“Word is the Giants will sign none other than Brandon Jacobs.”
When I received a text message from my brother Dan notifying me that the Giants were bringing back an old friend to address a glaring need, my initial reaction was relief. At that point I was just glad to hear some positive news about my beloved team, who was coming off a brutal loss in the season opener in which the offense coughed up the ball seven times.
Of those seven, two were fumbled by David Wilson, the guy the Giants were counting on to the carry the bulk of the running game. Although he’s small by NFL standards, Wilson has electrifying speed and the ability to turn decent gains into big gains. But along with that upside comes a downside. Wilson has a propensity to lose the ball, and his blocking game needs some serious work.
With the backup running back already on injured reserve after suffering a fractured leg during the preseason, the Giants had a hole they needed to fill — quickly. So they called up a handful of veterans to try out, including Brandon Jacobs, an outspoken running back who spent seven years with the team before signing with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012.
Although he knows the system, choosing Jacobs over other promising players certainly wasn’t a foregone conclusion, particularly since he comes with a few red flags:
- He left San Francisco on bad terms.
- At 31, he’s not exactly young — at least by NFL standards.
- Other teams weren’t exactly chomping at the bit to sign him.
So why would the Giants take a chance on him? Sure, he’s in great shape and is an experienced pass blocker, but a lot of players offer those skills. Jacobs got the nod because of the leadership skills he demonstrated during his term with the Giants.
“As a respected voice in the locker room, he was brought in for more than just ball security. Jacobs will likely serve as a mentor for Wilson, who considered Bradshaw a ‘brother’ during their time in East Rutherford together. He was also a booming voice, one of the team’s go-to sources for inspiration,” according to the Star-Ledger.
That kind of leadership isn’t easy to find, and it certainly isn’t easy to replace.
These days, with so much movement between organizations and so much demand for top talent, it’s no longer unheard of to bring back a familiar face. In fact, it’s more common than most people think. Hiring an old friend, however, comes with its share of complications, and it may not work out if all the necessary elements aren’t there. But there are situations that lend themselves to bringing the band back together, including the following:
- A new opportunity exists (for example, a new job title/department was created)
- Changes in leadership/changes in the scope of the organization
- The employee has maintained strong relationships with the team
For Jacobs, at least two of the criteria were met, in addition to one more key element. He’s got something to prove. He left a team and fan base that loved him in search of another opportunity, and it was a bust. The grass, as it turned out, was not greener. Jacobs needs to show that he still holds value as both a player and a leader, and if that means eating a small slice of humble pie, so be it.
When I heard the statement the Giants gave after making the announcement that “Big Jake” was back, the relief I initially felt turned to joy.
“Whatever role they want me to play, I’ll come in and do it,” Jacobs said. “The Giants have given me a great opportunity. This is where I wanted to be. These are the coaches I want to play for and I wanted to come back with my teammates.”
There are times when bringing a familiar face is the wrong move, and it’s better to go for new blood. But then there are times when an old friend coming back turns out to be a win-win.
Here’s hoping that’s the case.