The number of things that almost didn't happen for this year's New York Giants is astounding. Osi Umenyiora making big plays in playoff games is among them. Remember back last summer, when Umenyiora was calling Giants GM Jerry Reese a liar in a sworn affidavit and asking (and getting) permission to seek a trade? Once Jason Pierre-Paul hit it big early in the season, how many of us expected Umenyiora to be a factor during another surprise Super Bowl run?
But he is, and as he told Mike Lupica over the weekend, he's glad the Giants didn't get rid of him when he was trying to give them every possible reason to do so:
"But it never reached the point of no return," he was saying on Saturday afternoon. "It was business with me and business with them. But I never felt it was personal and I never felt they did, either. I always felt that the people in charge had genuine affection for me."
He said, "And no matter what was happening, first with the contract and then with the injuries, I never lost confidence in myself. The whole time, I had confidence that once I got healthy I could be the same player I always was."
The last part was never in dispute. When Umenyiora is healthy and on the field, he simply makes plays other people can't and don't make. But it's the first part of the quote that caught my attention, and it says something about the way the Giants operate that they didn't act out of emotion or anger when Umenyiora was making them look bad. They were never going to trade him for less than what they considered fair value for a player of his talents. They believed he would not be a disruptive locker room force because they believed in the emotional strength of their locker room and their coaching staff. Pierre-Paul's emergence obviously helped their position, but they stayed calm and sober and did things their way, and it worked out in the end. It's kind of the story of their season in microcosm.
What will happen this coming offseason with Umenyiora? Hard to say. He's got one year left on his deal and is affordable, but he clearly isn't happy with the contract and he'll surely let everyone know that again. If he has a big game in the Super Bowl and gets through it healthy, it might make sense to trade him while his value is high. But right now, neither Umenyiora nor the Giants care about that. That's a next-week problem. Right now, everyone's just happy things worked out the way they did.