As a turbulent Giants season has wound down, the team’s star safety, Landon Collins, let it be known that he has some problems with teammate Eli Apple, a cornerback who was the 10th overall pick in the 2016 draft. Collins’s antipathy for Apple reached a new level Tuesday when he went on a New York radio show and called the cornerback “a cancer” who should not be on the team next season. By Wednesday morning, however, he had apologized.
“I met with Coach Spags [Steve Spagnuolo, the interim coach] and Eli this morning and I apologized for the things I said yesterday,” Collins tweeted. “I never stop supporting my brother/teammate Eli and the rest of my teammates as we move forward. Just want him to know I’m always here for him.”
Collins made the remark in an interview on ESPN Radio New York when he was asked what changes he would recommend the Giants make to their secondary this offseason, if the team came to him for such advice. As part of a 2-13 debacle entering the final week of the regular season, the Giants have allowed the second-most passing yards in the NFL and the fifth-highest passer rating to opposing quarterbacks.
“There’s one corner that . . . he needs to grow up, and we all know who that is,” Collins said (via NJ.com). He didn’t need to specify about whom he was speaking, in part because during the previous week on the same radio show, Collins had said that Apple “has to grow up.” A week before that appearance, Apple had created headlines by denying Collins’s assertion that he had tried to counsel the struggling cornerback.
“That would be the only person I would change out of our secondary group,” Collins said Thursday. “The other two guys, [cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie] and [Janoris Jenkins], I love those guys. They play hard, they love what they do.
“But that first[-round] pick . . . he’s a cancer.”
Later, Collins apologized on Twitter for saying “cancer,” but only because another user describing himself as “a cancer survivor” asked the safety to stop using that word “to describe your sports drama.” Collins seems unlikely to apologize to Apple himself, if their recent issues are any indication.
Earlier this month, Collins said on Twitter, “Tweet about that and watch what happens,” which many took as a warning to Apple, as it was posted shortly after the latter’s denials that they had talked about the cornerback’s disappointing season. Apple, 22, was deactivated for four straight games between Weeks 11 and 14, following reports of criticism by Giants coaches of his effort in a Week 10 loss to the 49ers.
Apple, who was benched for much of a Week 5 loss to the Chargers for reportedly disciplinary reasons, received further punishment for tweeting during a Week 14 loss to the Cowboys, in violation of the NFL’s social-media policy. Shortly after that game, he irked his team by retweeting a post that said Dallas running back Rod Smith, who played with Apple at Ohio State, “iced the New York Giants” with a long touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Apple was back on the field for a Week 15 loss to the Eagles, but he may have created more locker-room turmoil by suggesting to media members that Rodgers-Cromartie was at fault for a Philadelphia touchdown. Apple was then used exclusively on special teams during a Week 16 loss to the Cardinals.
According to a recent report by NJ.com, Apple could be having ongoing difficulties with a family schism in which he and his mother are no longer speaking with his longtime former stepfather or his two brothers. The former Buckeye’s unusually close relationship with his mother, Annie Apple, has been widely noted since the 2016 draft, causing some to question his maturity.
Collins, a 2016 first-team all-pro selection, was voted this year to his second straight Pro Bowl, but he won’t be playing in that game, or in the Giants’ Week 17 finale against the Redskins, after breaking his forearm while playing against Arizona.
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