|New York Giants star Jason Pierre-Paul (left) was seen on video dumping Prince Amukamara into a cold tub.|
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- As the preseason plods along, the New York team that prides itself on mostly avoiding distractions found itself dealing with one Monday.
"We're fully aware," safety Antrel Rolle said, "of what things look like to the outside world."
There were questions about the physical treatment of second-year cornerback Prince Amukamara, a relatively small player who did not appear pleased to have been carried and deposited into the tub by hulking star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
"I can understand how it's perceived," captain and defensive end Justin Tuck said, "and what a mother watching that at home with her sons is saying."
"I pride myself on being a good example and that was a lack in judgment," Weatherford said.
"Inappropriate," he said after practice Monday, "on a couple of levels."
Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks' return to the practice field -- for the first time since he broke his foot May 24 -- was bigger football news. But the tub topic dominated all 60 minutes of the Giants' media access Monday morning.
"For us guys, it was funny," said Pierre-Paul, who is five inches taller than Amukamara and outweighs him by 80 pounds. "To the media and to all the fans, they didn't find it funny. I apologize to the fans and my fans and that's basically it. It was a joke gone bad."
Said Amukamara: "I just know that it is out of love. It is how we communicate with each other. I know that we did take it too far, and someone could have gotten hurt."
He added, "definitely no hard feelings," and later, "definitely not anything personal."
Amukamara indicated he had been dumped in a cold tub eight times as a rookie last year. He also said he would have strongly preferred for the incident to never have become public.
"I definitely think it is has (created) a lot of distractions to our team and doesn't give the NFL a good look," he said. "Coming into the NFL, we are taught to protect the shield, and I definitely don't think that it is doing that. It is definitely a situation that we are not trying to brush under the rug. We are trying to address it, and it was just a lot of horseplay that was taken too far."
When Coughlin talked to his players about the matter Monday morning, he criticized Weatherford for compromising "the trust in the locker room," objected to the profanity and offensive language -- "there's no way we would want that being broadcast," he said later -- and voiced displeasure that players had foolishly exposed themselves to injury.
The incident bothered Coughlin, who understood that the "roughhousing" could have been "perceived the wrong way."
"We know we have to be an example for young people," he said. "That's an important part of this."
Clearly, his message was received. Weatherford seemed slightly shaken as he stood in front of his locker.
"Everybody in this locker room loves each other," he said. "We all get along great. It's simply horsing around. It wasn't perceived that way, and I apologize for that."
Though Amukamara indicated the incident took place "two or three weeks ago" during Giants training camp at the University at Albany, Weatherford didn't post the video until last Friday, the night before the preseason game between the Giants and New York Jets.
"What goes on in these locker rooms should stay in these locker rooms," Tuck said. "And that's the unfortunate part, that that (video) got posted."
Several Giants noted that such incidents are part of the culture of football and have been for years. But they also recognized that outsiders would not necessarily understand that. And there was a keen awareness -- reinforced by Coughlin earlier in the day -- that such antics are publicly unacceptable when it comes to the bigger picture of setting an example, especially for children.
"It was not meant to be any hazing of any sort to any of our teammates," Weatherford said. "We all went through grade school, middle school, and we understand the difficulties of growing up and being accepted. This had nothing to do with anything like that."
Tuck, who described the incident as "a little hazing" but similar to what he and others went through as young players, said he has delivered anti-bullying messages to groups, as have some of his teammates.
"First of all, absolutely none of us condone bullying," Tuck said. "And we've heard that. You don't want to put anybody in the situation where they can get hurt. With that said, we just have to do a better job of being conscious of how that looks, and how people can perceive it."
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