ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Giants have lost interest in the Jets, and some don’t even see Rex Ryan and his circus as their biggest rival.
The biggest exception: oft-entertaining punter Steve Weatherford.
The teams in the NFC East are the Giants’ biggest concern these days, and some members of the Super Bowl champions could care less about bragging rights when the teams meet in their annual preseason game at MetLife Stadium on Saturday.
Giants defensive captain Justin Tuck was so disgusted after listening to questions about the Jets, their new wildcat offense and Tebow-mania that he asked reporters on Monday whether they had any questions about the Giants.
“The last time I checked, I play for the Giants and I’ve only heard one question about the Giants,” Tuck said during lunch at training camp at the University at Albany. “I really don’t want to talk about the Jets.”
While they meet every preseason, the Giants and Jets play only once every four years in the regular season. The Giants’ 29-14 win over the Jets on Christmas Eve last season ignited a six-game win streak that carried Tom Coughlin’s team to its second Super Bowl in five seasons.
The Jets haven’t won an NFL title since Joe Namath led them to a championship in the third Super Bowl.
“For me – personally – the Jets are just another team that we play,” Tuck said. “I don’t think we have a rivalry with them. I really don’t. I know we have one with our division foes. But for the Jets, it’s just another game that we need to win.”
Not all the Giants (No. 3 in the AP Pro32) feel the same way.
Weatherford would like nothing better than to beat his former teammates.
“Maybe that’s because I used to wear that other jersey,” he said. “They share the city with us. And when you have bragging rights in your own city, especially in New York City, that’s a pretty big deal. Although getting a win in our division is worth one-and-a-half, beating the Jets is pretty sweet.”
Defensive end Osi Umenyiora said there is no question that the Jets are a good team.
“Us playing them, unless it’s like a Super Bowl game, it’s really not that big of a deal,” Umenyiora said. “I think definitely the NFC East is our biggest rival. You know, the Jets, anytime we play them, it’s good because we’re in the same city and same town. A lot of those guys we know and I respect them a lot, but as far as rivalry goes, it’s definitely (the) teams in the NFC East.”
Umenyiora tried to be diplomatic when asked about Ryan’s contention that the Jets play in the NFL’s toughest division, the AFC East.
“Rex is a great coach, man, and he’s been around the game for a while,” Umenyiora said. “He’s entitled to his own opinion. For him to say that, obviously you have New England in that division. You have Buffalo, who’s an up-and-coming team. You have the Jets. They have a very good conference, I mean division, but (the) NFC is perennially, every year, you know, the toughest division in football.
“That’s the way it remains this year.”
Linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka said any chance to play an in-state rival that shares the same stadium is always fun. He agreed with Tuck and Umenyiora that the NFC games impact the Giants’ season more, but he finds added incentive to face the Jets.
“We’re in the same city and visit the same places,” Kiwanuka said, “so you want to be able to be the best in your own town.”
The veteran linebacker also said he was looking forward to face Tim Tebow.
“He’s a gamer. He’s a guy who knows how to play. And we’ve got to be able to prepare for it,” Kiwanuka said. “Tebow-mania, it is what it is. We have a lot of Manias over here. We have Tuck-mania and Eli Manning, so we’re used to that kind of attention and that kind of fanfare.
“But for us, it’s just another game.”
Meanwhile, Tuck isn’t too worried about the Jets breaking out their secretive wildcat package.
“You definitely have to prepare for (Tebow) because he’s a dynamic player,” said Tuck. “But there ain’t too many things you can do out of the wildcat. It’s pretty simple when you think about it.”
Kicker Lawrence Tynes respects the Jets, saying they’ve had great success under Ryan.
“I consider them a rival,” Tynes said. “They’re an in-state, in-town team. There is a lot of passion on both sides and even though we don’t play them every four years.”
The game, of course, is going to have its biggest importance for the young players trying to make the rosters.
Victor Cruz started his fairy-tale career by making three touchdown catches against the Jets in 2010. Last season, he set a Giants’ single-season record for yards gained receiving.
Ryan said after that game if the Giants didn’t want Cruz, the Jets could take him.
It would have been a good move.
Are you with Weatherford or Tuck on this one? Be heard in the comments below!
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)