Saturday night, the Giants will return to the site of one of their greatest victories (Super Bowl XLVI) but it will also be the first time they will oppose one of their most prolific players – WR Hakeem Nicks – who is now a member of the Indianapolis Colts.
The Giants chose not to pursue Nicks when he became a free agent this past March. His injury history and friction with management ultimately led to a parting of the ways. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t left a legacy.
Former WR mate Victor Cruz was asked this week how it would feel to see Nicks on the opposing sidelines.
“It’s going to be weird,” said Cruz. “I was watching him this past week in that good ole Colts jersey. It’s not the same, but he’s healthy from what I hear, he’s in the best shape in his life from what I hear and see. I’m going to shoot him a text to talk junk to him, too, while I’m at it.”
Cruz said he still keeps tabs on Nicks, who was the Giants first-round selection n the 2009 NFL Draft and caught 311 passes in his five seasons in Blue.
“We absolutely stay in touch,” Cruz said. “Every chance we get, every time something goes on, he’s definitely still in-tune with what we’re doing here and I’m in-tune with what he’s got going on over there. We always stay in touch. We’re friends above all, so we definitely always talk to each other.”
S Antrel Rolle, who went up against Nicks in practice for four of Nicks’ five seasons with the Giants, had nothing but good things to say about his former teammate but said the friendship ends once the game starts.
“It’s always going to be good to see Hakeem. I’m happy for Hakeem,” said Rolle. “I think he landed in a blessed situation. More important, alongside Reggie Wayne. I’m a longtime friend of Reggie Wayne. I understand his work ethic and his craft. Hakeem having someone above him to lay down the foundation, lay the law down, is going to help him increase his game just that much more. I’m excited to see Hakeem but there are no friends out there on the field and I know he understands that. I know he feels the same way about us. This is home for him. I’m just looking forward to the game, it’s going to be a great battle.”
Nicks, in an interview this week on the Colts’ website, said he was looking forward to playing the Giants. “I think it will be competitive on both ends,” he said.
Nicks wears uniform No. 14 for the Colts. His signature 88 has not been retired by the Colts, but is out of circulation. The number was worn by both Hall of Fame TE John Mackey and WR Marvin Harrison, so it’s unlikely to be issued again.