It is not a big deal. But it is more than no deal.
Everyone, it seems, wants it their own way when it comes to assessing the terribleness or triviality of Kadarius Toney choosing not to participate, thus far, in the Giants’ offseason workout program.
To review: There were two weeks in Phase 1, consisting primarily of strength and conditioning but also the handing out of the new playbooks. This week, there was a three-day minicamp, ending on Thursday, with drills and full-team work on the field, including seven-on-seven offensive versus defense. No pads and no contact, of course, but plenty of competitive situations.
This is all voluntary, which means no one can be fined or punished or quietly reprimanded for not showing up. Toney, entering his second NFL season, is not on the scene.
Before anyone gets high and mighty and cries out for the rights of the player or gets indignant about a 23-year-old turning his back on his team, how about a modicum of common sense?
Anyone who has ever earned a dime in the workforce knows – or should know – the dynamics and politics of life as an employee. Sometimes (often) you have to do things you prefer not to do. Sometimes what you are asked to do does not seem equitable. Sometimes (often) you think you know a better way to do it than the way the boss tells you to do it. Sometimes you realize showing up exactly on time is not getting you anywhere, so you make an effort to arrive a few minutes earlier than your co-workers. Sometimes you play it smart about getting ahead and do more than what is required, hoping to gain a few positive check-mark chits down the road.
And, sometimes when there are new people running the office, you try to go above and beyond to gain a foothold and make a strong first impression.
There are no doomsday proclamations here, but there is no way Toney not attending this week’s minicamp is a good thing for him or the Giants. Only a handful of players did not participate, and not everyone’s circumstance is alike. Clearly, Toney does not believe it is incumbent upon him at this particular time to get in the good graces of Brian Daboll and the new coaching staff
“I feel like it’s very shortsighted,” Amani Toomer, the leading receiver in Giants history, told The Post on Thursday. “Especially with a new coach and a whole new staff. I would tell him, ‘Get your butt in.’ … I wouldn’t say, ‘Get your butt in.’ … I’d say, ‘I think it’s a great idea for you to get to know everybody around you so not only can you feel comfortable with them, they can start to feel comfortable around you.’ You don’t want people’s mind racing, wondering where your mind’s at. ”
While playing for the Giants, Toomer’s high-profile teammates, Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey, did not show up for the offseason regimen. The Giants wanted these players around but knew they would be in shape and ready to produce once they arrived.
“If you’re a veteran and you know the system and you know everything, you don’t have to show up,” Toomer said. “Toney is not a veteran. He doesn’t know how to play in this league yet. Somebody who says, ‘Dude, lighten up, it’s voluntary,’ does not understand the NFL. Nothing’s voluntary. It’s voluntary you go out there every day and prove what you can do. “
For those who point to Daboll’s tepid reaction to Toney’s absence as evidence the first-year head coach is cool with this no-show, forget it. He stressed, more than once, “this is a voluntary camp,” but he would not dismiss the importance of what is taking place at the team facility.
When club officials stray from this rhetoric, they get slapped down. Two years ago, the NFL sent a letter to Tom Coughlin, then the Jaguars’ executive vice president of football operations, warning him to cease and desist. Coughlin’s indiscretion? He said he was disappointed not every player was participating in the offseason workout program. At the time, the just two Jaguars players not in attendance were star cornerback Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Tevin Smith.
“Those who have given everything to them become lazy, selfish and insensitive to the real values of ‘team,’ ‘Coughlin, the former Giants’ two-time Super Bowl-winning coach, said at the time. “It’s not about rights and privileges. It’s about obligations and responsibility, and the question is, ‘Can we count on you?’ ”
The giants don’t know if they can count on Toney. His rookie season was turbulent – too-often injured, containing scant teases as to his immense physical ability. If he feels urgency to take a quantum leap forward, staying away from the team is an unusual way to express these feelings. All this might be rendered moot in a few months if Toney is killing it in training camp. But for the here and now, he is not helping himself, or his team.
“When this thing goes down and people start to turn on you, don’t be like, ‘I didn’t know, why are they so mean to me?’ Toomer said. “You’re not giving yourself any wiggle room, basically.
“Bottom line, if I have a new coach, I’m there every day.”
Bottom line, Toney has not been there, any day.