with the unveiling of their Ring of Honor. The Ring includes 30 prominent men who helped the Giants win seven NFL championships and almost 650 games and contributed to them becoming one of the most respected and admired organizations in professional sports.
“The Ring of Honor and a Hall of Fame are elements that have been discussed for quite some time,” said John Mara, the Giants President and Chief Executive Officer. “For many years fans have asked us why we had neither, and our response always was that we would when either Giants Stadium undergoes a refurbishing or we have a new stadium. So it was important that we have one or the other in our new building, and it has worked out that we now have both a Ring of Honor and a Legacy Club to recognize the great players and coaches and others who have made our organization what it is.”
“The Ring of Honor and the Legacy Club are great reminders for all of us of the responsibility we have in upholding the tradition of those who came before us,” said Giants Chairman and Executive Vice President Steve Tisch. “We are very proud of the individuals who are being inducted into the Ring, and we recognize them for their contributions to our organization with tremendous gratitude.”
The Ring of Honor will be displayed in the end zones of the New Meadowlands Stadium at every Giants home game. The list of 30 names begins with franchise founder Tim Mara and includes fellow owners Wellington Mara, Jack Mara and Bob Tisch. It includes George Young, the general manager who built two Super Bowl-winning teams, and championship-winning coaches Steve Owen, Jim Lee Howell and Bill Parcells. The 22 players in the Ring of Honor include 11 Hall of Famers: Mel Hein, Ken Strong, Tuffy Leemans, Emlen Tunnell, Frank Gifford, Rosie Brown, Sam Huff, Andy Robustelli, Y.A. Tittle, Harry Carson and Lawrence Taylor. The other players in the ring are Al Bozis, Charlie Conerly, Dick Lynch, Joe Morrison, Pete Gogolak, George Martin, Phil Simms, Michael Strahan, Jessie Armstead, Amani Toomer and Tiki Barber…
Toomer can’t wait to explain to his 10-month-old twins what the Ring of Honor means.
“It’s something that I can show my little kids,” Toomer said. “It’s a big honor just because of the fact that the Giants have been around for 80-something years and to be considered one of the top people that they want to acknowledge and remember, I’m pretty flattered…”
9/27/10 Interview with Amani:
Are you able to draw any conclusions after three games?
Amani: I’ve reviewed the games from the last two weeks and it looks like last year all over again with a different defensive coordinator. It looks like they’re playing just well enough to get beat and it’s really frustrating to watch.
Can you talk a little about the personal fouls?
Amani: The Giants are a physical team but to get that bothered about what the other team was doing or saying just didn’t make any sense to me. Also, I think it was one of those games where they needed to play mistake free football to win the game.
The Giants actually killed the Titans statistically. If you had asked the Giants what they wanted to achieve in the game they would have said to bottle up Chris Johnson and control the clock. And they did a good job with that and still lost.
Do you think the coach should have yanked McKenzie after the first personal foul?
The Giants don’t play that way. We’re not that kind of organization and I think the coach was delivering a message for next week as well as for yesterday’s game.
As for Rolle I don’t really understand what he’s doing. I know he came into a new situation and isn’t sure how things work so maybe he shouldn’t have spouted off at the mouth about the Giants just after he got there.
As far as the leadership issue goes, if Rolle saw a void why couldn’t her fill it?
What kind of preparation do you have to do for your My9 assignment?
Amani: I read all the stories every day and I will talk to a couple of people close to the team and then of course I watch the game on Sunday. But I will go into the game with a couple of points that I feel I need to hit - like this is something that the Giants need to address this game. Then I discuss whether they accomplished that or not.
For example, the special teams in general have been really bad. I’m sure they miss Feagles a lot, not just for his punting but as a holder. That was a big issue yesterday because that delay of game penalty was ridiculous.
You do My9 live on Sunday and you travel on Fridays for your coverage of a Big-10 game on Saturday. How do you make all that work?
Amani: I usually get home after the Saturday game between 9 PM-1 AM. I grab some sleep and then get up and run because I’m in training for the marathon. This last week I got home, fell into bed, got up and ran 18 miles, showered and went in to do the My9 program. I had maybe six hours which isn’t enough but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.
What Big-10 college game will you be covering this week?
Amani: I’ll be in Minnesota watching them play Northwestern.
9/16/10 Check out the interview on BBI with Amani and Phil Simms. Sports Talk Radio (BlogTalkRadio.com/STCP).
9/16/10 Interview with Amani:
After your first week analyzing the Giants performance for My 9, what impressions did you come away with?
Amani: Looking back to last Sunday I think that the Giants still have a problem with the running game. It’s one of those things that against a team without a solid quarterback is not going to be a real issue but, once they start playing against the division, they will need to become more balanced. I think if they can get their running game going they have a real shot at doing something special but, if they don’t, I don’t think they have much of a chance.
Also, the Giants kickoff coverage team is really bad. As a result they’re putting the defense into a very difficult position. The defense played a good game last week despite being put into a really, really bad situation. The kickoff coverage was giving the Panthers offense a really short field and they were lucky that Carolina doesn’t really have a top quarterback. But you can’t do that against any of the division opponents because they all have offenses that can make something happen.
Dodge, the punter, was kicking low line drive punts and that’s the worst thing you can do. I remember when I was a punt returner I loved those low line drives because I knew that I would have plenty of space between me and the gunner and I could really look up field. That’s all a punt returner is looking for - just some space.
It’s still a new defense under a new coordinator and I think you need to protect them a little bit more yet. So the kickoff coverage, punting and run game really need to improve, not just for the defense, but to control the clock and to control the game so the defense isn’t out there so much.
Looking ahead to the upcoming week, what do you think will be the keys to the game?
Amani: Looking ahead to the upcoming game, I think the Colts take the run game away from their opponents because they put scores on the board so quickly and easily that their opponents can’t run. I just think that you need to keep Peyton off the field because he can do so many things so well.
If the Giants can get the running game going, it will not only control the clock but also keep Peyton off the field. You don’t want him out there too long because he’ll find a way to score points. Last week the Texans ran for 231 yards against the Colts which kept Peyton off the field and didn’t give him much of a chance.
How about defensively?
Amani: The Giants defense will definitely need to keep pressure on the offense, particularly Dallas Clark who is a tough matchup. I’m not sure the Giants have any linebackers who can match up with him athletically all the way down the field.
I think it’s going to be a tough game because the Colts are at home plus they lost last week. Sometimes, teams won’t show up to play but you can guarantee that won’t happen Sunday. They’ll take this game very seriously so it will be a tough, tough game. If the Giants can pound it out on the ground they can take away some of Peyton’s firepower but if it’s an aerial attack I think the Giants will be in trouble.
I think the key to the defense is making the Colts run the ball. They’re comfortable with throwing the ball all over the field and they’re very good at it. So you always have to take your opponent out of their comfort zone and while the Colts are very comfortable passing they are less so rushing.
How are you enjoying your two news jobs now that you’ve joined the media?
Amani: I really like both of my new jobs and one of the things I particularly enjoy is that I can use all the stuff I learned playing without having to practice and without having to worry about getting knocked out on game day. I plan to hold the Giants to a high standard, in the same way I was held to a high standard when I played.
I also work with the Big-10. This week I’m going to the Ohio State vs. U. of Ohio. Ohio State will win and I don’t think it will be a great game. I wish we were doing the Minnesota vs. USC game because I think that will be a good game. I think Minnesota will win and they can get their season back on track by beating USC
Toomer Comes Full Circle
Amani Toomer has returned to his roots.
After spending his entire career in a New York Giants uniform, Amani Toomer, now retired, has joined the media and will be covering the Giants in a weekly My9’s post-game show this season.
His connection to the Giants reestablished, Toomer admitted to being very excited about his new venture as a member of the media.
“Getting to be part of the media and to be around the Giants again, after playing for them for so long, is really exciting to me,” Toomer said.
“I know the guys, which gives me a little insight into the team and eases the transition from player to media. It also helps that people around the New York area know who I am.
“I thought it was funny when I saw a Giants-Jets pre-season game recently and there was this fireman on TV, who apparently is a longtime Jets fan, and he almost got into a scrap with a guy wearing a Toomer shirt.
“I thought that was pretty cool.”
The Early Days:
Toomer was drafted in the second round (34th pick overall) of the 1996 NFL Draft, a disappointment as he had expected to be selected in the first round.
“The Giants had the 5th overall pick that year and I didn’t t think I’d be the fifth pick overall; I didn’t have that kind of senior year,” Toomer said, “So I expected to go to another team a little later in the first round.”
Toomer added that the team didn’t contact him before the draft so he had no reason to believe that the Giants were interested in him. And though he performed well during Senior Bowl week, Toomer didn’t believe that accounted for his selection either.
“I think I did alright at the Senior Bowl but the Seahawks coaching staff had a lot of plays that I wasn’t familiar with, “Toomer said, adding, “so it was a tough transition for me that week.
“I believe what happened is that Ernie Accorsi came out and saw me play in a Michigan game. He told me later that he saw me make a catch in warm-ups and said ‘We gotta have this guy!’”
The Giants got their man and Toomer recalled his first practice in a Giants uniform.
“I was nervous,” Toomer remembered. “You don’t know if you’re going to be any good in the NFL. That’s always in the back of every rookie’s mind even if they won’t tell you so.”
After rookie mini-camp, training camp quickly followed, though not quickly enough for Toomer, who was anxious to begin his Giants career in earnest.
At camp Toomer soon learned that an annual Giants form of hazing is to require a rookie to stand on a chair in the dining room and sing. It took only a few days before Toomer was summoned to perform.
“The veterans asked me to sing and state my name, school and signing bonus and I told them my name and school. Then I said, ‘The signing bonus is in the newspaper.’
“That didn’t go over too well,” Toomer laughed, remembering, “so the next practice I found all my equipment was gone.
“I was running around looking for it. Everybody else was in full pads, and I was just in my jersey and didn’t even have my helmet.
“Coach Reeves asked me where my stuff was and I said the players took it. Coach shook his head and said, ‘That’s bad.’
“I continued going through the drills and looking stupid because everyone else was in full pads and I was just running around in shorts.
“Then when we started stretching for practice, Coach came to me and asked, ‘What was your signing bonus?’
“I told him and that satisfied the players so then they told me my pads were behind the goal posts.”
Toomer admitted to having learned a valuable lesson that day.
“Rookies have to try to fit in and not stand out,” Toomer said. “You need the veterans to help you so you can’t go it alone.”
Toomer continued to adjust to his new teammates and challenges and when the regular season began, he kicked off his career on special teams by returning an 87-yard punt for a touchdown.
He played in seven games in ’96, getting his first start against division rival Dallas. Running a pass route on his first play Toomer stumbled, a stumble which proved costly and resulted in an interception for Dallas.
Later in the season, against another division rival, Washington, Toomer tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, ending his rookie season and necessitating reconstructive surgery.
Following successful surgery, as Toomer rehabilitated and watched his team from the bench, Coach Reeves alternately encouraged and rebuked his young rookie.
“I don’t think he believed I took the game seriously enough,” Toomer recalled.
“Coach Reeves was an old-school NFL coach and initially I found it difficult to adjust to his style.”
Following a 23-22 defeat in the season finale to the New England Patriots that year, Reeves was dismissed and Jim Fassel hired to replace him.
Then Fassel too cast a jaundiced eye in Toomer’s direction, telling him that he was failing to live up to his vast potential.
After coaches Reeves and Fassel hurled the gauntlet at Toomer, fearing his career might be a short one, Toomer dedicated himself anew to improving his game.
He looked deeply into himself, reevaluating his goals and determining how best to become the player he knew he could be.
“My experiences traveling around the world enabled me to appreciate what I had and to focus better on my goals,” Toomer said. “I made the decision then that everything I would do in football would be because I wanted to do it.”
“That’s why I feel things went my way and my game improved.
“I always knew I could produce for the team. I just thought it was a matter of time and in the NFL time isn’t something you always get.
“I’ll always be grateful to the Giants for hanging with me and giving me the time I needed to develop.”
Years of Achievement:
Still not content, he continued to weave his way through the Giants’ franchise record book until records began falling on an almost weekly basis.
And in the way of competitors, as goals were met and surpassed, Toomer found new goals to embrace.
In 2002, a year in which he was widely discussed as a candidate for the Pro Bowl; Toomer was disconsolate when he learned he had not been selected to play in Hawaii.
Though Coach Fassel explained to him that players often aren’t selected until the year after they first deserve recognition, Toomer remained downcast until the following Sunday.
That Sunday, against the Indianapolis Colts, Toomer had 204 yards receiving with three touchdowns, and after the game team owner Wellington Mara, a man Toomer greatly respected, visited the Giants’ locker room.
With a few well-chosen words Mara turned disappointment into pride and his simple but eloquent comment became the moment Toomer remembers even over the Super Bowl victory as the high point of his career.
“Mr. Mara told me I had made his Pro Bowl,” Toomer smiled, remembering. “To me that was a great moment and it made we feel just as good as if I had been selected.”
Toomer continued to set new Giants’ records until 2008, the last year of his contract, and the season he remembers as the low point of his career.
“I knew the coaches were trying to move me out and put Steve Smith in so that was tough, really tough!” Toomer said.
Now, two years later, Toomer admits to being a rookie once more.
He expects his first broadcast as a member of the Giants media to be very similar to how he felt back in 1996 when he first donned a Giants uniform.
“Mentally it will be a lot harder but I think the emotions will be the same,” Toomer said, thinking aloud.
“Ultimately I don’t know how good I’m going to be as a broadcaster, just as I didn’t know how good I’d be as a player.’
If history is a guide, Toomer will be just fine.
Excerpt from Giants Daily Notebook, September 1, 2010
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Tom Coughlin invoked icons in both basketball and baseball to fire up a football crowd today at the Giants’ annual Kickoff Luncheon.
6/12/10 An Interview with Amani:
Do you think there will actually be a lockout at the start of the 2011 season or do you think one side will blink first?
6/10/10 FORMER NEW YORK GIANT AMANI TOOMER JOINING TEAM TIMEX AND RUNNING 2010 ING NEW YORK CITY MARATHON
Toomer to Start Last, TIMEX Donating $1 for Every Person Passed
WHAT: Super Bowl Champion and former New York Giant Amani Toomer is set to join Team TIMEX for the running of the 2010 ING New York City Marathon. TIMEX and Toomer will work together in support of New York Road Runner’s Youth Program. Toomer will be be starting last, and for each runner he passes, TIMEX will donate $1 to New York Road Runner’s Youth Programs. The former New York Giant will also raise money for the program through fundraising websites where fans can go to support the charity’s efforts and keep track of Toomer’s training.
WHERE: TIMEX Performance Center 1925 Giants Drive East Rutherford, New Jersey