Osi: "Team first, team last, team everything"

September, 1, 2010
9/01/10
5:10
PM ET
Throughout training camp, Osi Umenyiora has been preaching team first.

The defensive end no longer was obsessed with starting and beating out Mathias Kiwanuka for his old job. He said he will accept any role the coaching staff wants him to fill. Kiwanuka recently said the same thing.

If anybody has any doubts about where Umenyiora’s head is at, they can take a look at his speech at the Giants annual kickoff luncheon on Wednesday.

Umenyiora was the defensive player selected to talk at the event which raises proceeds for the Touchdown Fund, a program that benefits children and cardiac and cancer care. And he delivered his unique take on the mindset of the Giants defense as the season approaches.

“If you have an opportunity to meet any elderly African people, or like me, growing up in an African household, you realize that they never answer questions straight,” Umenyiora said according to the team. “They answer with a riddle. For example, I’d ask my dad, ‘What time to do you want me to wake up in the morning?’ He’d say, ‘Waking up is very important, and the early bird will always catch the worm,’ and I’m like, ‘I’m five years old, give me a straight answer, please.’ I’ll say, ‘Dad, I need new shoes,’ and he’d say, ‘It’s obvious you need new shoes, but a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.’ ‘Man, what’s going on with you, dad?’”

“It’s very annoying, and I’m going to take this opportunity to be equally annoying to speak to you in riddles and parables,” Umenyiora continued. “I think in discussing the 2010 New York Giants, the one thing I would say is this: individually, the team is like stars, but the team is the sun. While we might all shine, when the sun comes up, we all disappear. I’m quite sure you Giants fans understand exactly what I’m talking about, but there are some players on our team who have no idea what I just said. I’ll say this again, and by the way, they’re all on defense. Individually, the team is like stars, but the team is the sun. While we might all shine, when the sun comes up, we all disappear. That’s the mantra this year: team first, team last, team everything. We will be physical, we will be aggressive, we will be a dominant football team.”

Umenyiora also took blame for his behavior last season which saw him bicker with former defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan and stew about being demoted.

“I would like to take this opportunity to personally apologize for everything that went down last year towards the end of the season,” he said. “That’s not the way we play, that’s not the way we are coached to play, and I can personally guarantee you that things like that will never happen again. If you ever look at an EKG machine when it’s hooked up to a human heart, you see it keeps going up and down and up and down, all that does is indicate that a person is alive. The minute it flat lines, that means they’re dead. This team is very much alive, and though last year was a down, this year we will be back up again.”
Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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