Steppin' to the AM: Prince signs and Pierce picks sides in Osi saga

August, 5, 2011
8/05/11
11:23
AM ET
Steppin' to the AM as we prepare for Friday's practice:

The Prince has signed finally and is expected to participate in his first practice.

And the Osi drama is still going full steam ahead.

Antonio Pierce isn’t that far removed from being the defensive captain of the New York Giants.

He visited the team earlier this week and spoke to several people in the organization as well. So Mike and Mike in the Morning decided to ask Pierce which side he is taking: Osi Umenyiora’s side or the Giants organization’s side?

“Being a former player, you understand where the guy is coming from,” Pierce said this morning. “But I think Osi missed an opportunity here. Back in 2008, Osi had an opportunity right there. Michael Strahan just retired, Justin Tuck just became what Justin Tuck is today. Mathias Kiwanuka was coming off injury. Osi was the man right then. He had the Giants by the throat. He decided not to play hard ball like he is doing now. He got injured.”

“It is kind of hard to say I am on Osi’s side,” he continued. “I understand it from the player’s side but from the ownership side they are doing the right thing. They understand that there are some medical issues with Osi and maybe he doesn’t have a lot of good years left with that health and his body. The guy is being very productive but Osi needs to make up his mind and say you know what, I might not go out there and get money like I think I can, I might not get this Charles Johnson money. Maybe I am going to settle for this seven or eight million I am going to make in the next two years.”

“Really I’m not on Osi’s side on this one. I think he should have stuck to his guns back in 2008. I think it’s a missed opportunity for him.”

Pierce, now an analyst for ESPN, believes both sides need to come to a resolution soon.

“It’s getting ugly,” Pierce said. “It’s a situation where it is going to become a distraction if it keeps going on. They are going to have to resolve this very quickly.”

The latest in the Umenyiora saga came on Thursday night when the team announced that the defensive end was not practicing due to what he says is a sore knee. The team pointed out that Umenyiora “says” it is a sore knee.

A source says Umenyiora has a meniscus issue that can be managed but the defensive end could opt for surgery as well that would keep him out likely for four-to-five weeks. It appears Umenyiora will not practice until his contract issue is resolved.

“Obviously by him holding out with the injury that he says is holding him out of practice and the Giants feel otherwise, that is going to create a problem,” Pierce said. “They are going to be patient. I really believe the Giants organization wants Osi there.”

But Pierce says the Giants need to make a decision soon to either pay him or trade Umenyiora.

“You got to look at the player, if he is going to become such a distraction like what happened in 2008 with Jeremy Shockey, where he felt like he was unwanted and wanted to get out of there,” Pierce said. “It took two incidents and a mini camp for him to really blow up and have a tirade in the locker room for them to finally decide right before training camp that we are going to trade this guy.”

“They are going to be patient,” he added of the Giants. “As soon as this starts getting a little bit too much for them to handle, Jerry Reese and Coach Coughlin are going to make the right decision for that team. To me at the end of the day, they are going to either trade Osi or release him. I don’t see him being in a New York uniform this year.”
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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