It was only a few weeks ago that the Giants were hailing Janoris Jenkins as a leader and a good influence on the young players in their secondary. And maybe at the time it was true.
But with one vile Tweet, one hideous slur, and one remarkable, on-camera non-apology, he became a terrible influence and a disgraceful example for everyone. So the Giants did the only thing they could do on Friday morning. They cut him -- a swift and absolutely correct move.
Maybe it seems like a harsh penalty to some, but it was awfully harsh word that Jenkins chose to use when he called a fan a "retard" on Twitter. And he didn't help his cause by blowing his chance at a sincere apology 24 hours later. For a franchise that often speaks about "culture," that talks about bringing in good players who are also good people, and that values high character, they couldn't let this go.
There was no way for John Mara, Steve Tisch, Dave Gettleman or Pat Shurmur to look themselves in the mirror if Jenkins was still out on their field. There would be no way to ever brag about their "culture" again.
"This was an organizational decision," Shurmur said in a statement on Friday morning. "From ownership to management to our football operations, we felt it was in the best interests of the franchise and the player. Obviously, what happened this week, and the refusal to acknowledge the inappropriate and offensive language, was the determining factor."
That last part is key, because even after Jenkins went on Twitter to use the disgusting word, even after he did it during practice when he was supposed to be doing rehab inside the team facility, the Giants were willing to give him a chance to dig out of his hole. Shurmur spoke to him, as did other team officials, according to a source. It was agreed that he would apologize in front of the media on Thursday afternoon.
But that turned out to be a disaster. With a team PR official standing three feet away, Jenkins didn't apologize. In Shurmur's words, "he made an attempt to rationalize his beliefs." It was a disturbing and ridiculous attempt, too. Jenkins excused his use of the word as "part of my culture" and "just the slang that I use with my homeboys back at home in the 'hood." (Never mind that he's a 31-year-old man who spent three years in college and doesn't live in his old neighborhood anymore).
And then Jenkins took it a step further. He engaged in a shameful act of victim-blaming, too. He said his intention wasn't to offend anybody, and then added this gem: "It's my slang, so if you take it how you going to take it, that's on you."
Tell that to any special needs children who might have just heard a player on their favorite football team use one of the most dehumanizing, disgusting, offensive words they could hear.
So this was a painfully easy call, especially when you consider Jenkins has been a thorn in the Giants' side for years, including a suspension back in 2017 when he failed to return to the team after the bye week and didn't bother to call and tell them why. It was made even easier by the fact that, according to a team source, he was going to be cut in February, a move that would -- and now does -- clear $11.25 million off the Giants' 2020 salary cap.
But it was easy for another reason, too: It was the right thing to do. If that word is part of Jenkins' "culture," then the Giants don't want him around their younger, impressionable defensive backs. He's no example for them of how to behave like a professional, especially when he refused to be accountable for his own words.
And for whatever you think of the way the Giants businesses has operated the last few years, the truth is they really are an organization with a heart. They have good people working there, from ownership on down. They are sincere when they talk about "culture" and "character." They really do want to do the right thing.
Unfortunately, they don't always do it, and there are plenty of examples of that. It's a forever stain on their organization that they gave a second chance to Christian Peter back in 1997, despite a violent past filled with charges of sexual assault and even rape -- so disturbing that the New England Patriots cut him days after they drafted him in 1996.
And fans may never forget their decision to sign 37-year-old kicker Josh Brown while knowing he was facing charges of domestic violence, or how they somehow stuck by him and allowed then-head coach Ben McAdoo to stand up and say "I do support Josh as a man, a father, and a player" just before the disturbing details of the allegations leaked out.
Of course, what Jenkins did doesn't rise to that level. But his use of that slur was harmful and painful nonetheless, and absolutely devastating to a large segment of society. The Giants knew that. They do tremendous work with all types of special needs children. They knew how hurtful words could be.
So once Jenkins showed the world he just didn't get it -- or perhaps didn't care -- they did the only thing anyone with a heart or a conscience could do. Because if using that word, dehumanizing others, and refusing to admit mistakes is all part of Jenkins' "culture" then the Giants were right in deciding that their "culture" was better off without him.