In training camp this season, the New York Giants brought in former punter Jeff Feagles to work with their rookie Matt Dodge. You’d think it was a great idea, having this veteran who has been there done that in terms of being a professional punter.
But, his comments back then we thought were pretty irresponsible. The media didn’t need to know your entire evaluation of the kid, you could have told GM Jerry Reese in private. But no, he said this:
“I told Jerry Reese a couple of weeks ago that Matt has all the physical talent in the world but that maybe bringing in a sports psychologist can really help him,” said Feagles. “Mentally, there’s just a part of this game, especially with punters and kickers, that you have to overcome. This kid, I’ve seen him kick it to the moon on the side practice field and then you put him behind a line and sometimes he can’t kick it out of a paper bag. That’s too much talent to let go to waste so trying everything, including a sports psychologist, is worth it.”
So you basically just told the world that he needs a head doctor. That should give him a boost! That’s like getting on someone for having low self esteem. They are probably thinking, “well great, hearing that will help.”
Well, after Dodge made the now-infamous mistake of kicking to DeSean Jackson last Sunday, someone else put a microphone in front of Feagles’ mouth.
“Is he going to bounce back from this? That’s a good question,” Feagles said. “I think he’ll be fine. Mentally, you have to let it go. I had a hard time letting it go. I had to use sports psychologist to help me with that. And I know if I had 455 return yards on me at this point in a season, someone would have to be holding me back from jumping out of a window.
“I had bad games and bad kicks and dropped snaps. It happens to every punter. And the bad thing is you have to wait a week to do anything about it. He has to be appreciative that it wasn’t a playoff game or the last game of the season where you’re trying to get into the playoffs.”
But, Feagles wasn’t content bringing up the sports psychologist again. He had to make it clear that the kid must not have listened to all of his advice.
“My thing with Matt was kind of a progressive period starting in training camp until early in their season,” Feagles said. “It’s hard in just a few days to figure out what are his weaknesses and strengths and what he has to work on. I tried to help him improve his technique, drops, footwork. But you’ve got to grow into it. Work the mental game, help him prepare to be a pro and how to transition from college to pro. I worked with him on a pregame routine from Monday to Sunday, what to do each day, all the way to Sunday, and what to do from the time he wakes up to game time.
“And I made him write everything down. Whether he still has it or not, I don’t know. But I tried to tell him that he may not realize why I was making him write it all down, but 10 weeks from now you may need to pull it out and take a look at something and I hope it is something that will help you.”
Jeff, please stop. If you really care about Matt Dodge, you’ll stop speaking about him publicly in the media. I know you think you are helping, but you really aren’t.