Giants’ Xavier McKinney holds grudge against Eagles for pathetic tank job

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Things did not exactly go as planned for safety Xavier McKinney during his rookie season in the NFL. The New York Giants’ second-round pick missed 10 games as the result of a foot injury, and what playing time he did receive only came late in the season.

Still, McKinney worked hard and knew his opportunity to shine was bound to come before the 2020 season reached its end.

In Week 17, McKinney’s patience and dedication paid off.

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With the Giants leading 23-19 late in the fourth quarter, the Dallas Cowboys, led by quarterback Andy Dalton, were driving. If they scored, the game and New York’s season would be over. But if the Giants held, an NFC East title remained a possibility.

On a third-and-goal from the Giants’ 17-yard line, Dalton launched a pass over the middle to tight end Dalton Schultz. McKinney read the quarterback’s eyes and broke on the ball, snatching it out of the air for his first career interception. The Giants were still alive.

It was a redemption moment for McKinney, who had felt like he let the team down earlier in the season. And if the Philadelphia Eagles were to defeat the Washington Football Team, McKinney’s heroics would send the Giants to the playoffs.

But that didn’t happen. Instead, the Eagles opted to tank in humiliating fashion, essentially handing Washington the division title and ending the Giants’ season. Head coach Joe Judge unloaded on Philadelphia shortly thereafter, and McKinney admits he still holds a grudge over the entire situation.

“I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t [hold a grudge], man. I’m not gonna lie,” McKinney said during an appearance on the All Things Covered podcast. “That was my first pick, and knowing the year that I had just being injured pretty much the whole year and then coming back and being able to help my team get to where we were supposed to be. And then going home, we all celebrate in the locker room, everybody happy, we’re like, ‘Hey, hopefully the Eagles take care of business, which I’m sure they will.’

“It was a winnable game for them. And actually when I came home, I ain’t even watch the game because I had a feeling something like that was gonna happen — it was gonna be something weird going on. Because they had stuff going on the whole year with the whole quarterback situation.”

McKinney was in a group chat with other Giants’ defensive backs during the Philadelphia-Washington game and when the tone of his teammates shifted, he finally decided turn on the game.

“I’m like, ‘Damn, what the hell? What’s going on?’ So I go look, I turn on the game and I start watching, and I’m like, ‘Damn, they just about to give it up.’ … They gave it up, man,” McKinney said. “It was rough, it was rough to see it happen like that. But everything happens for a reason.”

The Eagles would get dragged through the mud for their pathetic tank job. Head coach Doug Pederson was eventually fired and the organization was thrust into a rebuild. But there was no solace for McKinney or Giants… They knew that missing the playoffs was ultimately their cross to bear.

“A lot of the games that we lost, it was all on us. It wasn’t nothing that the other teams did. That was kind of just what we got at the end of it,” McKinney said. “So we’ve just got to be better as far as the little things and how we handle our business.”

Still, what the Eagles did lingers in the mind of McKinney and everyone else within the Giants organization. And you had better believe that will be remembered when these two teams square off in 2021.