Sunday, January 11, 2009
From my wife's high school.....
my wife dawn in the middle,during her heyday as a Ledford cheerleader....
Hedgecock’s Hard Hits Liven Up Giants
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
With an accent of North Carolina and the style of Gomer Pyle, Madison Hedgecock elicits smiles and prompts banter.
Published: January 9, 2009
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — After a recent practice, fullback Madison Hedgecock stood in the Giants’ locker room discussing facial hair, which has grown on him lately. He mentioned the mustache of the professional wrestler Hulk Hogan.
Despite his tractor-driving persona, Hedgecock has the physique and the showman’s flair for Hogan’s line of work. Might Hedgecock someday consider wrestling? He quickly dismissed the notion, but his smile widened.
“I might be good at it,” he said, pointing to the side of his head and twirling his index finger. “I am a little different.” Then the 6-foot-3, 266-pound Hedgecock grabbed a team aide for a precise pantomime of wrestling techniques.
As the slow-motion demonstration continued, Brandon Jacobs tried to leave the room, dodging Hedgecock’s gyrations as he rolled his eyes and scooted by. “Excuse me, country boy,” Jacobs said. “Cock-a-doodle-doo!”
Hedgecock is the fullback who clears paths for Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw, the running backs for the Giants, who will play the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday in an N.F.C. divisional playoff game at Giants Stadium.
Before and after practices and games, Hedgecock entertains his teammates with his humor and his random observations. With an accent from North Carolina and the style of Gomer Pyle, he elicits smiles and prompts banter.
When someone asked Hedgecock about the Giants’ linemen, he said they were all “ugly and fat” in a voice loud enough for them to hear. One of the eavesdroppers was Kevin Boothe, a backup lineman.
“He’s a special guy,” Boothe said of Hedgecock. “He’s full of comments. He talks about his farming expeditions. A lot of people don’t realize some of the stuff he says is pretty intelligent. You’ve just got to listen to him.”
And sometimes they just have to watch. When Hedgecock scored the only touchdown of his career, on a 2-yard pass reception in a 37-29 victory at Arizona on Nov. 23, he brushed away his teammates, squatted in the end zone and pumped his arms. He later explained he was “rowing to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl” and added that a Giants executive told him it was the worst touchdown celebration ever.
Earlier, against San Francisco, Hedgecock was bumped by a 49er after a play. He responded by falling over backward as if in a dead faint. This tricked an official into penalizing San Francisco. “That’s one way to get on TV,” Hedgecock said.
Between whistles, however, Hedgecock is all business. Jacobs and Ward each gained more than 1,000 yards this season. Jacobs was asked about Hedgecock’s help. “Madison goes in there headfirst,” he said. “He clears the holes out. I am glad we got Madison in the killer deal from St. Louis.”
The Giants chose him on waivers from the Rams early in the 2007 season.
Hedgecock heard he was cut from St. Louis while driving a combine on his day off. He does similar chores these days in a rural area of New Jersey.
Hedgecock has no tattoos and no plans for any. “I’d write something stupid and have to erase it,” he said. He enjoys topics that are not city slick.
When asked about his beard and mustache this week, he said he was trying to look Amish because the Giants are about to play a Pennsylvania team. Jacobs, Ward and Bradshaw are known as Earth, Wind and Fire, so what should Hedgecock be called?
“We call him the Preacher because he says he likes to baptize people when he hits them,” Ward said. “He’s the best fullback in the N.F.L. by far. The offensive line is the bread and Madison’s the butter.”
On a few passes this season, Hedgecock appeared to have butter on his fingers when he dropped balls. He said this week that he had a dislocated finger that has since healed.
He caught eight passes for 52 yards this season, including a 13-yard gain for a first down in a critical 34-28 victory over Carolina on Dec. 21. His receptions usually come after he blocks: short tosses as a late option for Eli Manning.
Hedgecock carried the ball only once on a handoff this season. He was stopped for no gain on a third-and-1 against Carolina. “They stunted and there was nowhere to go,” he said. “They had us.”
But he excels at blocking. Kevin Gilbride, the team’s offensive coordinator, said that Hedgecock primarily hits linebackers but that he has become sophisticated about rescuing plays when defensive linemen beat offensive linemen.
“It won’t be noticeable necessarily to the outside world, but his teammates appreciate it and I know his coaches do,” Gilbride said. “He adds significantly to the toughness that we have as an offense.”
Danny Clark, a linebacker, said Hedgecock “will bloody his nose and he’ll wipe it off and keep going.” He added: “I don’t think every linebacker in this league looks forward to lining up against him. He’s a stud. He’s a blue-collar guy. He’s the epitome of a New York Giant.”
Hedgecock, sometimes a man of many words, occasionally turns taciturn and speaks mostly with body language: the shrug, the smile, the tap on the shoulder of his questioner. How would he define himself? “I’m just a humble fullback,” he said.