INDIANAPOLIS — No big deal, just a costly mistake.
A day after being fined $20,000 by the NFL for missing a mandatory media session at the Super Bowl, Giantsdefensive end Osi Umenyiora apologized for his mistake and said he understands why he was docked so much money.
“If it was like a $1,000 fine or something like that, most of the people they will laugh at it,” Umenyiora said when he showed up for Thursday’s media session. “They wouldn’t even come downstairs and talk, but you make the fine substantial enough it is going to make people want to show up.
“It makes sense because the NFL is a business, you understand. Players are the product, and the fans are the customers. The only way that we can reach them is through you guys, the media, so we have to be responsible and speak to the people.”
Call it a bad off-the-field play from a guy who has spent nine seasons coming up with game-changing plays for the Giants.
And it’s no coincidence that New York’s run to Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots was fueled by Umenyiora’s return to the lineup from a sprained ankle for the playoff-deciding, regular-season finale against Dallas on Jan. 1. He had two sacks in that game, and has 3 ½ more and a forced fumble in the postseason.
For most of the 45-minute player availability, Umenyiora was asked how he could miss Wednesday’s media availability. He called it an honest mistake, saying he spent a couple of hours with his family, which had just arrived in town for the game. He thought the meeting was not mandatory because all the players took part in media day Tuesday.
“It cost me a lot of money, I am sorry about that,” Umenyiora said. “At the end of the day I don’t really know what I could have discussed with you guys between Tuesday’s media day and Wednesday morning. It is not like we had a practice or anything like that. At the end of the day, I understand why they did it and I am OK with it.”
In a week with little pizazz, Umenyiora’s absence qualified as big news.
“It is the Super Bowl man, I get it. I understand,” he said. “There is only so much (Rob) Gronkowski’s ankle and pressure on (Tom) Brady that we can talk about. You have to move on to something else. I just so happened to give people an outlet to talk about something else. I am dearly sorry for that.”
This isn’t the first time Umenyiora has caused a to-do. He complained about general manager Jerry Reese reneging on an alleged offer to re-work his contract after last season, in which he had 10 forced fumbles. After the labor dispute, the Giants gave Umenyiora’s agent permission to seek a trade, then quickly rescinded the offer.
But all is forgiven because Umenyiora makes plays, even with ankle and knee problems. He had nine sacks in nine games in the regular season, and is constantly attacking the quarterback, a major factor in the Giants’ late season run.
“The thing about Osi that has always made a great impression on me is, he’s going full speed,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “He sends the right message to everybody else.”
Coughlin wasn’t happy Umenyiora missed the media session, but didn’t go further than that. Reese said he accepted Umenyiora’s excuse and the issue is closed.
Umenyiora just wants to focus on Sunday’s game. He remembers the defensive line felt a need to put pressure on Brady in 2008, and nothing has changed four years later.
“As many times as possible,” Umenyiora said. “I think they are going to do a lot of things to try and prevent that, but at the end of the day, whenever we have our chance we are going to have to take it.”
And he likes the Giants’ chances.
“I feel like we are a good football team,” he said. “We know we are going up against a great opponent, but at the end of the day, we can beat anybody. We know we can beat anybody, and we are just going to go out there and play as hard as we can and see what happens.”
Fellow defensive end Dave Tollefson expects Umenyiora to come up big Sunday. He would not be surprised if No. 72 produced one of his trademark strip-sacks.
“Osi is a playmaker,” Tollefson said. “He makes plays, and I mean all the time.”
Giants’ Nicks, Webster, Williams all practice
INDIANAPOLIS — Running back Ahmad Bradshaw practiced for a second straight day and three other players were allowed to practice without restrictions as the New York Giants completed their second workout in Indiana in preparation for the Super Bowl on Thursday.
Cornerback Corey Webster (hamstring), wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (shoulder) and special-teamer/linebacker Jacquian Williams (foot) all practiced fully, according to a pool report. They were limited Wednesday.
Bradshaw, who has a broken bone in his right foot, and defensive end Osi Umenyiora (ankle/knee) were the only Giants who were limited in the 88-minute practice on the University of Indianapolis’ indoor practice field.
The report also said Eli Manning was sharp during passing drills.
Bradshaw, who hasn’t practiced on consecutive days since returning from his foot injury in early December, tripped going through the line on a running play early in the session. But he hopped up and was able to continue.
“It looked like he tripped over the fullback’s foot,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “But he’s fine.”
Coughlin said the team’s energy level, enthusiasm and excitement are obvious.
“They’re really excited to practice for the game,” Coughlin said. “I think they’ve done very well. This was a good day of preparation.”
Manning was sharp in the final two first-unit offensive possessions. He completed 10 of 11 throws in a two-minute drill held against the Giants’ first-team defense, moving the offense briskly downfield.
The play of the day came from Nicks early in the practice. He made a twisting, one-handed catch of a line drive from Manning on the left sideline, corralling the ball easily and turning upfield.
Coughlin said the Giants will not switch hotels Saturday night to a more secluded venue, which some teams often do to get away from the Super Bowl eve clamor. The Giants didn’t do it in their last Super Bowl under Coughlin four years ago either.
The Giants will practice at the university’s facility Friday, concentrating on short yardage, red zone and goal-line work. They will have a short walkthrough workout Saturday in their final prep work for Sunday’s game.