The P Posted December 8, 2009 Share Posted December 8, 2009 LaVar Arrington was watching Sunday as the Giants defeated the Cowboys. “With a big smile on my face,” the retired linebacker said by phone Monday. The reason for Arrington’s smile was the grin he saw on Osi Umenyiora’s face — the Pro Bowl defensive end’s signature expression that had been missing for much of the previous two weeks. It was replaced by the scowl he displayed on the sideline during the Thanksgiving night blowout loss to the Broncos and a frown after finding out in the days following that he had lost his starting job. Arrington, more than three years removed from his last act as a Giant, proved to be a key to this weekend’s game by bringing Umenyiora’s smile back via a Sunday morning conversation with his former teammate. “My message was be thankful and be happy you’re able to play,” said Arrington, a former No. 2 overall pick of the Redskins whose career was cut short by a bone-on-bone knee condition and a torn Achilles’ tendon that ended his 2006 season — his only year with the Giants. “But ultimately, my message to him was football doesn’t define you; you define how you play the game of football. No matter what you do in life, you do it with the intent and the motivation that you’re leaving your mark on it, you’re building a legacy about how you did it. “And if you go out there and do anything that’s not your 100 percent effort, you’re only hurting yourself, you’re only hurting your legacy.” Umenyiora admitted Sunday that he had been discouraged by the demotion and in a mental rut until the call from Arrington. He then went out and recovered a fumble to set up the Giants’ second touchdown. Umenyiora didn’t have any other impact plays, but his on-field attitude in encouraging his teammates from the sideline and refusing to pout was noticed by many. “Outstanding leadership. Outstanding in terms of the example he set for his teammates,” coach Tom Coughlin said during a conference call with reporters Monday. “His vow was to go play harder, have a great game, work as hard as he could and do his job above and beyond in terms of inspiring his teammates. I thought his attitude was terrific.” Partly because of Arrington’s pep talk. “The one thing that really might have hit home was when I told him, ‘It’s easy to follow a leader when a leader is on top and everything is perfect,’” said Arrington, who owns a sports bar in Largo, Md., and hosts a radio show on a Washington, D.C.-area station. “‘But when you’re going through what you’re going through right now, this is the time you actually really earn the respect and that type of loyalty where guys will die for you.’” Arrington knows because he was demoted during his last two seasons with the Redskins in 2004-05. Arrington, who said the Redskins “tried to degrade me as a man” by labeling him a freelancer and a poor teammate, believes he played hard no matter how little he played. “I wasn’t the frontrunner, I wasn’t the star,” Arrington said. “But I would never give (the fans) a reason to stop cheering for me.” That’s exactly what Arrington told Umenyiora — the player Arrington nicknamed “The Ghost” for his ability to move so quickly he disappears. And maybe for his ability to kick a bad mood in a hurry as well. “He was having fun, he was having a good time, he was pumping his teammates up,” Arrington said. “He was being Osi.” http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2009/12/former_ny_giant_lavar_arringto.html Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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