The New York Giants are not shy about letting aging players walk in free agency or cutting them outright. In recent years they've done it with Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw, Osi Umenyiora, Chase Blackburn and, only a few short weeks ago, both Hakeem Nicks and Justin Tuck.
It's a tough part of the business to let players who have historic ties to the franchise leave, but a decision that has to be made with the brain and not the heart. Still, it's difficult for some to grasp, whether it be fans of the team or the players themselves. That's why, after the Giants cut him a year ago, running back Ahmad Bradshaw can sympathize with wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, whom Big Blue let walk earlier this offseason and whom now re-joins Bradshaw in Indianapolis.
"I know how it is over there. How they work," Bradshaw told ESPN. "It gets bad as you get more years in the league with Giants. You get the younger guys coming in. They visualize, and with me, they visualize me leaving and David Wilson coming in and being that guy. Andre Brown being that guy, and they had those two guys. They were like, 'Leave that money alone. Let him go, take care of the little guys.' That's how this league is becoming. As the year was going when I was with the Giants, my coach was like, 'They're just talking about younger, faster, healthy.' Nowadays these younger guys aren't as healthy. They come in and have some different stuff."
Unfortunately, the business side of the NFL can take a toll on players. For Bradshaw, whom the Giants may have considered bringing back this season, he was cut due to salary reasons and that's something that clearly rubbed him the wrong way — and perhaps rightfully so. After all, he had given the organization everything he had, but still, business is business and 32 NFL teams are in the business of winning, not crumbling due to loyalty.
Still, the experience is a humbling one and something difficult for veteran players to accept. In the case of both Bradshaw and Nicks, they feel they were made out to be team cancers when, in fact, they really weren't.
"I've been there," Bradshaw said. "They try to make you feel like you're a cancer to the team. Different things. It's really they want to try to get the younger guys experience and sit you down. Not that you've done anything wrong. I've been there and I know where he comes from. He's telling me, 'They said I was cancer there.' I know how it was cause I was there. I've been through that."
To be fair, no one in the Giants organization ever made a public or anonymous comment claiming either were cancers, although the local media did crack down relatively hard on Nicks. And while Brandon Jacobs initially felt disrespected — as did defensive end Osi Umenyiora — after only a year way, each were back to praising the Giants and expressing either their desire to return (Jacobs) or offering advice to other pending free agents, telling them to do whatever they could to stay with the Giants (Umenyiora).
Time heals all wounds and, hopefully, time will eventually pave the way to good feelings between Bradshaw/Nicks and the Giants once again.
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