New York Giants  

 

New York Giants still dealing with fallout from cold-tub incident

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants, to a man, will admit that it didn't look good.

The chaotic cold-tub video, viewed in the singular, out of what players would call the proper context, appears to be evidence of mean-spirited bullying.

A big guy taking on a little guy. And winning. By sheer force. No contest.

Take that, Prince Amukamara: another dip in 30-degree water.

Yikes. And, no, thank you.

But this isn't a middle-school cafeteria. Or a playground. Or a kid who's just a little bit different being cruelly ostracized.

These were NFL players -- who aren't exactly like the rest of us, no matter how much we want to project -- doing what they've always done during the dark days of training camp.

This was Amukamara, a cornerback, being dumped into the tub by hulking defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul while rowdy teammates roared. The weeks-old incident wound up on Twitter, thanks to punter/videographer Steve Weatherford, who posted it Friday then apologized Sunday.

Weatherford had violated "the trust in the locker room," coach Tom Coughlin said. That, in professional sports, can be unforgivable.

The incident? If it's featured on HBO's "Hard Knocks," as Justin Tuck noted, viewers are entertained and "ratings go up."

Giants safety Antrel Rolle, a leader who doesn't mince words, called the situation "silly." Said Tuck, a team captain: "If you haven't been a part of a culture like this, in this locker room, it's kind of weird. I don't expect everybody to understand it."

To know how Coughlin truly felt, consider that by late Monday afternoon, he had talked privately with Weatherford about social media, but not with JPP about the actual dunk. (That conversation, he said, was forthcoming.)

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But perception matters. The New York Giants understood how the video looked -- no one saw Amukamara drying off and fraternizing with those same teammates later, Tuck said. They also understood that the story going public was a self-inflicted wound by the punter. (In other words, the Giants could blame the media if they wanted to, but a snooping reporter didn't uncover this.)

So Monday was about owning it and owning up, which is why everyone involved stood at his locker and answered questions until there were none left to ask. That's why Coughlin, post-practice, told the media "anything you want to talk about" is fair game.

Coughlin said that one organizational objective is to abolish bullying, not tolerate it. Tuck has delivered an anti-bullying message to kids, as have some teammates. There was a lesson to be learned here.

"It is a situation that needs to be addressed," Amukamara said. "It looks like it is bullying and it looks like it is foul play ... which is why I can see (how) it is taken out of context."

Rolle said every "family" engages in "horseplay," and he said that Amukamara feels the same way.

"We wouldn't do it if he didn't feel that way," Rolle said.

Said Amukamara: "My teammates love me."

Training camps have long included rites of passages for young players. Some have to sing songs or perform skits. Others find dye in their shoes or are given embarrassing haircuts.

Tuck and Rolle said they, too, were subjected to cold tubs when they were young. (Yes, it took more than one teammate to lift Tuck in.)

Other players got the cold-tub treatment this month while at the University at Albany. That won't be happening again anytime soon, though.

Coughlin was concerned that an injury could result from such activity. "I told the players those days are over," he said.

Amukamara, whose more pressing concern is proving he was worth a first-round draft pick in 2011, is no longer interested in "pranking," saying it would take too much effort to throw another player in a tub.

Effort isn't the issue for Pierre-Paul, who could lift a Volkswagen into a pond. He said pranks will continue in the privacy of the locker room, but his days of dunking teammates are over in this, his first and last year as deliverer to the cold tub.

From here, if the Giants choose their usual path -- assuming this escapade isn't simply entirely forgotten, which could happen -- they will use the episode to galvanize, to further their belief that strength comes solely from within.

The team's slogan for the 2012 season is "Build the Bridge." It could, somehow, be forged over the cold waters of a steel tub in Albany. Imagine that.

Follow Kimberly Jones on Twitter @KimJonesSports.

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