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NFL announcers remain silent as players look like fools


If there was one team in town that was granted unconditional love, the kind passed to three, four generations, it was the Giants, once known as the New York…
If there was one team in town that was granted unconditional love, the kind passed to three, four generations, it was the Giants, once known as the New York Football Giants for both emphasis and to avoid confusion with the baseball team that shared the Polo Grounds.
There was no number of losing teams, strange selections of head coaches, stranger play-calling and geographical inconveniences that could diminish Giants’ fans’ devotion.
Almost as if in an Old Testament sojourn, they followed the Giants from the Polo Grounds to Yankee Stadium, then the schlep to the Yale Bowl, then Shea Stadium — the latter two while Giants’ Stadium was being built — and now to PSL Stadium, where remaining an on-site fan demands lots of money, patience and a willingness to arrive home at 1 a.m.
But now we see, read, hear and feel an erosion of the faithful, not solely based on an 0-2 start, but as a matter of compromised dignity. As have too many teams, the Giants have become a test of the better senses.
Rooting for an Odell Beckham Jr., for example, means hoping he won’t try to spike the ball to begin one of his lengthy, TV-loves-it, all-about-me routines until his touchdown catch has been ruled one. That foolishly premature move cost the Giants a November 2015 win against the Patriots, though it didn’t cost Beckham a dime in endorsements. TV and advertisers reward and promote the most selfish and immodest among the talented.
Last season, after the season, then before the start of this season, the unconditional love of Beckham continued to erode as he continued to make it clear that he is sticking with his plan to remain stuck on himself.
Let’s now visit Elvin Bethea, the great Houston Oilers defensive tackle. Before his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame he admitted he no longer watches NFL games because all the post-play showboating and hassles resemble “pro wrestling.”
That was in 2003. In 2017, Commissioner Roger Goodell actually has encouraged more garbage as a matter of “spontaneous fun,” including the contrived kind, more rehearsed than plays in the playbook.
So in the second quarter of Monday night’s game against Detroit, rookie tight end Evan Engram, college man — former captain of Ole Miss — caught his first NFL touchdown then did a groin-thrusting me-dance ending with him standing at attention while conspicuously and vulgarly cupping his crotch.
Though the Giants were penalized 15 yards for Engram’s conduct, and though it appeared once live and then in a replay, ESPN’s Sean McDonough only noted that Engram had been flagged “for unsportsmanlike conduct” while Jon Gruden was too busy gushing over Engram’s “vertical presence.” (“Vertical,” I think, was once spoken and accurately described as “downfield.”)
But there seems to be a conspiracy of silence among broadcasters to not offend the most offensive.
The evening before, CBS’ Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts found the fun in Marshawn Lynch’s fine for making obscene gestures during the Raiders’ opener. And, of course, no mention that Lynch is a recidivist stain on the game, having twice before been sanctioned for grabbing his genitals after scoring.
And what about Engram? What was he thinking? Why was he eager to claim the fact that his first NFL TD was followed by a penalty for acting like a pornographic pig?
It isn’t just a question of why he would do that to his team, its fans, a national TV audience; but why he would do that to himself? And unless they missed what we couldn’t, why wasn’t that question asked by ESPN’s announcers?
Making matters worse, Engram later told a demonstrable lie, claiming his behavior — the penalty helped the Lions start their next possession at the Giants’ 45 — was “accidental.”
Moments after Engram’s act of vandalism, Jason Pierre-Paul, identified as a veteran leader despite losing half-a-season and nearly a hand in an adolescent pursuit — playing with fireworks — sacked Lions QB Matthew Stafford, then, as seen on an ESPN isolated tape, launched into an all-about me war dance.
But Pierre-Paul was too busy patting himself on the back to notice he had stripped the ball from Stafford — the fumbled ball was up for grabs. Having caused and been closest to the free ball, Pierre-Paul vacated the scene for all-alone space to best be seen performing a how-great-I-art routine.
And what again was impossible to miss again went unspoken on ESPN.
Giants coach Ben McAdoo, like most NFL head coaches, didn’t seem the least upset about another loss laced with inane self-destruction. Perhaps, he, too, didn’t want to offend the offenders — or take blame for such preventable indiscipline. Perhaps that is what it now means to be “a players’ coach.”
The game — the way the Giants behaved, the way the can’t-miss-it stupid was silently indulged on TV, the way the postgame interviews played out — was tough for the Giants’ unconditionally devoted to take, the latest in an ongoing series of unrequited love.
As Mom used to say: It’s the little things that often say the most about people.
In 2013, the Rangers’ Ryan Callahan and the Flyers’ Maxime Talbot squared to fight, one that didn’t quite get started as Callahan’s “upper body,” as they say in the NHL, suddenly was seized by agonizing pain.
Talbot immediately stepped back and signaled to the Rangers’ bench for the trainer. Talbot’s no longer in the NHL, but that scene sticks.
Wednesday at Yankee Stadium, Didi Gregorius hit a long home run to right. In starting to run toward first, he tossed — not flipped — his bat behind him. It hit Twins catcher Jason Castro.
Gregorius halted, trotted back toward Castro then briefly spoke to him while patting him on the shoulder, before restarting his HR trot. Clearly, Gregorius wanted Castro to know it was accidental and to ask if he was OK.
On YES, Paul O’Neill testified he never before had seen anything quite like that. Given the way the sports winds continue to gust, it is unlikely he ever will again.
Before WFAN, Craig Carton co-hosted a go-low afternoon show on NJ 101.5 FM, a talkers-and-callers station that never had featured such content.
During Carton’s stay, dignified veteran Jim Gearhart was 101.

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