Brutal Business – by Doug Keenholts

The NY Giants selected eight players in the 2007 NFL draft, all of whom ended up making the team coming out of training camp.  That, in and of itself, was a long shot in the dog-eat-dog world of NFL rosters.  It was Giants general manager Jerry Reese’s first draft, and when all eight players were contributors for the eventual Super Bowl Champions, Reese was lauded as something of a personnel savant.  While Aaron Ross, Steve Smith, and Kevin Boss all played key roles that season and in subsequent seasons, the pick of the litter was undoubtedly the last of the eight – the 240th player selected in the entire draft – Ahmad Bradshaw.

With Bradshaw’s release last week, fourth round selection Zak DeOssie (primarily a long-snapper) is the only remaining player still on the roster.  That’s not all that uncommon in the NFL (the acronym commonly is referred to as Not For Long for good reason), but snagging a player of Bradshaw’s caliber after 239 other players were taken certainly is rare.  Saddled with character issues coming out of Marshall University, as well as a smaller than average frame and an ailing foot, Bradshaw slid to the Giants in the seventh round.  A non-factor for most of the ’07 season, Bradshaw burst onto the scene in a big way in the snow in Buffalo in week 16 in what amounted to a must-win situation for Big Blue.  With 151 yards on 17 carries, highlighted by an 88 yard scamper in the fourth quarter that cemented a victory that clinched a playoff berth for the Giants, Bradshaw showed he belonged.  Over the following five years with the Giants, he proved it time and time again.

No player in Blue over this Eli-Coughlin led run of success has embodied what fans and the organization refer to as “the Giants way” more than Bradshaw.  Undersized, he ran in such a violent manner it almost seemed to surprise defenders at times.  His enthusiasm was infectious; you could just tell how much the offensive linemen loved blocking for him.  Heart always on his sleeve, playing each game like it was potentially his last, wear and tear on his body be damned.  Ultimately, that’s what spelled his demise with the Giants, as it eventually does with most NFL players.  With more screws in his feet than a Home Depot, and with younger, cheaper options such as Andre Brown and last year’s first round pick David Wilson showing promise, the Giants made the decision that Bradshaw was expendable and cut him from the roster.  Use him up and spit him out.  Such is life of an NFL player, especially running backs.

From a “business of football” standpoint the move makes all the sense in the world.  Statistics show us that running backs that have six years of wear and tear will slow down rapidly, injuries and miles piling up.  In the salary cap NFL, and with a quarterback making $13 million a year, you have to pick and choose who gets paid and the Giants are obviously choosing Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, with an eye toward Jason Pierre-Paul in the coming years.  On the field, Bradshaw’s tremendous ability at picking up blitzes will likely be the biggest hole to fill as Brown and Wilson are unproven in that regard.  The bigger issue is who picks up the emotional void created by the loss of Bradshaw?

All #44 ever did was give his entire heart, soul, and body to his teammates, organization, and fan base on every play over his six seasons in East Rutherford.  As a fan, that’s all you can really ask.  As a business?  It wasn’t enough to warrant a seventh season.