Ben McAdoo showed up to New York Giants minicamp in June sporting a head-turning new hairdo.
When asked by the assembled media about the slicked-back ’do, the head coach was playful. “Got to keep you all on your toes. Got to keep it fresh, right?”
With regard to keeping everyone on their toes, McAdoo was true to his word this fall. But nothing about these Giants was fresh. Not their 2-10 record, not the multiple team-issued player suspensions, and especially not the handling of Eli Manning’s demotion last week.
On the contrary, everything about the 2017 season has been pretty rotten. That’s why owners John Mara and Steve Tisch couldn’t stomach another four weeks of McAdoo and sent him and longtime general manager Jerry Reese home for good Monday, with Mara calling a delay of the move until after the season “pointless.”
Mara said the Manning debacle had “no effect” on the timing of the decision. Forgive me for being dubious. Even as losses mounted and locker room turmoil manifested in the one-game bans of starting cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins, ownership had maintained no changes were coming before the end of the season. They even said so last month, with the team at 1-8.
Regardless of what Mara says, most observers will point to the Manning debacle as McAdoo’s coup de grace. It wasn’t so much that he had pulled the franchise quarterback. If the coach earnestly wanted to evaluate his quarterbacks for next season, he has the right. But to make an insulting offer to let Manning continue to start before ceding second-half time to Geno Smith? That would imply Manning might care more about his 210 consecutive starts than his team’s success. He’s so classy that he actually called McAdoo’s haircut “outstanding.” That’s a team player.
The calamitous move was universally panned. Fans hated it. Pundits trashed it. Quarterback peers including the Los Angeles Chargers’ Philip Rivers dubbed the Giants’ handling of the ordeal “pathetic.”
Word from multiple outlets is Manning will be back under center this Sunday when the Giants and interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo host the Dallas Cowboys. He may remain in that role through the end of this miserable season, but top-to-bottom changes loom in East Rutherford, New Jersey. In the coming months, everyone in the organization better stay on their toes.