Forum Spin Doctor
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Losing isn't the only thing contagious on the New York Giants these days. Blowups are just as popular, and Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan on Wednesday joined the ranks of Jeremy Shockey and Tiki Barber in mouthing off in what is quickly becoming a season of frustration for the team.
Unlike Shockey and Barber, who criticized coach Tom Coughlin and his staff following losses earlier this season, Strahan did his best to intimidate an ESPN reporter who attempted to question him about comments he made on radio Monday about receiver Plaxico Burress quitting on plays.
Strahan, sidelined the last three weeks with a foot injury, called out Kelly Naqi, ESPN's New York-based reporter, as she stood behind about three dozen members of the media trying to question him.
"Come here, I want to see your face when you ask this question, the way you are going to ask it," Strahan said. "I know you are going to ask it in a way there is more division and more of a negative way than it was, so come here, I want to see your face, please."
Strahan then asked the media to clear a path so he could see Naqi.
"You're a responsible journalist, look me in the eye and ask this question the way you want to ask it," said Strahan, who only came into the locker room after being told by the public relations staff that Naqi was questioning his teammates about his comments. "Look a man in the eye before you try to kill him or make up something."
Naqi then asked Strahan whether he had spoken with Burress since his comments, which came before the Giants held a players' only meeting on Monday following a heart-breaking 24-21 loss to Tennessee. The setback was New York's third straight, and came in a game in which it blew a 21-0 fourth-quarter lead.
The Tennessee comeback started after Burress gave up on a deep fourth-quarter pass by Eli Manning and Adam "Pacman" Jones intercepted. It was at least the second time this season Burress quit on a play.
"It's a shame," Strahan said on the radio Monday. "You can't give up. You can't quit, because you're not quitting on yourself, you're quitting on everybody. I don't quite understand what his lack of motivation is in those types of situations. But I'm going to try to see what it is, and if I can talk to him about it. He's too good for that."
Strahan got snippy after Naqi questioned him about talking to Burress.
"I haven't spoken to you about it," he said. "I have spoken to Plaxico. I spoke to Plaxico in the team meeting, as well."
Naqi said she was surprised by Strahan's tone.
"I just felt like I was doing my job," Naqi said.
Burress on Wednesday said he was unaware of Strahan's comments.
"I haven't had a conversation with him," Burress said. "If that's the way he feels, hey, I don't talk about my teammates. If that's the way he feels, then that's the way he feels. I know what my motivation is. If that's the way he feels, then that's sad."
Strahan insisted that Burress' mistakes didn't cost the Giants the game against Tennessee, and neither did Manning's late interception, nor rookie Mathias Kiwanuka's failure to finish a fourth-down sack against Vince Young in the closing minutes.
"The fact of the matter is we are 6-5," Strahan said. "We have lost three games in a row. What do you want us to do, put our head down and run to a corner? We don't do that. We're men. We get back, we practice hard. We prepare to play to win. We don't prepare to come in and have someone who wants to take a comment and try to divide teammates in a way that it just disrupts this team.
"We don't have that division," Strahan added. "So if you want to come here with a negative, you are coming to the wrong guy, because I am not a negative guy. I don't kill my teammates. I'm a man and I talk to my teammates."
Strahan then ranted about the media only wanting to write negative stories to sell newspapers.
"The only thing that bothers me is the fact that you mislead people outside of this locker room when you guys spend more time with us than we damn near spend with ourselves sometimes, and that's a shame," Strahan said.
With that, Strahan said he was finished and had to prepare for the Cowboys. He has been listed as doubtful for Sunday matchup for the NFC East lead.
"If you are going to be negative, be negative because if you think it bothers me I don't give a damn what you write," Strahan said.
The one piece of good news the Giants got Wednesday was that All-Pro defensive end Osi Umenyiora and weakside linebacker Brandon Short both practiced Wednesday. They were both hurt in a win at Dallas and have missed the last five games.