Happy Sunday, New York Giants fans and welcome to the first day of June! As we inch closer and closer to the important summer practices and, subsequently, the start of football, anxiety begins to build for the season of head. But we ask that you put that ice for a few and enjoy your morning coffee over the following headlines.
When Will Hill was in high school, a star quarterback at St. Peter’s Prep, he would sleep at head coach Rich Hansen’s house the night before games.
The coach cared for Hill and always wanted to keep the outside world at arm’s length. Hill was incredibly talented, but volatile. He was good-natured, but grew up in a neighborhood that didn’t always allow kids to act that way. And Hansen wasn’t alone. There were many who tried to keep the outside world away from Hill, and many who watched it seep in anyway.
Privately, friends and acquaintances of Hill, who talked on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely on the matter, expressed their concern over the years. Maybe he was out too late when he should have been training. Maybe he was still getting high.
“He had every resource over the last eight years and blew it,” said a one-time confidant. “He will never get better.”
There isn’t a lot that Rashad Jennings isn’t interested in. The former Raiders/new Giants running back has his hands, and his money, working on everything from treating juvenile asthma to rescuing abused animals to reading initiatives for young people in Lynchburg, Va., his hometown. Someone once told Jennings, now a sixth-year pro, to slow down with all the bright and expensive ideas when he was a rookie in Jacksonville. After a few months, he ignored that advice.
“They would say Rashad, ‘You’ve got to focus on football,’ and I tried, but the more I let my heart spill out, the more football made sense,” he says. “This is actually my fuel more than it is draining.”
There’s a lot to say about Jennings—he maintains a strict gluten-free diet, he often sleeps in a hyperbaric chamber and he regularly quotes C.S. Lewis, the theologian and playwright who died in 1963. After rushing for a career-high 733 yards in Oakland last year, the 29-year-old signed a four-year, $14 million deal with the Giants.
But here’s our favorite factoid: Every February, Jennings identifies a high school in an impoverished community, rounds up some 40 kids and takes them to his alma mater, Liberty University, to participate in the school’s College for a Weekend program. Jennings took his first group two years ago, and his second group—from Jacksonville’s Ed H. White High School—went this offseason.
To get the inevitable comparisons out of the way, Nicks sees Luck bringing many of the same competitive juices to the field that he saw in Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
“Eli was much farther along in his career,” Nicks said. “He was like in Year 6 when I came in and this is kind of junior year, Year 3 (for Luck). It's a different outlook, but the competitiveness for both is there – the hunger for the game, the will to finish and having that fight.”
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