Kelvin Benjamin had no intention of trying to return to the NFL originally. The day after a brief stint with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018, Benjamin retired to Florida, happy to get on with his life.
Earlier this year, he received a phone call from Giants general manager Dave Gettleman. And so began one of the strangest – and shortest – passages for a player in recent memory.
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It all started with a rookie minicamp tryout in May – odd for a 30-year-old former 1,000-yard receiver – where Benjamin lined up on the tight end, a new position for him. Days later, the Giants signed him to a contract, giving him a chance to compete for a spot on the roster and return to the NFL. On Wednesday, the first day of training camp, Benjamin had a heated discussion with coach Joe Judge, was released and then tore Judge apart in an interview with NJ Advance Media, accusing Judge of “trying to sabotage him. “.
He also said Judge didn’t have what it took to lead the Giants to a championship.
Ultimately, however, Benjamin felt like Gettleman was supporting him… at least until the end.
“Me and Gettleman have always stayed in touch,” Benjamin said. “We spoke on the phone one day and he asked are you ready to come back? I know you can do this. Gettleman knows exactly what I can do. He watched me during the years I was in Carolina. Every year I had to go there and work. To be a # 1 catcher you have to go to work every day and you have to be consistent.
Gettleman drafted Benjamin in the Florida State first round in 2014, and it looked like a smart draft pick at the start. Benjamin racked up 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie. He tore his ACL and missed the 2015 season, but was still solid in 2016 when he had 941 yards and seven touchdowns.
The following year, after Gettleman’s sacking, the Panthers traded Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills and his career was quickly cut short.
It won’t restart with the Giants – or anyone else for that matter, as Benjamin said he’s done with the NFL and plans to go back to Florida and “chill out” and “start over. live “.
“This is the main reason I quit football in the first place,” he said.
After Benjamin’s heated argument with the judge on the field before Wednesday’s practice – Gettleman was there too – the Giants general manager followed Benjamin as he left the field for the last time in a Giants uniform.
What did Gettleman say to Benjamin?
“Dave was the one who brought me here and Dave knew exactly what had happened,” Benjamin said. “I’m a team guy. I was once part of a winning team. I get politics in the league and all that. I don’t want to put it there (what Gettleman said). But now you know what organizations are like: they take care of each other. “
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Zack Rosenblatt can be reached at [email protected]. Tell us your coronavirus story or send a tip here.