In this week's edition of Cover 3, the crew shares their favorite memories of training camp since covering the Giants
John Shmeelk: I'll never forget the years we spent in training camp at the University of Albany. It was the bonding that happened with the entire Giants staff as they spent almost a month away from their families that made it special. There were the nightly basketball games, nights out and other quirky things that came up. LaVar Arrington drove around campus in a Segway one year. Plaxico Burress had a custom golf cart he navigated campus with one season. I was constantly mistaken for Jeff Feagles by autograph seekers even though I was 10 years younger. The baldness does it every time. Michael Jennings' tricked out car he showed up to camp in is something I won't forget. There was the "Michael Strahan Watch" in 2007. Then, there are memories I can't disclose that may have happened in the wee hours of the night.
Lance Medow: Let's go back to the summer of 2012. The Giants signed tight end Martellus Bennett, who spent his first four seasons in the league with the Cowboys (behind Jason Witten). Bennett was itching to become a team's No. 1 tight end and the Giants were looking for someone to fill the void left behind by Jake Ballard, who tore his left ACL in the second half of Super Bowl XLVI. It didn't take long for Bennett to break out of his shell, on and off the field, as he immediately showcased his unique personality.
When Bennett arrived in Albany for training camp, during his first encounter with the Giants media, he gave a classic response to the question of "How is your conditioning with your extra weight?" Said Bennett: "I'm kind of bigger than I was. I'm more muscular than I was in the past. I actually started lifting weights really, really hard. But I'm in the best shape I've ever been. Ask any of the guys in the camp, I'm stronger than I've ever been, I'm faster than I've ever been. I could run all day. I'm kind of like a black unicorn out there. It's amazing to watch."
Bennett's humorous responses didn't end there. In that same interaction with reporters, he also compared offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride to "Professor Dumbledore," a character from Harry Potter, because of Gilbride's attention to detail and his ability to explain the offense clearly to his players. The coach even used his wife's decision-making process when choosing a meal to make a point about Eli Manning's decisiveness on and off the field. Bennett only played one season with the Giants, but he set the tone in training camp for what ultimately became an extremely entertaining season full of memorable lines and media sessions. He was quite the character.
Matt Citak: The 2022 season marks my fourth since joining the Giants. Unfortunately, two of those occurred while there were strict COVID restrictions in place, meaning I only got to experience a "normal" training camp in 2019.
My favorite training camp memory from that summer is easily witnessing the early stages of the relationship between Daniel Jones and Eli Manning. The 2019 season served as Jones' first and Manning's last in the NFL, which obviously offered an interesting dynamic between the Giants' legend and the rookie drafted to inherit the job. However, you never would have been able to recognize that if you merely observed the two interacting inside the building. Of course, Manning had his fun with the rookie, pulling some pranks on the young quarterback throughout the summer. But just about every day at lunch time, you would find Manning, Jones, Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta - the four QBs on the roster at the time - sitting together in the cafeteria, laughing and joking around with each other. Manning helped guide Jones throughout the season, even after the rookie took over as the starting quarterback. Based on the interactions between the two during training camp, it did not surprise me in the slightest to see the franchise legend help the rookie QB any way he could.
"Just a tremendous opportunity to learn and to watch him, to be able to talk to him and ask him questions, watch how he went about his work and how he carried himself," Jones said last year about his one season with Manning. "On the field, how he played, how he prepared and then off the field in the building, dealing with teammates and leading this organization. I always looked at it as an awesome opportunity to be behind him and be with him for that year and have that relationship to be able to learn from him, and look to what he was able to do in his time – all he accomplished and the level that he played at."
Take a look at rare photos of New York Giants training camps through the years.