Giants general manager Dave Gettleman

USA TODAY Images

Palladino: GM's Cancer Fight Should Serve As Lesson For Rest Of Team

Will Remain Involved In On-Field Matters

Ernie Palladino
June 08, 2018 - 3:35 pm
Categories: 

The Giants ended the voluntary workout part of the offseason this week, and now the only thing standing between them and training camp is next week’s three-day mandatory minicamp.

That in itself comes as hardly earth-shaking news. But when reality pokes its head into the fun and games of sports, the situation grows somber real fast. In the Giants’ case, general manager Dave Gettleman’s cancer diagnosis has cast a dark cloud over whatever transpires on the field.

And yet, it is through that fight that Gettleman may just prove himself as tough as any player on that roster. Players can take a cue from him when the going gets rough. Indeed, he has already told ownership that if they ever expected him to shrink away silently, they have another thing coming to them.

As anyone it touches knows, cancer in all its forms is a lousy, scary deal. Treatment isn’t fun. But judging by the 67-year-old Gettleman’s public comments, he’s ready to meet his tussle with lymphoma head-on, with a positive and feisty attitude. That’s a good thing, considering much of any fight against cancer is waged as much between the ears as with any of the advanced pharmaceuticals he’ll receive.

The good news for the organization is that he plans to remain involved, which means the business end will continue to run as planned. He has the supporting cast to handle what he can’t, a staff that includes head coach Pat Shurmur and long-time assistant GM Kevin Abrams, who conducts many of the team’s contract negotiations anyway.

That means Gettleman’s situation should not relegate the Odell Beckham, Jr. situation to an afterthought. As Gettleman and co-owner John Mara have said before, Beckham’s contract will get done when it gets done. Bet Gettleman will have a big say in the size, or even the existence, of said contract even as he’s taking treatment thanks to the wonders of the cell phone.

On-field matters of course fall under Shurmur’s command, and he’ll be plenty occupied getting his new offensive line primed for training camp. Free agent tackle Nate Solder has already taken a leadership position, and second-round guard Will Hernandez is more than eager to team with Solder on the left side to provide a power blocking scheme for No. 2 overall running back Saquon Barkley.

Moreover, the big hope is that the new protectors will enable Eli Manning to look more like the quarterback who produced two Lombardi Trophies for the franchise, and not the besieged signal caller dogged by an injured receiving corps and an incompetent head coach of last season.

The defense will also get a good look, especially former Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree. New defensive coordinator James Bettcher plans on going heavy on the 3-4 fronts, and Ogletree has the speed to chase down running backs from an inside position.

Also drawing scrutiny will be cornerback Eli Apple, an attitudinal problem last year along with Janoris Jenkins and the since-departed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. This is where Apple can truly begin to show he’s taken advantage of the clean slate Shurmur’s hiring afforded him and actually grow from a childish, tantrum-and-mistake-prone liability into a true first-round talent.

Gettleman’s situation will overshadow all of this. But the way he’ll handle his plight might just become a lesson in toughness -- mental and physical -- for the Giants to heed.

In the end, he might well earn a reputation as the baddest Giant of them all.

Follow Ernie on Twitter at @ErniePalladino