Steve Smith wasn’t an angry employee when he left the Giants to join Philadelphia’s dream team. He was disappointed to be leaving the only team he’s ever known as a professional football player, the team that drafted him in the second round of 2007, the team that he won a Super Bowl with in 2008, and the team with which he set a franchise record for single-season receptions.
No, angst wasn’t high on his list of emotions when he signed a one-year deal worth $4 million overall with the rival Eagles, and $2 million guaranteed. Smith gave a rather frank farewell on his Facebook page to the Giants organization and its fans last Thursday.
Giants head coach Tom Coughlin didn’t reciprocate Smith’s pragmatic approach, claiming in a press conference last week that the organization wasn’t even given a chance to retain Eli Manning’s favorite third down receiver. Coughlin’s main beef was that Smith’s agent Ben Dogra didn’t give New York the opportunity to match Philly’s offer.
After the front office struck out on Plaxico Burress and also lost tight end Kevin Boss, Coughlin sounded like a man with little control over his fate at the end of this season due to the disappearance of key offensive personnel.
“It’s like lining up for the race and you’re in the locker room and nobody tells you that the race is going to be run. That’s the disappointing thing here. I don’t believe that we were given the opportunity to do what we could do.”
Today Smith finally responded, and he maintained his disappointed but realistic stance.
From the New York Post:
“It was how many days since free agency [began] that I was out?” Smith told The Post, pointing to the roughly two weeks the Giants dawdled while he was available. “The Eagles made a great offer. I don’t know . . . the Giants had a lot of time. Let’s put it that way.”
“The Giants might have [taken me for granted], but the Eagles didn’t.”
Smith also added that he “used to hate the Eagles, and now he hates the Giants,” a remark that will send hoards of G-men supporters to his doorstep with bricks and torches. A sane mind would see this as an innocent comment, and one that Smith is required to make given his new employment address.
Those same Giants fans have every right to feel the same anger that Couglin openly expressed. Losing Smith was no doubt painful for general manager Jerry Reese too, but he fulfilled a primary duty in his job description, one that keeps him from being unemployed and joining that angry fan mob.
He made a difficult decision.
Smith would like you to believe that he’s recovering steadily from microfracture surgery on his knee last December, an injury that caused him to miss seven games. He says he’ll be ready for the Eagles’ Sept. 11 opener, but the far more realistic scenario has him being placed on the physically unable to perform list and missing the first six weeks.
The Giants are familiar with the fickle nature of Smith’s injury after their experience with safety Kenny Phillips last year, and forecasted that they would be paying a player still slowed by a major injury for at best a little over half the season. The prognosis simply wasn’t to Reese’s liking, and the two sides parted ways.
Coughlin doesn’t like it, Smith didn’t like it, and the angry Giants fan with blue facepaint sitting in the cubicle next to you didn’t like it either. But if the buyer is purchasing damaged goods, caution is required.
Reese wants to keep his job too.