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The Giants blog for Lower Hudson Valley fans.

Blurred Vision

Ernie Palladino
August
3

The NFL’s vision gets awfully blurry when there’s a buck at stake. Then again, that’s an old song. The only new thing here is the Giants’ newest deal with the Connecticut State Lottery.

The $5 scratchoff game, which will bring grand-prize winners $50,000, would seem to be a venture into gambling, something the league says it neither encourages nor condones. In fact, the honchos have always been reluctant to even recognize the billions of dollars that pass hands illegally every year through those little sheets with the numbers on the side that say “For entertainment purposes only.” Yet, the owners have no trouble now allowing their teams to partner with state-run gambling operations (after all, that’s what the lottery is, isn’t it?) that generate billions of dollars in revenue.

The owners voted for licensing agreements with state lotteries at their meeting May 19-20. Since then, a number of teams have negotiated with lotteries for brand placement.

Just seems to me that if you’re against gambling, you’re against gambling in any form. Then again, when you’re trying to raise a few hundred million to finance that new stadium, hitting the lottery might be just the thing.

EP

Posted by Ernie Palladino on Monday, August 3rd, 2009 at 11:12 am |
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Encouraging News

Ernie Palladino
August
3

Some encouraging news came out of practice this morning, relayed by my eyes and ears up there, regarding the wide receiver and safety situation.

As we all know, Sinorice Moss is in a make-or-break season, whether he wants to admit it or not. His minicamp was curtailed by a hamstring pull the second day, and it wasn’t a certainty he’d be ready for camp. Well, looks like he’s recovered, considering reporters watched him continue to fly past defenders in the opening drills at the University at Albany this morning. Maybe we’ll hear later on how many he caught.

Also, good news on Kenny Phillips, who moves into a starting position this year after a mixed-bag of a rookie season. He’s already made two interceptions, one off a tip by Corey Webster. And it’s good to see that Webster’s out there, since he missed all of minicamp with a shoulder¬† injury.

EP

Posted by Ernie Palladino on Monday, August 3rd, 2009 at 9:18 am |
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Giants report

Ernie Palladino
August
2

The Giants have reported to their University at Albany training camp, bringing with many of them what has become traditional acoutrements: large screen TVs and gigantic chips on their shoulders.

Now, I’m going to do a little full disclosure here. I’m not up there. I’m enjoying the constant drizzle and general ickiness of this area’s wet weather for various reasons far beyond my control. So I’ll be keeping in contact with my colleagues to interpret any big events that go on.

Today should be a quiet one, however, considering all are present and accounted for. Not a rookie holdout or disgruntled veteran holdout in the bunch. Which is good, because running back Brandon Jacobs sounded like they’ll need everybody as they once again circle the proverbial wagons against the outside world.

“I like the most that people are counting us out like they do every year,” Jacobs said. “Because we don’t have Plax and all this other stuff, we can’t do it, these young receivers can’t pan out, the veterans at receiver that we have can’t get it done, Plax is a special talent and it’s hard to find someone like him anywhere.

“But we have a lot of guys here that can play well enough to get the job done.”

Not exactly the opening shot of the Battle of Saratoga, but you get the idea. And thanks to Mikey G. for the quotes.

I’ll try my best to keep you updated on events from here. If nothing else, you’ll get some good humor here, so stick around.

EP

Posted by Ernie Palladino on Sunday, August 2nd, 2009 at 11:36 am |
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Nicks is done

Ernie Palladino
August
1

First-round wide receiver Hakeem Nicks will be at camp on-time tomorrow. He has agreed to terms and is expected to sign his contract later this afternoon. That’ll make nine-for-nine on draft picks.

Now, if the Giants can just get some of those unhealthy minicampers healthy again…

EP

Posted by Ernie Palladino on Saturday, August 1st, 2009 at 10:43 am |
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Pierce Finished — Testifying, that is!

Ernie Palladino
July
31

Antonio Pierce wrapped up his testimony in front of the grand jury with a two-hour grilling by the prosecution in the Plaxico Burress shooting case. Pierce, of course, is the guy who removed the gun from the scene as he transported Burress to the hospital for treatment of his self-inflicted thigh wound.

Pierce made no comment afterward. And since grand jury testimony is not a matter of public record, we may never know what was said in there. But it’s very likely that Pierce tried to plead his innocence to any crime.

Pierce’s lawyer, Michael Bachner, said he didn’t think Pierce ultimately would face criminal charges.

“We’re confident that the facts support the proposition that Mr. Pierce acted as any civilian in a similar circumstance would have acted,” Bachner said. “It was really clear once all the testimony came out that no one could have acted any differently.”

Don’t really know about that. But hey, that’s what Bachner’s supposed to say. He’s Pierce’s lawyer.

Next step is to see if the grand jury indicts him next week. After that, it’ll be up to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to determine whether Pierce’s case is worthy of a suspension under the league’s Personal Conduct Policy.

See? Camp hasn’t even started yet and things are getting interesting.

EP

Posted by Ernie Palladino on Friday, July 31st, 2009 at 6:37 pm |
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Sintim and Beatty In

Ernie Palladino
July
30

First-round wide receiver Hakeem Nicks is now the only Giants draft pick without a contract, as the team just announced the signing of second-round linebacker Clint Sintim and second-round tackle Will Beatty.

As Nicks’ agent, Peter Schaffer put it, “Still grinding away.” So there’s still a good possibility the Giants will have all present and accounted for when they report to the University at Albany Sunday. Beatty had been close for a day or two.

No terms of the deals as yet, but figure Sintim for four years at around $14 million and Beatty at four years, $13 million, based on other draftees who have signed around them. The biggest test for these guys is whether they’ll stand up in the early going, as both Sintim and Beatty missed time in minicamp with hamstring pulls.

The Giants waived WR Micah Rucker and, most notably for our area, former North Rockland star and Miami Dolphin’s seventh-rounder (2007) linebacker Kelvin Smith. Smith had been working his way back from reconstructive knee surgery that knocked him out all last season. Hopefully he showed enough during minicamp to get another team interested.

Have to say, as a rookie camp tryout, he was a longshot to make it as far as training camp. That he made it this far means the Giants must have seen at least a good work ethic.

“They told him it was a number game, but they really liked him,” Smith’s agent Neil Schwartz said. “He’s disappointed. He was really looking forward to putting the pads on and showing them what he could do, proving he was totally healthy.”

EP

Posted by Ernie Palladino on Thursday, July 30th, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
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Nicks not done

Ernie Palladino
July
30

Just got an e-mail from Peter Schaffer, the agent for the Giants’ first-round wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. Didn’t say much about whether he’ll make it to camp on time.

“Working hard every day,” Shaffer said. “We shall see.”

Nicks is one of three draft picks that are left unsigned, with second-round linebacker Clint Sintim and second-round tackle Will Beatty being the other two. Heard that Beatty was close, but messages to his agent have gone unanswered as of yet. I’m trying to get something on Sintim, too.

By the way, it shouldn’t be too hard for Nicks to get in. The Bills completed their negotiations with their first-rounder Eric Wood, who was taken a spot earlier, No. 28, than the 29th pick Nicks. He’s got a five-year deal. Shouldn’t be too hard to slot Nicks, but these things generally take until the last minute and sometimes beyond as the sides hammer out the fine print.

Woods missed seven practices. I’d be surprised if Nicks misses that much, if any.

EP

Posted by Ernie Palladino on Thursday, July 30th, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
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Pierce Testifying

Ernie Palladino
July
30

Antonio Pierce testified in front of the grand jury in the Plaxico Burress shooting case today, and he’s going to have to go back again tomorrow. Sounds like the jury is very interested in what he has to say about the role he played in spiriting the gun Burress shot himself in the thigh with out of the club on Nov. 29.

Like Burress before him, Pierce appeared voluntarily, waiving immunity. That means the grand jury could also find his role indictable, a situation the Manhattan DA’s office said it would pursue.

EP

Posted by Ernie Palladino on Thursday, July 30th, 2009 at 12:31 pm |
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Camp Memories

Ernie Palladino
July
30

The Giants are getting ready to report to their 14th and perhaps final camp at the University at Albany Sunday. If you ask me, I’d be surprised if they don’t continue to go up for at least that first week or 10 days because Tom Coughlin loves the team-bonding aspect of it. Then again, they’ve just built this beautiful facility in the Meadowlands that has the field space and other amenities needed to feed 80 players and the front-office, coaches, scouts, and trainers that have always accompanied the team northward. Besides, that new field house will come in very handy on rainy days. No more substituting walkthroughs on the Albany Recreation and Athletic Center basketball court for real drills.

I know a lot of you guys took in at least some of camp every year. Tell ya what. I’m going to share some of my fondest and most poignant memories of camp, and you tell me yours. Could be a restaurant, an afternoon at Saratoga before hitting the night practice, something you saw happen on the field — anything. I won’t say this is our farewell to Albany. Just a way to spend some time reminiscing on a nice summer’s day.

Here’s my top 5:

1. BRIAN WILLIAMS: On the third day of camp in 1997, another reporter and I decided to hit the practice field earlier than usual. Nice morning, we were bored in the press room, so we headed out. As we approached the field, there was the affable center flat on his back, hands to face, the most ungodly sounds I’ve ever heard a human being make. Turns out he’d been poked in the eye during a rudimentary, pre-workout warmup drill. Early estimates put him on the sidelines two, three days, then a week or two. But double-vision persisted, and it was eventually determined he’d fractured his orbital bone, among other issues. He was out two years. He finally came back in 1999 for one last season, but he was never the same. Good guy, too. Sad.

2. JEREMY SHOCKEY: We should have known what was coming with this guy when he showed up for camp late as a rookie in ’02 and then, at his first dinner, got into a punch-out with Brandon Short. Seems the linebacker demanded the reluctant Shockey to sing, a usual rookie hazing ritual. Shockey eventually followed orders, but not before he prefaced things with, “This is for Brandon Freakin’ Short!” or something to that affect. Short went after him, and Shockey wound up with a mouse under his eye. Sure wish I was there for that one, but we’re not allowed to eat with the players.

3. TIKI BARBER: I loved Tiki. Always willing to fill your notebook, as long as he had a full stomach. He often wouldn’t do interviews until after he’d eaten, which was okay because then he’d stand there for a half-hour fielding any and all questions. Always interesting and well-spoken.

4. THE CANNONBALL: Special teams drills can be as dull as any others unless they’re knocking punts out of bounds. You kind of have to keep your wits about you, or you might wind up embarrassing yourself as I did in the 2001 camp. Strong-legged Rodney Williams had just rocketed one toward us reporters. I figured, let me catch this one. Had it all lined up, too, until I saw it coming down like a cannonball. I ducked. It missed me. Another inch to the left, though, and they’d have called for the paramedics. That got a good laugh from the players and my colleagues, who didn’t let that one die for a long, long time.

5. STRAHAN AND GRAGG: Scott Gragg was a mild-mannered left tackle, perhaps way too nice to have to go up against Michael Strahan in pass-rush drills. Used to have a perverse enjoyment seeing Strahan torture him verbally as he repeatedly blew by the tackle. I remember hearing distinctly one play, “Don’t be sad, Gragg!” to which Gragg responded with a dirty word. They did get into it physically once or twice, with predictable results.

There were others, but you get the picture. Now share with me your memories.

EP

Posted by Ernie Palladino on Thursday, July 30th, 2009 at 10:28 am |
Category: Uncategorized
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Burress “Remorseful”

Ernie Palladino
July
29

Looks like Plaxico Burress put on the old dog-and-pony show for a grand jury looking into his illegal firearms charges this morning. He testified for three hours, and later told reporters that “I was truthful. I was honest. I am truly remorseful for what I’ve done.”

His attorney, Benjamin Brafman, said “He asked the grand jury for compassion and understanding. It took a big man to come here today and acknowledge his responsibility.”

Yeah, especially when he’s facing a couple of three years in a small cell at Riker’s Island. As for those who contend he only hurt himself, I wonder if Burress did his old friend Antonio Pierce a solid by letting him off the hook for spiriting the gun out of the Latin Quarter after Burress shot himself in the thigh.

Pierce could face criminal charges, too. And even if he doesn’t, the commissioner has the right to impose a suspension or fine for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. So you see, again,¬† that Burress didn’t just hurt himself.

A decision on whether or not to indict will come down at some undetermined point.

EP

Posted by Ernie Palladino on Wednesday, July 29th, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
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About this blog
Journal News/LoHud.com beat writers share their thoughts on the Giants with the Lower Hudson fans.

Jets Journal
About the authors
Ernie PalladinoErnie Palladino became Giants beat reporter in 1989 after previously covering a wide range of sports that included Yankees, Mets, boxing, Army football, St. John’s and Iona basketball, and Islanders hockey. READ MORE
Mike DoughertyMike Dougherty Mike Dougherty has been with the Journal News since 1988, spending most of that time in high school gyms and Madison Square Garden. READ MORE

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