Umenyiora back on practice field
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- An embarrassed Osi Umenyiora said he overreacted when he walked out of practice on Monday -- and he's paying for it.
The two-time Pro Bowl defensive end with the New York Giants acknowledged he had a minor tiff with his new defensive coordinator, but said his decision to skip practice was probably the worst thing he has done in his NFL career.
Umenyiora on Tuesday declined to disclose the nature of his disagreement with coordinator Bill Sheridan, saying only the issue that set him off was "minuscule" and never should have escalated.
The Giants fined Umenyiora an undisclosed amount of money that the player said would feed a lot of people in undeveloped countries.
"Do I regret it? Absolutely," Umenyiora said after practice on Tuesday. "It was a very, very bad moral decision on my part and an even worse financial decision on my part. So everything is cool now. I talked to who I needed to talk to and apologized to those I had to apologize to. It was so stupid and trivial for me to do that. Sometimes when you get emotional, things happen like that."
Umenyiora and Sheridan, the linebackers coach who was elevated to defensive coordinator after Steve Spagnuolo was hired as coach of the St. Louis Rams, have known each other for five years.
I promise you, I never would have stepped out of this building if I would have known the repercussions. The text messages and people thinking I was dead. I didn't know it would turn into that, but it did. I know better . . . I am not going to repeat nothing like that every again.” -- Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora
"It's not like he just got here," Umenyiora said. "He has been here a while and I have known him forever. This is not the first time I've had a conversation with him, it's just so happened that this was the first time I took it that way and it is going to be the last time."
The Giants did not make Sheridan available for comment on Tuesday.
Coach Tom Coughlin believed the issue was resolved after Umenyiora talked with Sheridan and defensive line coach Mike Waufle.
"I'm very confident it won't happen again," Coughlin said.
Umenyiora, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, attended team meetings on Monday morning and obviously was upset with something Sheridan said.
When the team went out to practice, Umenyiora was gone and Coughlin did not know why.
General manager Jerry Reese eventually reached Umenyiora by text message to make sure he was all right.
By that time, Umenyiora said he had returned to team headquarters, where he waited out practice. He later met with the coaches.
"It is not in my character to behave that way," said Umenyiora, who had six sacks against the Eagles in a game in 2007. "I have never behaved that way, and I don't plan on behaving that way again."
What surprised Umenyiora was the publicity the walkout generated.
"I promise you I never would have stepped out of this building if would have known the repercussions," he said. "The text messages and people thinking I was dead. I didn't know it would turn into that, but it did. I know better. I think everybody is allowed one mistake, and this is my one big mistake. I am not going to repeat nothing like that every again."
Fellow defensive end Justin Tuck said players frequently argue with coaches.
"That's one of the reasons the D-line room is so chaotic," Tuck said. "Waufle encourages them. We have them daily with him. This is possibly the biggest and the first with the defensive coordinator."
Teammates, of course, didn't let Umenyiora forget it.
When he reported to the locker room on Tuesday, he said there were wanted signs for him, offering a $1 million reward. Had the players had time, his face also would have been on milk cartons.
As Tuck was talking to the media, he noticed Umenyiora walking out of the locker room.
"Oosh, you weren't here yesterday?" a laughing Tuck said. "Where did you go?"
When the laughter stopped, Tuck got serious about a Giants team that endured a major distraction last season after Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg at a Manhattan nightclub.
"We are pretty good with incidents that might seem to be a distraction to this football team," he said. "I honestly think the incidents bring us closer together. We chalk it up and have some laughs about it, talk about it, have the serious part of the conversation first and then the rest, it's kind of like laughing. That's the way we are, understanding that sometimes, things can escalate bigger than what was intended to begin with."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
MORE NFL HEADLINES
- Ray Rice wins appeal, can sign with any team
- Janay Rice: 'Never ... have I seen abuse'
- Manziel: Intoxicated fan had toyed with him
- Cards' Fitzgerald a game-time call Sunday