If crying is cool, Kayvon Thibodeaux can be considered Miles Davis.
The rookie outside linebacker made his first career sack one to remember, stripping the ball from 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson as the Giants tried to close out yet another comeback victory. Leonard Williams recovered the fumble with 1:30 remaining in the game, and the Giants secured the 24-20 win as part of a 5-1 start to the season.
"It's a blessing," Thibodeaux said. "It was the greatest moment. I really sat out there and cried just because the emotion I felt that now, I'm in the NFL. Now that you can really contribute and this is what they pay me to be here for, so the fact that I was able to get it done is a great feeling."
Thibodeaux, mentored by Michael Strahan, wasn't embellishing.
"Yeah, I really cried," Thibodeaux said.
Does he cry a lot?
"You know, yeah, cool guys cry," the fifth overall pick said.
They also make the biggest plays when it matters most.
"Well, you know, with Lamar he was holding the ball a little bit, so we had that idea that he was going to be able to pat the ball with the coverage," Thibodeaux said, breaking down the play. "So just being able get off, use my second moves, and keep rushing. It was more of an effort sack less than a first move sack."
Thibodeaux added, "We as a defense knew that we had to take it away, so we were able to come in and we knew the situation. I think the greatest part about is the coaches, they really help us and for me being a rookie, they've been teaching me the situations and knowing that they were down, we knew that they had to go a long distance to score so we really had to get after them."
It hasn't been all smooth sailing for the highly-touted Thibodeaux.
The first defensive player to earn unanimous All-America status in Oregon history missed his first two NFL games with a knee injury and was on a pitch count once he returned in Week 3.
"I was getting closer, and I just knew eventually it was going to come," Thibodeaux said. "I couldn't really pout about it, I couldn't worry, I couldn't listen to you guys, I just had to really lock in and get what I had to get done."
The start to his pro career played out eerily similar to what the Giants discussed with him during his pre-draft interview at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
"Just giving me a hard time like what's going to happen if I'm not the star coming in?" Thibodeaux said in March of the conversation. "Five games in, if I don't have a sack – this is one thing we talked about – the media is going to be down on me. I'm going to be in the doghouse. How am I going to [handle] that? And I let them know I've been in the media since I was a sophomore in high school. So I've been trained for this my whole life, and I know that most of it is entertainment. So I'm not really worried because whatever happens between the four walls of the team and the organization is what's going to dictate the future. And if I have five bad games, we're going to focus on that next week and how we're going to dominate the team that is next."
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