Handley's media slap brings expected backlash

October 09, 1992|By The Hartford Courant

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The torrent New York Giants coach Ray Handley had to expect was unleashed yesterday.

Abuse flowed nonstop on WFAN-AM. It detonated on the back pages of the New York tabloids, one showing a photo of Handley nudging a photographer from practice, another running a large picture of Handley with a gas gauge reading empty drawn on his forehead.

This was the day after Handley announced his new media schedule, which significantly curtails his availability. Lost in all of it were two other stories that broke Wednesday -- the retirement plans of linebacker Lawrence Taylor, probably the best player the team has ever had, and the elbow injury that could keep starting quarterback Phil Simms out for up to six weeks.

"I regret that I have been the story and not our football team," Handley said in a meeting after practice yesterday. "... It's not my doing."

It's yet another piece to the larger picture -- a coach unable to deal with a key element of his job. Players were silent on all of that, except for a joke here and there.

"Like noses, everybody's got one [an opinion]," linebacker Carl Banks said. "I'll keep my nose out of this."

But Handley touched off all this controversy Wednesday when he failed to show for his regular noon news conference.

Instead, he sent releases to announce Simms' injury -- bone chips and a strained ligament -- and a new interview policy, which originally cut out Wednesday and Thursday meetings with Handley and access to the players Friday.

Then he got in a hassle with two photographers before practice.

To make things difficult for the electronic media yesterday, Handley spoke several feet from the microphones and refused to move closer.

Handley is angry about his treatment on television newscasts, where short clips of his 30-minute news conference are, in his opinion, blown out of proportion.

Before practice Wednesday, he confronted two newspaper photographers at the gate to the practice field. He asked for indentification and, taking one by the arm, escorted them from the area.

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