By Ernie Palladino
Read more columns
Well, “Goodfellas” it wasn’t.
But the damage Jason Pierre-Paul could have inflicted on Prince Amukamara when he dumped the cornerback into a cold tub might have equaled anything one of those wise guys might have thought up for an overdue borrower of funds.
Thanks to punter Steve Weatherford’s camera work and awareness of social media’s ability to reach many people quickly, the training camp incident went out on Twitter and caused a huge amount of embarrassment for an otherwise buttoned-up franchise.
However, Tom Coughlin, obviously angry over Weatherford’s obvious attempt to overtake Martin Scorsese as America’s premier filmmaker, should be even angrier at his freakish defensive end.
Aside from the bad message it sends about bullying and hazing, the bottom line is that Pierre-Paul could have hurt Amukamara. We’re not talking about malicious injury here, but injury nonetheless at a position that doesn’t need another one.
Had Pierre-Paul stopped a moment to think, as if that’s a common event in rowdy situations like this, he might have remembered that the cornerback spot has already lost one starter, Terrell Thomas, for at least part of a second straight season, with a partial tear of the same ACL that cost him the entire 2011 season.
He might also have considered that Amukamara, who missed 10 games as a rookie with a broken foot and never approached a playing level becoming of a first-round pick, is now the right-side starter, there by default after the team let Aaron Ross go to Jacksonville as a free agent.
What if he dropped Amukamara on his head? Worse, what if the cornerback slammed his foot and something went “snap?”
Besides the social implications of having racial and profane taunts spewed all over Twitter, to be viewed by apparent hordes of Tweeties, Pierre-Paul could have put Coughlin and Perry Fewell in a major fix. They might have ended up using Michael Coe there against Dallas. Or Antwaun Molden. Neither choice would have been preferable over Amukamara.
At least Coughlin can be thankful the 278-pound Pierre-Paul stayed on his side of the ball when he decided to hoist Amukamara’s 207 pounds across his back. Had he picked on a wide receiver like, oh, Hakeem Nicks, there would have been true misery to pay.
Thankfully, Nicks was on the Physically Unable To Perform list at the time, putting him in what was probably a safer locale, like the training room. But having returned to practice Monday for the first time since breaking his foot in the spring, he should probably stay clear of any other teammate who looks like he’s about to have one of those rocket-scientist moments.
Then again, Nicks isn’t a rookie. But Amukamara thought he wasn’t, either, until informed that everybody’s a rookie until they play in the first three games of the year.
Each players’ answers to media inquiries Monday were innocuous enough. But reading between the lines, one might wonder if there was something more to this than just old-fashioned horseplay. Especially in Pierre-Paul’s assertion that the team knows the genesis of the incident. It indicates that all may not be well in the Giants’ “family,” what with Pierre-Paul acting more like a disaffected cousin than a brother, as he and Amukamara contend.
If Coughlin hasn’t fined Pierre-Paul yet, he should. Not just for damaging the franchise’s reputation and setting all the anti-bullying and anti-hazing campaigns back a step, but for sheer stupidity.
And while he’s at it, he might consider taking a few sheckles out of Weatherford’s pocket, too.
For lousy filmmaking. Grainy. Blurry. One-dimensional.
Scorsese he ain’t.
Do you think this incident was a lapse in judgment or is being way overblown? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …