When the Dolphins selected Alabama receiver Jaylen Waddle with the sixth-overall pick in Thursday night’s NFL draft, ESPN’s TV cameras showed footage of those in the Lions’ war room celebrating like they’d just won Super Bowl LVI.
Shortly after the Lions executives were finished dancing, hugging and high-fiving each other, they wasted little time in drafting the player of their desire, Oregon tackle Penei Sewell, with the seventh pick.
Several minutes later, as the Giants’ turn at No. 11 overall approached, there was no TV footage of their war room, and that was probably a good thing because it might have shown general manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Joe Judge cursing and throwing draft-night pizza slices against the walls in disgust.
The first round was a queasy roller-coaster ride of emotions for the Giants, who had their eyes on a couple of the top receivers, Alabama’s DeVonta Smith or Waddle, or top cornerbacks, Jaycee Horn or Patrick Surtain II.
Early on, the board looked like it was falling well for the Giants as the first three teams, as predicted, took quarterbacks. When LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase and Waddle went to the Bengals and Dolphins, respectively, there was a quick run on the corners, with Horn and Surtain going to the Panthers and Broncos, respectively, at Nos. 8 and 9.
At that moment, it looked like Smith, the Heisman Trophy winner who posted prolific numbers in college and looked like a tantalizing new weapon for quarterback Daniel Jones, might be there at 11 for the Giants.
Only the Cowboys, who were expected to address defense, stood in the way at No. 10.
And then the Eagles intervened.
The same fr&%*!ing hated Eagles who less than five months ago tanked their season finale and cost the Giants the NFC East title by handing the Washington Football Team a victory and a playoff berth in a 20-14 loss.
Like the Giants, the Eagles, who were picking at No. 12, had eyes for one of the top receivers, and they deftly executed a trade with the Cowboys at No. 10 to leapfrog the Giants and swipe Smith from them.
The fr&%*!ing hated Eagles.
The Giants quickly — and correctly — retreated, trading their No. 11-overall pick to the Bears, swapping 11 for 20 and acquiring the Bears’ 2022 first-round and fourth-round picks and their fifth-rounder this year.
At the end of the day, Gettleman deserves credit for acting swiftly and acquiring an impressive haul for the trade down and landing Florida receiver Kadarius Toney with the 20th pick.
That it was the Eagles who forced the trade and cost the Giants the Heisman Trophy winner, though, was distasteful.
“It’s a business deal, that’s what it is,’’ Gettleman said. “One hand washes the other. Obviously, Dallas was happy with their return. So, they made the trade with Philly and we traded down. Not a big deal.’’
If you believe that then you believe LT’s making a comeback in 2021.
“Look, trades happen a lot,’’ Judge reasoned. “Normally, it doesn’t happen within the division, but my enemy is my friend. They made a move that worked for them and it was a good business move. We’re pleased the way it turned out. We added a good player and some assets for the future.’’
Sure they did, but … those fr&%*!ing hated Eagles, whose tank cost the Giants a playoff berth in January.
The reaction from the Giants players and coaches after that travesty predictably was heated.
“To disrespect the game by going out there and not competing for 60 minutes and doing everything you can to help those players win … we will never do that as long as I am the head coach of the New York Giants,” Judge said the day after.
Receiver Darius Slayton called it “sickening’’ on Twitter and added that it was “disrespectful to the game.’’
Eli Manning tweeted: “This is why we don’t like the Eagles.’’
Thursday night was reason 215 million for the Giants and their fans to dislike the Eagles.
Credit Gettleman for not reaching for an edge rusher at No. 20 and pivoting to Toney, a player the Giants liked throughout the predraft process who caught 70 passes and scored 11 TDs last season for the Gators.
The Giants needed to give Jones more skill-position talent with their top pick and they did that — even if it wasn’t one of the two Alabama dynamos.
Who knows? In the end, maybe Toney becomes a better receiver than Smith does for the Eagles.
That, along with the Giants winning more games than Philadelphia and making the playoffs for the first time in five years, is the best revenge they can exact on their Jersey Turnpike rivals in 2021.
In this case, revenge would be best served in the form of an 80-yard Toney game-winning touchdown reception over the fr&%*!ing hated Eagles.
Only then will all be forgotten, though never forgiven.