The entire 2021 season was an ugly one for the New York Giants, but one moment in particular stands out to safety Xavier McKinney.
It was Week 17, according to a story McKinney recently shared with The Athletic. The Giants were on the road, approaching halftime of what would eventually be a 29-3 loss to the Chicago Bears. Mike Glennon started at quarterback that game, and his first two drives ended in a lost fumble and an interception. In the final minute of the first half, running back Devontae Booker was tackled for a loss in the end zone for a safety.
That must have been the moment McKinney lost it, because he admits that he expressed his “frustration” in front of the team in the locker room shortly thereafter. One unnamed Giants player said McKinney specifically called out the offense.
Here’s an excerpt from The Athletic:
“I had reached a point where I was just mad,” McKinney told The Athletic recently. “I’m a competitor. I don’t like to lose. But there’s a way in how you compete. I just felt like that game, we weren’t competing. Sometimes you might lose games, it is what it is. But it’s easy to tell when somebody’s fighting to earn a spot or to win a game. When you see guys not competing, that’s where that frustration kicks in. So for me, that was a frustrating moment. I was mad. And I voiced that.”
McKinney didn’t hold back when addressing the team at halftime as the Giants trailed 22-3 on the way to their fifth-straight loss during a 4-13 season.
“He came into the locker room and he lit our offense up,” an offensive player said. “He was like, ‘Fix it. Whatever y’all got going on, fix it, because I’m tired of this losing. Y’all got to figure it out.’ There was no one that was getting in his face back, because we were hearing him and we took it as, ‘You have a serious right to be angry.'”
At the time of this locker room explosion, McKinney was only 22 years old and in his second season as a pro. The three defensive captains at that time — Logan Ryan, Jabrill Peppers and Blake Martinez — are no longer with the team. McKinney has since stepped into the role of both team captain and defensive play-caller, under new coordinator Wink Martindale.
McKinney is a player the new Giants regime is looking to build around starting this season.
Why Xavier McKinney Had a Right to Call Out the Offense
As the unnamed player in the story above correctly pointed out, McKinney had every right to voice his frustration with the offense. Not only was he having a breakout season at safety, the defensive back had also put up some points of his own earlier in the season.
With this pick six against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 9, McKinney scored more touchdowns than wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney scored all season — combined.
McKinney recorded two of his five interceptions in 2021 in this game, as the Giants went on to beat the Raiders by a final score of 23-16.
A Mic’d-Up Example of Xavier McKinney’s Leadership
Last month on Twitter, I shared this video of Giants (and former Alabama) teammates Xavier McKinney and Evan Neal. In the video, McKinney, who is wearing a microphone under his pads, is encouraging the rookie to help establish a winning culture on offense.
This tweet was widely circulated, as both Giants and Alabama fans celebrated McKinney for this candid moment of quality leadership.