Robert Ayers (160375)

New York Giants defensive end Robert Ayers knows that in the unforgiving world of the NFL, no one is shedding a tear for him or any other injured player. The 29-year-old veteran from Jersey City, N.J., is a realist in accepting physical setbacks as an unfortunate, yet preva- lent, aspect of a sport in which superlatively conditioned men push their bodies to anatomical limits. Before facing the Jets this past Saturday night at MetLife Stadium, the two teams’ shared home field, Ayers sustained a lower-leg injury during the pre- game warm-up that was by and large inexplicable.

The incident caused him to sit out a game in which he was expected to receive significant playing time. Ayers was subsequently cryptic in providing de- tails as to which body part was affected.

“My ankle area,” he said in a meeting with the media Monday. “Put it like that.”

It is not uncommon gamesmanship for NFL players and

teams to offer minimal information regarding injuries to avoid providing opponents a potential competitive advantage.

“I’d rather not answer that,” Ayers replied when asked if he could have played if it had been a regular season game.

“In this league, you’ve got to be able to play through injuries,” he continued, using general football speak. “You have to be able to play through pain and things like that. I feel like I’ve been able to do that throughout my career a lot. So have a lot of other guys on this team. Sometimes decisions are made and you have to do things a little smarter, not necessarily tougher.”

The culture of the NFL demands that play years are both cerebral and tough. But at positions such as defensive end, toughness is a more coveted asset. With several key defensive players managing or re- covering from injuries, most notably Jason Pierre-Paul, the unit is suspect less than two weeks away from their regular season opener.