John Fennelly, Lead Writer
Recently signed LB Aaron Curry has spent the first four years of his career attempting to live up to the promise he showed when the Seahawks made him the fourth overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. He began his career entering into a losing situation in Seattle (they were coming off a 4-12 season in 2009) and then was shipped off to another franchise in dire straits: the Oakland Raiders, who have not had a winning season since 2002.
To Curry’s disadvantage, he could not stay healthy, adding to the misery. After being released by the Raiders in a truly “adding insult to injury” situation, Curry was at the nexus of football obscurity – another highly-regarded prospect headed for the NFL scrapheap.
But the Giants (like many of the other teams that have hoisted hardware in this millennium) see value in players such as Curry. They take them in, change their setting, role and outlook in an attempt to rekindle the fire that made them such valuable commodities in the first place. Bill Belichick has made a living doing it. Jerry Reese has been doing the same.
Curry won a shot a job last week after working out for the Giants, who immediately recognized that Curry still possessed the will to succeed in the pros. This time around, he will not be the focal point, the player being asked to carry a struggling franchise out of the darkness. He will simply be a role player, another cog in a machine that has a grand plan. Team president Steve Tisch said last week he felt Curry could be a “game-changer” for the Giants.
GM Jerry Reese: “We’re always looking for players and we like giving guys second opportunities. He’s worked hard to get back and he worked out well for us. If he didn’t work out well for us, we wouldn’t be fooling around with this….He passed the physical for us and had a pretty good workout,” Reese said. “We think we have a good opportunity for him here to see if he can reinvent himself a little bit and bring something to this linebacking corps…Of course, it’s a low risk, it’s an opportunity for him. If he comes on and looks like the player he was when he was the fourth pick in the draft, it’s a win-win for everybody… You don’t see a lot because he hasn’t played a lot. We had him graded high. Sometimes guys can go to a new environment and reinvent themselves and we’re hoping that’s what happens with him….He needs to drop some weight. He’s about 265. When he came out he was about 255. He needs to drop some weight, he hasn’t done a lot of cardio, he’s been rehabbing from a knee injury. But he’s in pretty good shape, he did a nice workout for us and hopefully he can step in and create some competition at that position.”
Head coach Tom Coughlin: “He is anxious to have an opportunity and we are anxious to provide him with one. Hopefully the two will meet and we will get a very talented player who can come into the Giant organization and play the way he was graded coming out of college…We studied him coming out then, ‘Okay, he is drafted, he is playing in Seattle.’ But he is definitely a talented kid. He worked out well. He will get down a little bit. The weight was a little bit up but he had warmed up well before he worked out. He probably lost a couple or three pounds while he was running…We’ll see how it fits. He is a bigger NFL–type mold linebacker. He will probably play at 255 or somewhere in there.”
Curry told Michael Eisen of Giants.com that he is finally in a situation where he can fulfill his career expectations:
“It was a burden early on in my career. It was a pressure. It was a stress to me. I definitely felt a lot of pressure and I think the biggest mistake I made was I didn’t accept the pressure as a positive influence. I kind of saw it as a negative influence. Instead of accepting the role, I kind of wanted to be my own person. I didn’t want to be seen as just the fourth pick in the draft. I wanted to be seen as Aaron Curry. Early on, I focused a lot on my own individual success versus doing what it took to help the team be successful. Over my years I came to understand that the only way the team is going to be successful is if everybody does their part and everybody plays their role and everybody has to have a selfless mentality and put the team before themselves and that’s all I’m looking forward to, playing with the Giants.
I feel like having been freed from that burden, that pressure and now I’m more interested in doing whatever it takes to help a team win and bring a positive energy and a selfless mindset versus being all about being the fourth pick in the draft. I think that’s allowed me to be more sociable with my teammates and not be so stressed out.”