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Honest mistake turns out to be a 'big hit' for Umenyiora

UMENYIORA No distraction UMENYIORA No distraction
By Amalie Benjamin and Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / February 3, 2012
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INDIANAPOLIS - This time, Osi Umenyiora was a few minutes early for his scheduled meeting with the media. After missing a mandatory interview session Wednesday - and being fined $20,000 - the Giants defensive end explained it was simply an error.

“Honest mistake,’’ he said. “We just went through the whole Media Day the day before so I wasn’t exactly sure that this was going to be mandatory. So I went to go hang out with my family.

“It was a mistake, a costly one, but a mistake nonetheless.’’

The puzzling part was Umenyiora attended previous mandatory media sessions, and every one of his teammates and coaches were in attendance.

“We weren’t pleased with that, but Osi will participate and be there today,’’ coach Tom Coughlin said.

Umenyiora discovered he missed the session when he returned to the team hotel - where the interviews were taking place - at noon for a 12:15 team meeting.

He learned about the fine later in the day.

“It makes sense because the NFL’s a business,’’ he said of the fine. “Players are the product and the fans are the customers. The only way we can reach them is through you guys, the media. We have to be responsible.

“If it was a $1,000 fine, most of the people, they’ll laugh at that. They won’t even come downstairs and talk. You make the fine substantial enough it’s going to make people want to show up.’’

He added, “It is a big hit. I feed a lot of people. I am responsible for a lot of people. That money could have went to a really, really good cause. It is stupid to have to incur that type of fine for missing something as simple as this, but at the end of the day I didn’t know it was mandatory.’’

Given that Umenyiora and the Giants spent an hour talking to the media Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium, he said he was surprised there was another session without even a practice in between. He said he wasn’t sure what he would have talked about had he shown up.

Asked if it would be a distraction to the team, Umenyiora said, “It is a story, but you think these guys, coaches, nobody really cares because it is not like I missed anything team-related. It was Media Day. Obviously, no one wants to sit over here and answer questions about that, so that might be a distraction. It is a non-issue.’’

Everyone loves parade

In a week where party planning and pseudo-guarantees pass for trash talking, Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty added more to the pile when he told New York fans to get ready for a parade on Tuesday.

He was responding to comments Tom Brady made last Sunday in which he said he hoped to see more people at the Patriots’ victory celebration than there were at their Super Bowl send-off at Gillette Stadium.

The Giants brushed off Brady’s comments - linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka said he didn’t even consider it trash talk - and stood behind their teammate.

Defensive back Corey Webster boiled it down to common sense.

“He’s our teammate,’’ Webster said. “We’re going to back him up regardless. Everybody puts this on their schedule at the beginning of the season. The goal is to be in the Super Bowl and win the Super Bowl. Nobody’s showing up this weekend to lose the Super Bowl, so everybody has every right to go out, play hard, and win.’’

And believe they can win, that they will win.

“I think our belief, period, helps our defensive unit and helps our football team,’’ defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. “If we didn’t believe, we wouldn’t be here right now. Belief is a powerful thing.’’

Safety Antrel Rolle guaranteed a Giants victory earlier in the week, saying, “We’re going to win this thing.’’

Safety in numbers

When Giants safety Kenny Phillips was a senior year at Carol City High School in Miami, Rolle was in his last year at the University of Miami, and they developed a connection that’s grown now that they’re both in the Giants secondary.

“The first time I ever met Kenny, I was presenting him with a scholar-athlete award and here we are years later in the Super Bowl together,’’ Rolle said.

Rolle, a six-year veteran, signed with the Giants last summer and said the chance to be in the defensive backfield with Phillips, who has been with New York since 2008, played a part in his decision. They had six picks and 178 tackles combined this season.

“There’s a lot of pride,’’ Rolle said. “He wanted to be here, and I wanted to be here with him. So there’s a lot of credit to Kenny on that behalf. It’s a great feeling.’’

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