From the very moment former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was arrested for murder, the NFL has come under fire for a growing image problem. And with 29 players having been arrested since the Super Bowl, the cause for concern appears to be legitimate. But despite being located in one of the most densely populated areas in the country, the New York Giants have managed, for the most part, to steer clear of negative headlines.
With only 13 players having been arrested over the last 13 years, Big Blue is near the bottom of the pack for troubled athletes. And while the recent arrest of free agent linebacker Michael Boley cast some negative light on them, defensive captain Justin Tuck feels the team, and their image, uphold the standards of the National Football League.
"I think you always worry about the image of the NFL," Tuck said on Monday, after a Gillette Fusion ProGlide event at Story in Manhattan. "But the only way I can control that is the things that I do. I can’t control what other people do. I can only control what image is Justin Tuck and the New York Giants. And I think we do a good job of upholding the standards of the NFL."
While the Giants generally do a good job staying out of trouble, it's not because they don't take risks on players. In fact, General Manager Jerry Reese and the owners, both the Tisch's and the Mara's, are known for giving men second chances. Even now there are several players with suspect pasts on their roster; safety Will Hill being, perhaps, the best example.
The difference between the Giants and, say, the Cincinnati Bengals, who lead the league with 40 arrests since 2000, is how they deal with these young men. They take a no-nonsense approach. Reese sits down and talks with them before bringing them on, and then they meet with the strict disciplinarian in head coach Tom Coughlin. They are made aware that they have one opportunity to turn things around or find themselves without a job. But more importantly than anything else, they treat these men with respect and work with them to change their ways — they help rehabilitate them.
There are many reasons why the Giants are considered the classiest organization in football, and their ability to help turn troubled young men around is just one of them.
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