Sometimes a photo really is worth a thousand words. Even after enduring a lengthy playoff drought, a single image continues to follow the New York Giants: the infamous «ship» image.
Six years ago, Sterling Shepard and then-Giants teammates Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and Roger Lewis decided to charter a private plane to Miami after the regular season wrapped up.
A day after he arrived in Florida, a photo surfaced of the soccer player shirtless on a boat with singer Trey Songz and other celebrities.
After the image went viral, many of the players seen in the photo spent the next few days answering or deflecting questions about the trip. The Giants went on to struggle in a 38-13 playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers.
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Sterling Shepard, who was a rookie at the time of the photo, is still on the Giants’ roster and expressed regret when discussing the getaway earlier this week.
«I’m sorry in the aspect that I feel like the focus of the game has now been put elsewhere,» Shepard told The Post on Wednesday. «In the building I felt like we were all good, but the guys come out of the building and turn on the TV and it was on all day around here. It definitely took away from where the attention should have been.»
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Neither player missed any team meetings or practices before the playoff game.
Beckham, Cruz and Lewis do not currently play in the NFL. Beckham was courted by the Dallas Cowboys during the final weeks of the regular season, but was ultimately never signed as the team waited for him to be released medically.
Beckham suffered an ACL injury during last season’s Super Bowl while with the St. Louis Rams. On Wednesday, Miami-Dade police released body camera footage of Beckham being escorted off a flight in November after he failed to respond when attendants allegedly asked him to wear a seatbelt.
At the time of the incident, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the situation would not influence the team’s decision to sign Beckham.
Meanwhile, Shepard has become one of the key pieces of the Giants’ offense in recent seasons. Although he won’t play this weekend due to a torn ACL he suffered in Week 4, he remains steadfast in his belief that the viral image from 2017 wasn’t a factor in the playoff loss.
«Those kinds of things happen every week,» Shepard said, «but I feel like from a care standpoint it wasn’t the right thing to do.»
Landon Collins was also a member of the Giants at the time of the photo and said he doesn’t hold the boat ride against his teammates.
«We still don’t. If we did, I’d still be yelling at Shep,» Collins joked. «It had no impact on the game or locker room. A dribble doesn’t stop you from catching the ball, a dribble doesn’t stop you from tackling, a dribble doesn’t stop you from shooting the ball… The media blew it up and made it the point focal».
The wide receivers who went on the road had a poor showing during the playoff matchup at Lambeau Field, which only fueled the negative sentiments. The wide receiving corps was credited with seven dropped passes on the day, including one in the end zone.
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«We didn’t execute the game plan,» Shepard said. «We had some big drops in the receiving room and we didn’t take our chances. He stayed with me my whole time here. As a rookie, I really didn’t know how hard it is to get into the box.» playoffs».
The Giants’ woes during playoff play extended beyond the open outs. The defense gave up a 42-yard touchdown run on the last play of the first half to increase Green Bay’s lead going into the locker room.
«We had an opportunity on our hands and it slipped away,» Collins said. «That [Hail Mary] it just took our souls. That should never have happened. We allowed them to come back in little by little and they took over.»
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First-year head coach Brian Daboll is credited with turning things around and helping quarterback Daniel Jones have the best season of his career. The Vikings host the Giants on Sunday in the wild card round.