Strahan's Lost Season
One Giant Eager For a Fresh Start
When Giants veterans gathered for a minicamp last week, left defensive end Michael Strahan faced his nightmare of a 1999 season for the first time in 2000: He watched film of the debacle. "I've been wondering how in the world I could have gone from being a good player to stinking," Strahan said last Friday. "Then I watched the film. I remembered how teams played me—two blockers, sometimes three, a guard always looking over to see if I was free. Plus, I just never felt right."
Also, Strahan's new four-year, $32 million contract had made him a marked man; he went from 14 sacks in '97 and 15 in '98 to 5� in '99. His litany of injuries reads like an E.R. report: hyperextended left elbow, burst bursa sac in right elbow, torn ligaments in left thumb, torn ligaments in right wrist, sprained right shoulder, cyst behind left knee. "I hyperextended my elbow in the first game," Strahan says, "and from that point on, I never did a bench press. You can't play this position without strength. I didn't bench-press a pound until a month ago."
To spring the 28-year-old Strahan, the Giants plan to switch him with right end Cedric Jones at times and run more stunts with left tackle Christian Peter. "I want to prove this season I'm the best and most complete defensive end in football," says Strahan, who two years ago was just that. If he can't, the Giants, 7-9 last year, may be headed for a second straight losing season.
The Coles Contract
Jets Draw Up A Smart Deal
Now we know why the Jets overpaid in signing troubled wide receiver Laveranues Coles, their third-round draft choice who was kicked off Florida State's team last October for defrauding a department store. The 78th pick in the draft, Coles received a $450,000 signing bonus; last year's 78th pick, wideout Marty Booker, got $406,000 from the Bears.
It turns out the Jets bought some insurance. According to language in the contract, Coles must return $100,000 each time he's found guilty of a crime—or pleads no contest, or is suspended by the league—during the three-year life of the deal. "For example," the contract says, "if player is arrested [and is found guilty] once and suspended by the league once, then player must immediately repay $200,000 to the club."
Bottom line? By about $25,000, the Jets overpaid for a receiver with blazing speed whose stock dropped because of his off-field history. If Coles produces on the field and remains a good citizen, the Jets will get a nice return on their investment But if he runs afoul of the law, the club can cash in its insurance policy.