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Root of the matter: DeOssie in the clear

By Chad Finn
Globe Staff / February 10, 2012
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His son plays for the franchise with which he built his most cherished football memories, at the same position he played 21 years earlier on a championship team.

When times were darker and trouble had found him, it was the family that ran the franchise that helped him get his life in order.

Is it any wonder that Steve DeOssie wanted the Giants to win Super Bowl XLVI?

“It’s what I’d expect when people are upset,’’ said DeOssie, a prominent pundit on various Patriots programming, when asked whether he has received harsh feedback locally to a video that shows him speaking emotionally at a Giants pep rally before the Super Bowl. “Fully understandable. I don’t think I’ve ever hidden the fact that I’m a Giants fan. I can understand, particularly with the loss.’’

He’s right. Had the Patriots not come out on the wrong side of a 21-17 score Sunday night, the video would already be an afterthought.

And remember, DeOssie has never denied his Giants allegiance. His son, Zak, is the Giants’ fourth-year long snapper, a position Steve played for the Giants from 1989-93. When the Patriots and Giants met in Super Bowl XLII, Zak’s rookie year, his father was open about pulling for New York.

But the problem for DeOssie, the reason he will be viewed by Patriots fans with an arched eyebrow for the time being, is that he was . . . well, a bit over the top in the video.

“You know what, even if my son wasn’t playing on the Giants, I would pick the Giants, because they’re the better team, they deserve the game,’’ DeOssie tells the crowd.

The video lasts roughly a minute and a half. DeOssie continues:

“I just came from doing the [Patriots] pregame show, and we’ve got five guys, and they’re talking about how great this is and how great that is and [Rob] Gronkowski and [Aaron] Hernandez and [Wes] Welker. And I appreciate that. I know you have some great receivers and you have a great quarterback. But how hard is it when you’ve got JPP [Jason Pierre-Paul], Osi [Umenyiora], [Justin] Tuck up in your face.’’

The approving roar arrives on cue.

“I feel like I’ve come home here,’’ DeOssie tells the amped-up crowd. “I’m a Giant in my heart, I’m so glad my son’s a New York Giant. I struggle sometimes up in New England, but I know I’ve got a home in New York. I love you guys.’’

Damning? Hardly. Damaging to how he’s perceived in New England and to his credibility as an analyst? Maybe, though it shouldn’t be.

DeOssie said yesterday he doesn’t regret his participation in the rally, but wishes that he’d chosen a few words differently.

“The thing that’s lost in translation is that I talked about the great players that the Patriots have,’’ DeOssie said. “The mistake I made was that I didn’t explain why I struggle between New York and New England.

“I’m a native Bostonian; of course I’m a Patriots fan, too, but I have such an allegiance to the Giants for everything they did for me. And I choose to live here. I should have been more specific as to what I struggle with.’’

It should not be overlooked that DeOssie’s loyalty is born of a time when he had struggles of a more serious nature.

“When I got arrested with pot paraphernalia [while playing for the Giants], they could have easily dismissed me and wrote me off,’’ DeOssie said. “But the Mara family, the leadership of the Giants, asked me one simple question: if I wanted help.

“And when I said I wanted help, that’s all they needed to hear, and got me the help I needed. It was the single most important non-family episode in my life.’’

DeOssie appears on WEEI, Channel 4, and Comcast SportsNet New England. What follows are statements from each outlet.

Comcast SportsNet New England spokeswoman Laura Hannon: “We have no doubt that Steve is a credible football analyst. He is an NFL veteran who played for some of the league’s highest-profile teams and has remarkable knowledge of the game. He has been transparent about his family affiliations and we do not believe they have impacted his ability to objectively analyze football games.’’

WEEI program director Jason Wolfe: “I think that Steve is a terrific analyst who has a tremendous ability to discuss all aspects of the game at a very high level. We’ve worked together for many years and he’s done an excellent job.’’

CBS Boston director of communications Ro Dooley Webster: “We have received quite a bit of feedback from viewers, and we will continue to consider viewer response as we evaluate our plans for next season.’’

DeOssie will take a pounding on the “Whiner Line’’ for a while, but a few jabs from some radio wise guys is the most punishment he deserves. His appearance at the Giants pep rally should not cost him any of his jobs talking about the Patriots.

DeOssie has proven in this market for more than 15 years that when he is not obligated to play an ex-jock caricature on the radio, he is more than capable of providing honest and insightful analysis of the Patriots, no matter whether his football heart is here or elsewhere.

Chad Finn can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @globechadfinn.

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