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Pierce and Strahan lashes out at the Media


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Pierce goes on attack over Giants' defense

Friday, September 21, 2007


Star-Ledger Staff

Antonio Pierce makes a handsome salary playing defense for the Giants. But yesterday the veteran linebacker and defensive captain chose to go on the offensive.


Apparently unhappy that a few newspapers took him and several other veteran defensive players to task for ducking the media on Wednesday (one story suggested the Giants were in need of a leader on defense), Pierce apologized yesterday -- sort of -- then took aim at the criticism leveled at the Giants' defense.


"I'm sorry I haven't been able to come talk to you guys," said Pierce, who hadn't spoken to local reporters since last week. "But I just read a book (about Gen. George S. Patton). ... Patton was a great leader and everybody talked about him. I did finish that book, I have a lot of notes from it and I'm going to try to use them this week."


Pierce sarcastically added that all the players absent from the locker room Wednesday were not present because they were reading the book together.


Beside his biting remarks, Pierce also blew an actual air horn after a Ch. 5 television reporter asked him questions about the defense, which has given up an NFL-worst 80 points in the first two games. When asked the question again, Pierce snapped: "No questions about the defense today."


"You know what? I was actually looking for applications from some guys who know anything about how to play defense," Pierce said. "If there's anybody here. ... I guess y'all have all the X's and O's and answers for us and you know what our problem is. Everybody knows what our defense runs, so we're asking the media and the fans: If you can please help out the New York Giants defense, we'd gladly appreciate it. Fan mail can be sent to Giants.com."


One suggestion the Giants could take under consideration is to do a better job covering the tight end. Jason Witten of the Cowboys had 116 yards and a touchdown in the season opener, and Bubba Franks and Donald Lee each had a TD for the Packers last weekend. And Sunday, the Redskins likely will look for talented tight end Chris Cooley.


"Do you have an answer for that? Did you write that book: 'How to cover the tight ends?'" Pierce asked a reporter. "We don't have the answers in here, so I guess we're asking the fans, the media and everybody else that has the answers to help us out."


Most of Pierce's teammates chuckled at their emotional leader's comments. Defensive tackle Barry Cofield chalked them up to Pierce being "always intense," and pointed out that it is always a big deal for Pierce to play the Redskins. He played in Washington for four seasons before joining the Giants in 2005.


Cofield laughed when he was asked if he had read Pierce's book selection. "I haven't read a book since elementary school," he said.


But Pierce's fellow defensive captain, Michael Strahan, also lashed out at the media yesterday. He took umbrage when asked about a television sideline report during the Green Bay game that said the Giants didn't seem bothered as the Packers pulled away in the second half.


"That's crap!" Strahan said. "It's just so disappointing to me when you guys have me come out here to answer questions, you ask stuff that's just ... That's crap."


Strahan also pointedly ignored a question from one reporter who had written something critical of him earlier in the week. The reporter tried to ask about the right side of Washington's offensive line, which has been shuffled a bit because of injury, and Strahan turned his head away from the questioner, choosing to answer another question.


Colin Stephenson may be reached


at cstephenson@starledger.com





Antonio Pierce, Michael Strahan get testy with media





Friday, September 21st 2007, 4:00 AM



Antonio Pierce has no answers for the awful play of the Giants' defense, so he let an air horn do his talking yesterday.


The linebacker and defensive leader continually cut short questions from a Ch.5 reporter with the annoying blast of an air horn that was hidden under his sweatshirt in his first appearance in the locker room since before Sunday's loss to the Packers.


The calculated stunt was designed to deflect criticism of his unit's historically bad play by playing the clown. He thought he was being clever, but just like the Giants' first two blowout losses, it wasn't very funny.


Three times, Pierce interrupted questions with a blast until Reischea Canidate, the Ch. 5 reporter, said, "That's not necessary."


"I want to talk about the Redskins. I don't want to talk about our defense," Pierce said, as if the two were mutually exclusive.


And Pierce wasn't the only Giant who got defensive about the defense.


Michael Strahan, who missed all of training camp and preseason, was irked when asked about a TV report during Sunday's loss to the Packers that showed the Giants sideline sitting passively as Green Bay broke the game open.


"Anybody can sit on the sideline and look at the bench and go, 'Oh.' That is crap. You know what? That is crap," Strahan railed. "It is just so disappointing to me when you guys had me come out here to answer questions and you ask stuff that is just. ...Be creative. That is crap. Coach (Tom Coughlin) answered it. Don't ask me what you asked Coach. I am not Coach."


It was just another typical day in the land of the Giants, where the soap opera of last year has made its season premiere just three weeks into the season. After last season's Tiki Barber plot line grabbed ratings and headlines, this time the focus is on a defense that has allowed a league-worst 80 points and a league-high 621 passing yards and has watched opponents convert a ridiculous 54.2% of third-down opportunities.


"We're asking the media and fans, if you all know how, to help out the Giants' defense," Pierce said, challenging everyone else to do what the Giants' players and staff have failed to do so far. "We would appreciate it. Send it to Giants.com."


Pierce didn't get serious until he finished the interview with a final blast of his horn. It was an uncharacteristic display for a player nominated by the Giants beat writers for their Good Guy Award last season. Pierce had boycotted the print media since Sunday's loss (but made three paid appearances on TV and radio), so at first he apologized for his absence by explaining that he was too busy reading a book on Gen. George Patton, in order to become a "better leader."


Actually, he might have been better off studying Gerd von Rundstedt, the German general whose forces were trampled by Patton's Third Army just as the Cowboys and Packers have steamrolled the Giants.


"I expressed that to my teammates and hopefully they can find someone to lead so we don't look like a bunch of sad puppies on the sideline again. Is that what we looked like?" Pierce asked.


Pierce eventually admitted that some of the criticism was fair but added, "If everybody has the answers, why doesn't someone tell us? If we're sitting here holding press conferences like this, then I'm wasting my time doing this (when) I could be watching film and that's what I do best. I don't get paid for media during the locker room hours."


Errr... the problem is that during his print media boycott, Pierce made paid appearances on SNY's "Daily News Live," WFAN and Sirius Radio. And, since the NFL's new media policy mandates that players make themselves available during locker room hours, that duty is part of his contract and his salary.


In any case, while Pierce clowned around, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was trying to reassure everyone that things would get better and that he does have the players to play the defense he brought over from Philadelphia, even if he doesn't have Lito Sheppard, Sheldon Brown and Brian Dawkins in his secondary.


"I believe in the guys. I believe in the coaches. I believe in what we are doing. I believe in how we are doing it and I believe in sticking with it," Spagnuolo said. "This is no time to bail out. I probably repeat myself a hundred times here, but you stick with the process."


"You can't think about yesterday's spilt milk," Strahan added. "You have to worry about the delivery today."


Comedy-wise yesterday, delivery was just the latest problem for the Giants' defense.



Giants' Spagnuolo not ready to deviate from defensive philosophy




(Original publication: September 21, 2007)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Steve Spagnuolo wished he could have had a chat with his old mentor, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, but just went back to honing his system instead.


Antonio Pierce read "Patton: How to be a Better Defensive Leader" and hoped the rest of his teammates would join him in the Book of the Month Club method of motivation.


If the Giants do shut down the Redskins Sunday at rowdy FedEx Field, guess which philosophy will have the bigger impact.


Yep. Probably Spagnuolo's. It's unlikely that perusing a 224-page book, unless it's about former Giants defensive back Jimmy Patton and not the long-dead World War II general, will add much in the attempt to shut down Clinton Portis, Ladell Betts and Santana Moss.


But that's what bad teams do. They stretch for answers, trying everything from ducking the media, as Pierce did since Sunday before coming out to meet the gang yesterday, to blowing airhorns in the locker room, which Pierce also did to signal the end of said press conference.


Spagnuolo? The Giants' new defensive coordinator preferred to keep working while shining a positive light on the historic woes that have gripped his defense. Still, though, he wished he had somebody to talk to about those 80 points and other such horrible numbers.


Like the genius who works 90 miles down the New Jersey Turnpike.


"You know what's funny?" Spagnuolo said. "I sent Jim an e-mail about a week ago saying I wish we weren't in the same division, because then we could bounce things off each other. That's hard. That's a conflict of interest for me to call and him to try to help me, or me to help him.


"But if we weren't in the same division, we'd certainly have a lot of phone calls because I believe in him and he's a good coach."


That being impossible, Spagnuolo said the key to turning around a defense that can't stop anybody right now is sticking to and working inside the scheme. Though there could be some lineup changes in the offing - Aaron Ross in place of right cornerback Corey Webster, Gerris Wilkinson in place of weak-side linebacker Kawika Mitchell, even returning linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka to the defensive front eventually - belief in the system was paramount in Spagnuolo's mind.


"What we've been doing is just sticking with the process," Spagnuolo said. "We keep talking about that and keep believing in what we're doing.


"You can't let two games shake your confidence in a 16-game season. When you're in certain adverse situations, you rely back on prior experiences. In 2003, we started 0-2 and wound up in the championship game. So it's not shaken yet."


Johnson undoubtedly would have reminded him of that year. Instead, Spagnuolo could only keep pumping an aggressive philosophy that hasn't been performed ferociously enough by players like Webster, Sam Madison, any of the linebackers, or a defensive front that includes a still out-of-shape Michael Strahan.


At least Strahan appeared the liveliest he's been since reporting on Labor Day, getting defensive over a question about the lack of defensive emotion on the sideline.


"You go into this game trying to win this game," Strahan said. "We're not worried about last week, and I guess that's what everybody here gets caught up on. Last week is over."


Pierce, meanwhile, spent some time poring over a biography, and said he assigned it to the defense as required reading.


Give the rest of the defense an incomplete, then, to go along with the "F" for its initial two-game effort.


"I read my defensive playbook," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "Maybe the linebackers read it."


"I haven't read a book since grammar school," defensive tackle Barry Cofield said, blissfully unaware of how odd that sounds coming from a former star of rigidly academic Northwestern University.


Tales of liberating Bastogne probably won't help the Giants Sunday. Then again, Spagnuolo cited Gibril Wilson's two interceptions for the season and the Giants' 2.3-yard first-half average on run defense against Green Bay as signs the defense isn't far off.


A little work and continued faith in the system is all they need, he said.


"I don't believe things aren't going right," he said. "There's a lot of right going on, and I'm hanging my hat on that."


Notes: Wide receiver Plaxico Burress missed a second day of practice with a sprained right ankle, but said he should be ready for Sunday. ... Kick-coverage specialist David Tyree took a second full day of practice, and could play with a protected cast around his surgically repaired left wrist. "There's no reason to be an idiot about it," he said. "It's awkward. But I can guide the ball in. And it might even help me a bit making a tackle." ... Wilkinson (dislocated kneecap) also continued to practice fully and should play. ... Inspirational former linebacker Jessie Armstead paid a visit from his car dealership in Manhattan. "They'll be all right," he said of the defense. "It's little steps, little steps." ... Pierce, who three times used his airhorn to cut off a question from a female Fox reporter about the defense before relenting and answering her, also may have opened up a can of worms by saying, "We're asking the media and the fans, if you all know how, to help out the New York Giants' defense. We would appreciate it. Send it to Giants.com."





Giants' shredded defense wants to turn page





September 21, 2007


As negative coverage goes, the only ones in New York to get it worse than the Giants' defense this week have been O.J. and Isiah.


Most of the leaders of that defense avoided the media this week the way they've avoided quarterbacks and receivers through two weeks of the season, but some of them, along with their coordinator, finally spoke yesterday.


The foundation of the questions - to paraphrase - had this premise: Your unit is hideous. Your thoughts?


"What we've been doing is sticking with the process," said first-year coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who oversees a defense that has allowed 80 points in two games and recorded just two sacks, both by Justin Tuck. "We keep talking about that and to keep believing in what we're doing."


Linebacker Antonio Pierce jovially apologized to reporters for not talking in advance of Sunday's game at Washington, saying, among other things, in an entertaining 10-minute news conference, that his time had been spent reading a book by Gen. George S. Patton.


"I have a lot of notes from it," said Pierce, one of the team captains. "Just the way he went about his business as far as inspiring the troops and everything else."


Pierce said the book had been read by the entire defense - The Big Blue Book Club? - though his tone and half-grin during much of the interview suggested some exaggeration.


"Whatever he said, I'm sticking to it," defensive tackle Barry Cofield said with a laugh. "I haven't read a book since elementary school."


An unlikely scenario for the Northwestern graduate, though Cofield turned serious when talking about defensive players' attitudes heading to Washington. "You gotta be angry," Cofield said. "Being the worst defense, points-wise, in the league, that makes you angry. We have a lot of pride."


Michael Strahan used the language of the notoriously acid-tongued Patton in addressing a television sideline report during last Sunday's game that said members of the Giants defense, toward the end of the 35-13 loss to the Packers, were a drained, dispirited and melancholy group.


"That's crap," Strahan said.


"We're going into this game trying to win this game. We're not worried about last week. That's what everybody here gets caught up in. Last week is over. A lot of you have covered us long enough and I've played long enough to realize that the more you hang on to what happened in the past, the more likely you are to repeat it."


Pierce started his interview intent on not talking about the first two weeks, clutching an airhorn - seriously - wrapped in a towel in his left hand. In the midst of any question relating to the first two games, Pierce sounded the horn, the shrill noise reverberating off the walls and giving the locker room the sound of a half ending during a high school soccer game.


Pierce was not unfriendly and later chided the media and fans for their reaction to the 0-2 start, even proposing fans log onto the team's Web site to register suggestions. "We're asking the media and fans, if you could please help out the New York Giants defense, we would gladly appreciate it," Pierce said.


The upbeat Spagnuolo said, as Tom Coughlin did earlier this week, those fixes aren't likely to occur with any major personnel changes in the starting lineup.


"I believe all of them have to help," Spagnuolo said. "I don't ever get hung up on who starts and who doesn't. When it's all said and done, we're going to need everybody. Guys at every position, including the coach running it, have to improve and step it up. That's the bottom line."


Pierce had his own bottom line, which was hard to refute.


"The fact is we're 0-2, we've given up 80 points, we're 29th in the league in defense," Pierce said. "We are a bad team right now. That is a fact."


And at that point, he wasn't grinning.


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So four days after calling the Giants defense "lifeless..." now they're "too fiery."



Good, I'm glad they're angry. But if they don't play well this weekend, look for the wheels to start to come off.



Shockey, Strahan, Plax, now Pierce... the negativity grows like a mold on this team.

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So four days after calling the Giants defense "lifeless..." now they're "too fiery."

Good, I'm glad they're angry. But if they don't play well this weekend, look for the wheels to start to come off.

Shockey, Strahan, Plax, now Pierce... the negativity grows like a mold on this team.


Yep, they showed a lot of fire by dodging the press until Thursday. And the intimidation factor in the lockerroom against the female reporter was incredible. The two defensive captains managed to fend her off with an air horn. Awesome.


Cooley must be quaking in his cleats.

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After a full round of questions for the rest of the defense, finally it was time for Strahan, but the media was unavailable. It was deciding whether it wanted to still report the news.


When asked about its status, the media responded from its current base in Southern California with this statement, "I've been thinking about not reporting the news for some time. I may not return to my job. I need more time." Sources indicate that the media has spoken with its editors and the word is that they've had "productive dialogues."


Strahan, without a reporter to talk to...was later told that the media would be back to report on he, his defensive cohorst, and the Giants in 48 days.

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From todays Post Giant Notes:


Is DE Michael Strahan ready for a breakout game? "He was getting after it pretty good," Spags said of yesterday's practice.


"After looking at the film of the Redskins last year, I realize I just need to be a little more aggressive," Strahan said. "That's one of the hardest things to pick up when you haven't played or practiced, the aggressive nature of the game, using your hands, hustle. That's what I tried to work on; hopefully it will carry over into Sunday. I feel good, I can't lie and say that I don't."


Well maybe if you had been in camp PRACTICING AND PLAYING you wouldn't be playing catchup in week 3 asshole.

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