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Antonio Pierce: New York Giants Look “Mentally Drained”

December 22nd, 2012 at 11:30 AM
By Dan Benton

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to watch the New York Giants and see that they're mentally fatigued and have their minds in other places. So it really came as no shock when retired linebacker Antonio Pierce finally came out and said it earlier this week.

"They [are] mentally drained," Pierce told USA TODAY Sports. "No energy on defense. As a team, they haven't played with a lot of passion. Maybe a lot of emotion went in to making the run they did at the end of [last] season, Hurricane Sandy, and like the rest of the nation, feeling the effect affect of the Connecticut shooting, which directly impacted some players."

Having experienced the Giants' run right along with them (not on the field, of course), we at Giants 101 can understand the exhaustion. Like many of the players, we attend every single event, every single game, cover every practice and press conference, all charity-related events and endure the constant travel. Because of the Super Bowl victory, there has been no break … and we're exhausted. So imagine how the players, who are working hard and studying day in and day out on top of everything else, feel.

Those issues and that grueling schedule have only been compounded by Hurricane Sandy, which hit home (literally) for most players, and then the shootings in Newtown, CT – something that had a tremendous emotional effect on all of us.

"I agreed with him," Justin Tuck said of Pierce's comment. "That became a discussion between me and some people [the other day]."

The pulse of the team has obviously changed from a year ago. Anyone who interacts with these guys on any level can sense it … even us. And it's becoming more and more obvious as each week passes.

"Is everyone on board to make another run?" Pierce said. "Last year they said, 'All in.' Well, what is it this year? I haven't heard anything but, 'We have been here before.'"

This isn't to say they can't find a second wind, but, it's easy to understand why they're completely exhausted, both mentally and physically. And although it's obvious they want to win, they're also only human and capable of enduring just so much. The common reaction to that will undoubtedly be "Oh, poor guys. Rich, spoiled athletes playing a game for a living," but make no mistake about it, what they endure and have endured is unfathomable to most. The casual fan truly has no idea to what extent these guys are involved both on the field and off of it.

From a personal standpoint (and this is something we rarely to here at Giants 101), I can tell you firsthand that the grind has been brutal and nonstop. The travel is relentless, the events are continuous, practice and play offers no breaks, and the emotional beatdown courtesy of Hurricane Sandy and the events at Sandy Hook have only made it that much worse. I'll cheer for the Giants until I am blue in the face, and I would love nothing more than to see a repeat, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I was anxious for the season to be over so I (and the rest of our staff) could take a break.

Now put yourself in the position of a player. Damn right they are mentally drained.

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Tags: Antonio Pierce, Football, Justin Tuck, New York, New York Giants, NFL

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19 Responses to “Antonio Pierce: New York Giants Look “Mentally Drained””

  1.  demo3356 says:

    I think Pierce is spot on as he is in his assessment of Justin Tuck (Below from PFT). Somehow some way they better find a way to fix this or in two weeks they will get a nice long 7 month break for some R&R

    •  demo3356 says:

      For players who retire into the media, the biggest challenge comes from telling it like it is regarding guys who currently play the game.

      That challenge becomes even more, um, challenging when the player used to play with the player whose play he is criticizing.

      As it relates to Giants defensive lineman Justin Tuck, former Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce passes the test.

      “I played with Justin Tuck and have a tremendous respect for him,” Pierce said on Friday’s edition of The Michael Kay Show. “But he has not been the same player emotionally, mentally or his play in the last three years. It’s just the facts. He came on late last season and once Antrel Rolle and a couple of other guys said he had to pick it up, but for the most part, he’s a situation, third-down, passing situation defensive end.”

      Pierce doesn’t know why Tuck has changed as a player.

      “When you watch him on Sundays, you do not see the energy, you do not see the fire he used to play with,” Pierce said. “And I don’t know why. I don’t know if it’s personal stuff going on or maybe he’s physically tired.”

      Complicating matters for Tuck is that he currently has a shoulder injury. “For me, the guy I played with, when he was there, a lot of energy, a lot of passion, brought it each and every play, each and every snap, loved to play the game,” Pierce said. “I heard him mention it last year before the run [that] he didn’t know where his mind was at, or if he was into the game. His comments this week, the same thing. As much as I want to give the answer, that’s really a question he has to answer.”

      We’ve got a feeling that Tuck soon will be asked the question.

  2.  Eric S says:

    The Giants fact of the day is wrong. Brandon Jacobs is the Giants franchise leader with 56 rushing touchdowns. Give the big guy his due :)

  3.  Dirt says:

    Just read something scary in Bill Simmons’ mailbag:

    If Dallas loses tomorrow, they likely miss the playoffs and fire Garrett. If that happens, they likely get Sean Payton.

    Dallas plays Payton’s would-be-former team.

    No way Brees lights up the Cowboys, to ensure the Cowboys have their best chance at keeping their hands off his coach.

  4.  James Stoll says:

    One potentially good omen for tomorrow is that it will be the first game all season I’ve been able to watch with my son who returns from college today

  5.  rlhjr says:

    It’s hard dying a long protracted death. It’s also very hard to play the extended season (playoff and super bowl) and follow it up with a similar performance. That why only a few teams have every really done it, let alone come close. The free agent era has taken care of most teams ever building any depth of the type that will allow for two or three extended seasons in a row.

    The physical strain of playing extra games is mind numbing. Especially when you consider the competition is every bit as big strong and fast.

    (AND THE OWNERS ARE BRIGHT ENOUGH TO WANT MORE GAMES AND EXPANDED PLAYOFFS)

    Also, the fact that not every player (no matter how talented) has the same mental strength to hold up under the pressure of doing your best in adverse situations. Because adversity is what you face every step along the way to greatness.

    It takes a nucleus of great (not good) players. Five or six on defense and offense. Not just physically great, but mentally great as well.
    It did in the past, and it will in the future. The question is how to get a hold of players like that and not break the bank. It takes a special scouting department.

    In fact, just to get to the playoffs three years in a row is an accomplishment.
    Injury, lack of depth and leadership (on and off field) are imposable to overcome. As I’ve stated “And a child shall lead them”.

    The younger players don’t know any better. They have no idea (like JPP last year) that failure is even an option. And I should say “TALENTED” young players. The Giants have a few to work with. But are they playing the positions key to changing the Giants fortunes?

  6.  Dirt says:

    Some of you guys were spot on: a bye week to recharge the batteries would have been terrible for these guys.

  7.  kujo says:

    Never liked Pierce, but he is dead on here.

  8.  Dirt says:

    @ProFootballTalk: Ray Lewis not expected back before the playoffs http://t.co/Rdts8rJz via @RapSheet

  9.  kujo says:

    Tuck traveled with the team and will be a gametime decision. Only person ruled out so far is Beckum.

  10.  Valid says:

    All this talk is exactly what the Giants need. All we’ve heard all week is how lifeless they looked against Atlanta, how just because last year happened doesn’t mean it will happen this year, etc. Some of the talk is even occurring amongst the players themselves.

    I just cannot see the Giants coming out and losing this game this weekend with all of the yammering that has been going on. Their pride is being openly questioned, and I would be stunned if we didn’t see a very positive response to such accusations on Sunday.

    I have been going back and forth on this game all week. At first I was thinking a blowout in favor of the Giants, and then I started thinking it would be a game that goes down to the wire with the Giants pulling it out in the end. Now, I’m feeling very confident that Big Blue will win convincingly.

    I’m not saying they’ll win by three touchdowns, because the Ravens are really playing for their pride at this point too, but I think the Giants are better than Baltimore and I think they are mentally tougher. I think Eli will come out and act like he has something to prove (even though he doesn’t). I think we will see a very inspired effort from the defensive line whether Tuck plays or not.

    Most of all, I think we will see an energized group that is ready to begin its run in re-assuming its position at the top of the NFL totem pole.

    34-23 Giants.

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