Zac’s Note: This was first published on my Examiner page.
It’s been an odd and at times rough six months for New York Giants’ wide receivers. Things got even more strange yesterday, however, when Amani Toomer told the world what most of us already assumed; that his career with the New York Giants had come to an end. The way he announced it, however, was very un-Toomer-like.
The New York Daily News (and numerous other outlets) reported that Toomer told reporters that he was being “phased out” of the New York offense. Toomer went on to say
“They tried to do it earlier in the season, but I kept playing well and keeping myself in the mix. They let me play myself out of it, then kind of pulled the rug out from under me. I was fighting it. I was fighting it for as long as I could. I kept making big plays and I felt like if they kept throwing to me, I’d keep making big plays. But I feel like they made a decision that, ‘Look, we can’t keep him sticking around. We’ve got to turn the page. We can’t just keep letting him go on and on.'”
Basically, Toomer accused quarterback Eli Manning, head coach Tom Coughlin and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride of purposely keeping the ball away from him during the end of the season when the Giants were in a tailspin and were fighting for the number one playoff spot in the NFC.
Things got even more interesting on Wednesday night, when an interview with Toomer appeared on the wide receiver’s blog. In this interview, Toomer stated that he “absolutely did not intend to criticize nor did I criticize the coaching staff’s game plans.” Toomer went on to say “I’ve been a Giant all of my career and I think it’s a great organization so naturally I want to end my career as a Giant. I also love the Giants fans. They’ve always been great to me and I really enjoy playing for them.” He did add, however, the he only wanted to come back if he “had a role in the offense.”
I’m not 100 percent sure what that’s supposed to mean. Toomer finished the 2008 campaign with 48 catches and four touchdowns. Even with Burress missing about half of the season, those numbers are about what I expected from Toomer this season. Toomer, who hasn’t been the number one receiver for the Giants since Plax’s arrival, also had to share targets with Steve Smith, Dominek Hixon and even Kevin Boss.
Amani Toomer is the greatest wide receiver in the history of the Giants. He is the franchise leader in catches (668), yards (9497) and touchdowns (54). Toomer is also a fan favorite, so much so that many fans neglect to see that Steve Smith is fully capable and ready to move into the number two spot on the depth chart. Even if Plaxico Burress doesn’t return to the Giants next year, Big Blue will replace him with somebody who didn’t play for New York last year. That player (or Burress) will assume the top spot with Steve Smith right behind him.
I would love for Toomer to come back and play one or two more seasons with the Giants as a number three wide-out. Toomer made a handful of big plays during 2008 and could do so again next year. He is also the quintessential possession receiver, a role perfect for a number three receiver. Besides, who would you rather have to work with Smith, Hixon, Mario Manningham and a possible draft pick? If Amani Toomer believes, however, that he is going to finish next season with 70 catches, it may very well be time for Toomer and the Giants to part ways.
Toomer has played for the Giants in each of his 13 seasons of his NFL career. Much as he stated in his blog, I would love for Toomer to go out as a Giant and then watch as his number gets retired at the new Giants Stadium (or whatever it’s going to be called). For that to occur, though, Toomer may have to swallow his pride and realize that the Giants would be fine without him, especially if Burress does return to the team.