April 16, 2012 – 5:30 am by Steven Cuce
After a two-plus month party in wake of their Super Bowl win, the New York Giants are close to getting started in earnest on their preparations for the 2012-13 season. Hakeem Nicks was a big reason for the Giants success last season being the number one target for Eli Manning. Although the Giants say they never go out of their way to trash talk or be headline grabbing divas, they sure like to let the New York Jets know who are the kings of the Big Apple now. Count Hakeem Nicks as one of these players who certainly backs it up on the field, but is first perfectly willing to take a jab at the Jets when given the proper forum.
Hakeem Nicks joined WFNZ in Charlotte with The Drive to discuss Eli Manning never folding under pressure, the turmoil that has plagued the North Carolina football program, the New York Giants being the kings of New York City, being an elite wide receiver in the NFL and the possibility of signing with the Carolina Panthers when he becomes a free agent in two seasons.
What's it like to be in that huddle with Eli Manning? How much confidence does he instill in you and every single guy on that team?
"Man one thing Eli does he never folds under pressure. He's always calm through any situation and you gotta know how to have that composure through situations when the game is on the line. When he is in charge of that it rubs off on the other players. Me being one of the leaders on the offense as well keeping the composure and our offensive line…we all just being on the same page. We know what we are capable of doing. We've been in that situation time in and time out and we just get the job done when it is time to. We look forward to it and we thrive off each other."
I know how much you bleed tar heel blue. How hard was it to watch your program go through these troubles over the years and even have your name involved at one point?
"Well I am going to start by saying [North] Carolina being the great school it is academic wise…football wise I felt like we was turning it around, but once all this stuff happened I pretty much don't have too much to say about that. I had confidence that we were going to rebound. That the university was going to do whatever it could to get the thing turned around and get the right people in there and do what they had to do to turn it around. I still bleed [North] Carolina blue. I am always going to do that."
How does it feel to be the kings of New York over the tabloid grabbing New York Jets?
"Man it feels good. We look at it like the Jets…they can get the credit. They like being in the limelight. We feed off of our coach. Our coaches [say] don't talk and play the game. I think that is what we feed off of. We know what we are capable of doing. We don't gotta sit here and boost ourselves up. We'll go out there and prove out on the field. That's what we did."
How far is Hakeem Nicks away from the elite receivers like Larry Fitzgerald, Roddy White and Calvin Johnson?
"I don't feel like I am too far. They got some years on me. It comes with respect. You gotta respect that, but I don't feel like physical wise – the way I play and statistically I feel like I can compete on a level like that. I don't really look into obviously not look into being the best for myself, but to contribute to my team the best way possible."
You will be a free agent in 2013. Would you ever consider coming back home and playing for your hometown Carolina Panthers?
"You never know what the future holds. That's all I will say. You never know what the future will hold. Right now I am a New York Giant and it's going to be like that for the next two seasons and I really can't speak out on that."