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New York Giants’ Mathias Kiwanuka Feels He Can Have His Best NFL Season at 31

August 12th, 2014 at 3:00 PM
By Douglas Rush

Mathias Kiwanuka has always been a team player since being drafted by the New York Giants eight years ago and no matter what they've asked him to do, whether it be play defensive end or linebacker, or even going as far as taking a paycut to help the team land free agents, he's always been up for the job.

Now entering his ninth season in the league, all with the Giants, Kiwanuka is again being put to the task; this time, take over a starting role left by former team captain Justin Tuck, who departed via free agency to the Oakland Raiders. But it's nothing new for Kiwanuka to step up and start when needed; which he did in 2008 after Osi Umenyiora went down for the season with a knee injury and he started all 16 games and recorded eight sacks.

Now at 31-years-old, Kiwanuka is will look to have a season similar to that one, which in his eight years, had his highest sack total, but as he told the media on Monday during practice, he feels that the 2014 season will be his best one of his career.

"Honestly, this is the best I’ve felt since I’ve gotten here," Kiwanuka said. "Some of it is time. As the time goes, you become more comfortable in a situation; playing one position and playing one side of the ball. Those kinds of things do make a difference. I guess I never really understood the importance of it, but being able to stay on one side, to work against one person."

Kiwanuka is using the motivation of a disappointing season in which he did record six sacks, but was graded as one of the worst full-time pass rushers in the league. Thus far in the preseason and in training camp, Kiwanuka has graded out as one of the better 4-3 defensive ends and the defensive end admits that he knows his time in the league won't last forever and is enjoying his time, thus why he's in a more relaxed state of mind.

"It’s so much fun," he said. "The waking up, the grind part, being away from your family, I could deal without that. But when I finally get a chance to walk out of those meeting rooms and onto the field, it’s a chance for me to have the most fun I can. I absolutely hate sitting in meetings but I absolutely love getting into games. And, you know, I’m getting to the point where I know I’m not going to do this forever. I’m taking it in and enjoying it. That’s a freeing feeling. I’m not anxious about anything anymore. I’m out here to achieve the most I can for myself and my team."

The paycut that Kiwanuka took — dropping his salary down to $1.5 million — was something that at first he was bothered by, but after having the offseason to think about it, he's not letting it get to him and will simply concentrate on his game and helping the Giants be a winning football team in 2014.


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30 Responses to “New York Giants’ Mathias Kiwanuka Feels He Can Have His Best NFL Season at 31”

  1.  Krow says:

    I’ll say it … Kiwi got a raw deal. He wasn’t tragic last year. He wasn’t a problem. They should have honored the deal they made. What they did to him is kind of low rent, and some might consider it beneath the team to treat a long time career Giant this way. I know I do.

    •  James Stoll says:

      especially given how they’ve asked him to sacrifice throughout his career
      whatever you think of his raw abilities, there is no more stand up guy on the team

    •  Dirt says:

      I disagree. Guy has never proven to be worth a ton of money. So, like Tuck, he was offered a deal that was commensurate with his capabilities.

      Tuck decided he was worth more. Kiwi saw the writing on the wall (namely, all the other Giants who have left and quickly found themselves out of the league) and decided to stay.

      •  James Stoll says:

        Kiwi Hater (aka Osi Lover)

      •  BBWC says:

        I got to agree with Krow on this one, I think Kiwi got a raw deal as well. If you think about it, Kiwi was becoming a pretty darn good DE just before they moved him to LB.

        At that point Kiwi had to learn a new position instead of excelling at his natural position, which in turn, probably cost him a lot of money.

        Kiwi did everything the team asked of him regardless of how it may have effected his career and money, for the good of team. Than they low ball him?……. he got screwed in my mind.

  2.  rlhjr says:

    He handled it an aplomb and class that the situation was not worthy of.
    But that is his way. It’s also his way to minimize the distraction potential that a moping veteran can have on young players and the team in general.

    He did make known his displeasure and I commend him for letting them know.
    If he were a player re-neging on his deal he would be subject to all manner of obscene comment and criticism.

    I don’t think he is dynamic enough athletically to warrant playing linebacker.
    But the man answered every request the coaching staff made of him. And he did his best each time. That is worthy of respect.

  3.  Dirt says:

    Of course, if Kiwi is pissed about his salary, he could always go out and earn a better one. Maybe move that high watermark of eight (8) sacks a bit higher. Until then, he’s signed to a price fitting for his age and production.

    More than happy to be shown up here.

    •  Dirt says:

      People should look at Victor Cruz when they’re pissed about dollars. Aside from some making some trash clothes, he’s done it the right way the entire time. Undrafted. Stowed away on fake IR. Waited for his chance and never let go. Signed that big deal.

      Compare to the 1st rounder who was handed a golden opportunity and has never done squat. Newsflash: you’d never had gone to LB if you were a 1st round-calibur DE.

      •  James Stoll says:

        Kiwi Hater (aka Osi Lover)

        when he was drafted in ‘o6 we had Strahan, Osi, and Tuck on the rise
        so your connection of dots is not entirely fair

        and he filled in pretty darn well in ’08 after Osi was lost in preseason, even though he played the entire season on a bumb ankle courtesy of the cheap shot from the Washington Redskins

        and, he was flat out the best defensive player on the team through 4 games of the 2010 season before he went down with the neck injury

        so you are being a little harsh

        •  Dirt says:

          Sure, guilty as charged: I love the guy with the 4th most sacks in team history and the only player to ever record a double double (Sacks, FF). Ever.

          Nothing to do with Kiwi’s inability to own that spot.

          No one who is really good at one position is moved to another position, ever.

          Listen, I’m fine with him being here for the price he’s being paid. He just shouldn’t act all disparaged when he has fully earned what he’s getting.

          •  Dirt says:

            Let me run with that a bit further:

            Osi recorded a double double in sacks and forced fumbles. At 31, the 9th year player is just trying to record his first year ever with double digit sacks, let alone even imagine putting the ball on the floor a ton of times.

            Osi once recorded 6 sacks in a game. The other guy took 15 games to record just two more.

            They’re not anywhere near on the same page. Ergo, salary reduction and a frequent push to go play somewhere else while the real difference makers were allowed to play. The Fisher Price story of “sacrificing for the team” is cute and all, but make no mistake: he had no choice. Because he just was never good enough.

            •  fanfor55years says:

              Osi was, and remains, the least appreciated member of this team over the past decade. Guy was an outright stud who won games via big plays that determined outcomes of seasons. They don’t win either championship without his major contributions. I happen to like Kiwi a lot more than you, but Kiwi ain’t in Osi’s league.

              •  G Fan since Ninteen Forty Eight says:

                And how many big plays went by him because he did not protect the edge or was sucked into and inside blitz w the run going outside for large gains

            •  rlhjr says:

              Yeah. Kiwi is not the end all be all. But he was forced into the role playig mode when as Blue pointed out the team had one HOF and two All Pro’s working full time. So you are correct DIRT. Kiwi is being paid what he is ultimately worth. However, how much should be deducted from what Osi made to only be a one trick pony?

              In other words, I could (in my youth) set the edge better than Mr. Double Double. And what’s Osi’s double digit tackles (minus sacks) high water mark for a season? I’m betting eight.

              Still I loved Osi. But he never saw a running play he didn’t hide from.

        •  fanfor55years says:

          Dirt hates Kiwi the way I hated that tall piece of uselessness called Barden. Difference is, Kiwi can play a little.

          I don’t mind the demand of a cut from him. He earned good money from us his first seven years here and didn’t play equal to his contract. Now he has a “prove it” deal that could get him a pretty decent last contract with us or another team if he plays up this season. I think he will, in part because I think he’s a lot better than many assume, and in part because I think offenses are going to be unable to double him since they will have their hands full with JPP.

          •  Dirt says:

            Nah, I don’t hate him. It’s gray. I just think it’s absurd to think anyone else but himself is responsible for anything that’s ever happened to him.

            Which is why when Stoll says “he had Strahan, Tuck and Osi” I again say look at Cruz. At least Kiwi was given a chance by default by his draft status and guaranteed contract. Cruz made lemonade out of lemons, and he, too, had “answers” in front of him (Nicks, Manningham, Smith, Coughlin’s boy Hixon).

          •  Dirt says:

            Also, you bring up another good point that I forgot: teams having their hands full with other Giants greats.

            If he couldn’t rock out with Strahan, Osi, Tuck, JPP getting all the attention before, how’s he gonna do it now?

            Here’s a prediction: Moore has more sacks than Kiwi this year.

            •  James Stoll says:

              Cruz is great and no one saw it coming, not our GM, n0ot our coaches (they benched him after week 1 of his breakout year and only played him week 3 because Hixon got injured in week 2), not the fans. Cruz is a gem
              His spectacular play neither indicts nor denegrates Kiwi’s play.
              I will agree Kiwi has not played to a No. 1 pick status, but it is not his fault the Giants reached that high

              As for Moore out-sacking Kiwi this year, he might if he gets the snaps
              but if he keeps demonstarting a complete lack of contain as he has in the first two games, he’s going to get precious few snaps with which to do so

          •  skinnydoogan says:

            as I despise both Brewer and Robinson, utterly useless as football players anyhow….

  4.  fanfor55years says:

    Jim, your comment about players running away from Reese is not fair. Three were damaged goods who Reese knew shouldn’t be paid what they wished. Shockey was Shockey, someone who should have been institutionalized and who made the Giants better via addition by subtraction. Only Nicks seemed to want out when there’s still a decent chance he’s a good player. I don’t know that we’ll ever know why, but Reese’s attitude (learned from Accorsi) that you never need be in a hurry to satisfy players and their agents until you need to do so might have been one among many factors. It doesn’t apply to the others.

    •  James Stoll says:

      I never said JR did anything wrong, but each of these players left embittered — and Osi is at the top of that list
      My kidding of Dirt aside, I too loved Osi and was more than a little stunned at how management essentially ran him out of town despite his historic contributions
      something went badly wrong with Nicks too to the point he wouldn’t even talk to the team when contract time came around
      and as i said above KP and SS were both damaged goods; that still doesn’t explain why they left embittered

      anyway, not a big point

      •  Dirt says:

        I think you have a good observation re: all the players who leave bitter. Honestly, I think that bitterness should all be reflected inwardly.

        Becuase the truth is, we know of one player who was ever let out the door and had any semblance of a career (Cofield). Every single one of the rest have left and watch the games on their couches like us.

        So deep down, these players know it’s a death sentence to be let go. And so if they can’t even get to the contract table to argue their point… It’s gotta be scary to know your career is coming to an end.

        •  James Stoll says:

          Both Shockey and Osi left bitterly. Shockey played 3 more years with the Saints (and got a ring) and at least 1 year with someone else. Osi is still playing with Atlanta. We will see about Nicks.
          Clearly KP and SS were unable to keep playing.
          All I was noting that each left with bitterness towards the team which is not historically that common with this franchise

          •  fanfor55years says:

            Osi (whom I absolutely loved) was clearly past his prime. It probably made sense to let him walk, even if he had one more good year in him, because he wasn’t going to take a one-year deal.

            Shockey was not only a jerkwad, but had actually impeded Eli’s development and absolutely had to go. Sure Shockey played for the Saints but he was never the dominant tight end they hoped he’d be.

            I think Nicks could still have a big-time career. I don’t understand what happened there and I don’t think we’ll ever know. Joseph will also have a good career, but he didn’t leave bitter, he just got a much better offer than Reese was willing to even contemplate. We’ve got Hankins, and Patterson, and Kuhn, and Jenkins, and we drafted Bromley. It was the right move to walk away from Joseph.

        •  fanfor55years says:

          And one could argue that they let Cofield go because they knew they’d have a cheaper and at least equal solution with Joseph, and then let Joseph go (he’ll have a solid career too) because they know they have a cheaper and better solution in Hankins.

          Reese’s mother didn’t raise a dummy.

  5.  G-MenFan says:

    It’s a bit difficult to feel sorry for a multi-millionaire with 2 SB rings who has never played to his draft position. I like Mathias Kiwanuka but he’s being paid exactly what he’s worth at this point and it’s Reese’s job to make that happen. And he did.

    As for players leaving bitter: I think they swallow that “you’re in the family/once a Giant, always a Giant” hooey hook, line, and sinker. Players who are presently on the roster should never be told that because it makes them feel that the team is going to do whatever it possibly can to re-sign them and it leads to hard feelings when the team conducts business and lets them walk. The game has changed and so has the business. There aren’t going to be very many “Giants for life” going forward.

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