WTF Happened to Hakeem Nicks?
- Updated: November 26, 2013
This past Sunday, as the Giants watched their slim postseason dreams fade into the chilly night, Hakeem Nicks stood in street clothes on the sideline. The Giants most physically gifted receiver observing his team’s biggest game of the year. Days later, the reason cited for Nicks absence was “lack of practice time during the week.” That statement is quite telling. It naturally conjures a lot of questions. I choose to ignore all of those complicated ones and instead focus on the one overarching mystery: What the f&*! happened to Hakeem Nicks?
Let me preface all of this by saying I’m a Jets fan. Not a Giants hater. Huge fan of the NFL. My wife is diehard Big Blue. My father is cut from the same Wrecking Crew cloth. I’ve watched almost every G-Men game as far back as I can remember. So, it’s not with malice I bring up the curious case of Mr. Nicks. It is with genuine bafflement. I’m just not getting it.
Sure, players flame out early. Yes, some prodigious talents are maddeningly inconsistent. This one I’m struggling with, though. This has gone beyond inconsistent and trending towards ineffective. I never believed Nicks was “all the way there.” Mainly, because I thought the ceiling was SO HIGH. In watching Nicks, I was constantly floored by the talent. The combination of routes, speed, strength, height, presence, all of it. On countless occasions, I’d see Nicks make a play and turn to whomever was watching and listening (or even if they weren’t) and proclaim something along the lines of…”this guy should be one of the most dominant receivers in the League.” Not Calvin Johnson, but maybe a poor man’s version.
And not that he was ever even a mini-Megatron in his “heyday,” but 2010 and 2011 were legit seasons for Nicks. Both campaigns he snagged more than 70 passes for more than 1,000 yards. There were 18 touchdowns over that time period. The future looked very bright.
Last year, he finished the year with 53 receptions for 692 and three scores. He has played 10 games in 2013. He sits at 42 catches for 620 yards. Nicks has yet to reach the end zone. A receiver once considered a pillar of the Giants future is now talked about as trade bait. Sports radio callers question his heart. To the casual observer, he’s only an above average player. So, what happened to the former first round pick? Is it all injuries? Does he simply need a change of scenery? Is his ego bruised thinking Victor Cruz has become Eli’s man? I don’t know the answer.
All I know is that Hakeem Nicks is a 25-year old NFL receiver whose potential seems (still) almost limitless, but whose production is plummeting. I don’t know what Nicks’s future as a Giant looks like. Wherever he lands, he’s a “reclamation” project worth putting some time into. Heck, I know a team in green that could use a big, athletic target. Hmmmm.