Arrington's Anger Still on Regular Display
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Some leftovers from the New York Giants' opening day of practices Friday at their training camp at the University at Albany:
Linebacker LaVar Arrington says he no longer is bitter about the circumstances surrounding his departure from the Washington Redskins.
"I'm so over it," he said. "I entertain it because you ask it. But I don't think about it or worry about it."
He doesn't sound like a person who's over it, though, as he continues to assail the Redskins on a regular basis.
"There are a whole lot of vendettas in D.C.," he said.
Arrington became a free agent during the offseason after buying his way out of the remainder of his contract with the Redskins, ending a once-flourishing relationship with the team that had soured because of a bitter contract dispute with owner Daniel Snyder and a diminished role during the tenure of Coach Joe Gibbs and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
Arrington said it may have been the Redskins' defensive coaches who had no use for him, but he holds Gibbs equally responsible for the deterioration of the relationship that led to Arrington's departure from D.C.
"That's his coaching staff," Arrington said. "Whatever it was, I just really believe everyone was in cahoots. Those are his guys. If he really wanted me to be there and things to work out, he would have told them that and I would be there.... There were so many different coaching staffs [during Arrington's stay with the Redskins]. That faith and belief and trust that was there with the fans wasn't there with the coaches. I just didn't have that.
"There wasn't a [longtime Pittsburgh Steelers coach] Bill Cowher there for me. It was like a game of Russian roulette: You keep shooting, and you finally get to the one with the bullet. I finally got to the coaching staff that didn't want me. I was fine with three coaching staffs and worked well with them, but this one didn't want me."
Arrington said he spoke often to his former Redskins teammates early in the offseason, then stopped once he signed with the Giants in April. "I don't want to dilute my healthy dislike for any team in this league," he said, "so I don't really feel a need to have personal conversations with them."
He said he will "always be grateful" to Giants middle linebacker Antonio Pierce, his former teammate in Washington, for telling Giants officials that Arrington wasn't a bad guy and should be signed.
"Sometimes it comes down to personality conflicts," Pierce said. "They made him Mr. Redskin when they gave him that big deal, then Gibbs and Williams came in and they threw him out the window. I never got to [General Manager Ernie Accorsi's] office. But I made sure to tell Coach [Tom] Coughlin and [defensive coordinator Tim] Lewis, 'He's not a bad person. He's sure not a bad player.' "
The Green Bay Packers finished second in the race to sign Arrington.
"The Giants and the Packers stepped up," Arrington said. "I didn't ask for anything during the whole process. I said, 'You tell me what I'm worth.' Brett Favre called me and said, 'Me and you are going to ride together.' Plus they offered more money. If I was really all about the money, I'd be a Packer. The only thing better than a team with a great owner and front office is a team owned by the fans."
He already knows, he said, that he will have a far more prominent role on this Giants defense than he had on the Redskins defense the past few seasons.
"I'm involved," Arrington said. "I deserve to be involved. I've earned the right to be involved. If I'm not involved, you have to ask yourself why that is and what kind of [stuff] is going on."...
Arrington spoke to Merril Hoge by telephone late last week after the ESPN analyst said that Arrington is an undisciplined player who won't be able to coexist with the demanding Coughlin. Arrington said that he and Hoge usually are friendly and he was hurt that Hoge didn't call him before making the comments.
"I fault him for not communicating with me," Arrington said.
Arrington says he's annoyed with the perpetuation of what he calls a myth that he is an out-of-control player who can't fit into the framework of a team.
"That's not accurate and that's not me," he said. "The depictions of me have always been so distorted. I've always tried to fit in."...
Pierce said he thinks he will benefit from the attention that Arrington and Giants defensive ends Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan will receive from opposing blockers this season.
"If people are going to make sure they block those three guys and they don't block me," Pierce said, "that's fine."
Pierce originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Redskins in 2001. He keeps a list of the linebackers who were drafted that year.
"It's understandable that everyone wants to remember you as an undrafted player," he said. "But I've made it to six years in this league. That list is down to 13. It started out at 30. I'm definitely going to be the last guy standing on that list."...
Giants quarterback Eli Manning estimates that he's been asked about 200 times about the season-opening game at Giants Stadium in which he will face his brother Peyton and the Indianapolis Colts.
"It's not just another game for us," he said. "We'll remember it. But it doesn't matter to Strahan or LaVar that I'm playing my brother. To them, it's just the first game of the season and they want to get a win. It's not like we're going head to head. I'm preparing for the Colts' defense. He's preparing for the Giants' defense."
That, said Giants tailback Tiki Barber, makes it a little bit easier for the Mannings. Barber said that facing his brother Ronde, a cornerback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was one of his toughest tasks in football.
"He's lucky they don't have to be on the field at the same time," Barber said. "In essence, he can root for his brother over there on the sideline, although quietly.... He'll be fine. It's really the parents that have it the toughest."
Eli Manning recalled the first time he ever beat his brother in an athletic competition--a back-yard basketball game when he was 17 or 18 and Peyton was home on a break from college.
"It had probably been a few years since he played basketball and I was playing high school basketball, so I had a little bit of an advantage there," he said. "It was a pretty boring game, each guy backing the other guy in and shooting a hook shot."
But that didn't mean that Peyton took his loss in stride.
"He wasn't very happy," Eli said....
Barber, at 31, is coming off his best NFL season. He keeps busy off the field with a variety of broadcasting and other business ventures, and he said he could see himself walking away from football within the next few years if the right opportunity comes along.
He said he didn't give any consideration to that this past offseason, however.
"I honestly feel we can compete for a Super Bowl this season," Barber said.
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