Struggling New York Giants right tackle Evan Neal chided his detractors in a chat with NJ Advance Media on Wednesday, encouraging them to “boo louder,” among other things, before retracting his remarks in a social media post hours later.
Neal, the seventh-overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft out of Alabama, was a part of the Giants offensive line in their 24-3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night. The line allowed 11 sacks. He jokingly gestured for the home crowd to deliver more of the verbal vitriol during halftime in response to their boos.
“They were booing us, so I said, ‘Boo louder!'” Neal told NJ Advance Media on Wednesday, before insisting that the opinions of his critics was not among his concerns.
“Why would a lion concern himself with the opinion of a sheep? … The person that’s commenting on my performance, what does he do?” Neal said. “Flip hot dogs and hamburgers somewhere?”
In the interview, Neal added that the Giants’ booing demonstrated that part of the supporters were “fair-weather” and “bandwagoners.” Last season, New York went 9-7-1 and won a playoff game, but in its two home games this year—both of which were in prime time—the Knicks have been outscored 64-3. The Giants’ 18 sacks in their opening two home games are the most by any club in their opening two home games since sacks tracking began.
In a letter published on Wednesday night to X, formerly Twitter, Neal subsequently expressed regret for his remarks, stating,
“I am wrong for lashing out at the fans who are just as passionate and frustrated as I am. I let my frustrations in my play + desire to win get the best of me. I had no right to make light of anyone’s job and I deeply regret the things I said.
“We are working day in and day out to grow as a team and this was an unnecessary distraction. I apologize.”
Neal, who argued in the interview that he is improving after a difficult rookie season, gave up a team-high seven pressures against the Seahawks on Monday, according to Pro Football Focus. This season, he has taken 20 total pressures. Neal ranks 39th out of 65 qualified tackles with an 84.8% pass block victory percentage.
The young lineman is now being scrutinized as a result. In his second season, the Giants really needed him to improve because the interior of the line already had significant issues.
Neal, who acknowledged that he frequently sees negative social media comments because he is tagged, insisted that he is not particularly interested in the views of others.
“Most critics really don’t understand the game of football to the level that we understand it in this building,” he said. “So why would a lion concern himself with the opinion of a sheep? I’m just going to focus on Evan — and getting better. I honestly do not care what anybody has to say about Evan Neal, because they’re going to talk anyway.
“At the end of the day, I put a lot of good things on film. But people are going to go and find the bad reps, and that’s what they’re going to highlight. That’s what they’re going to put out there. I can’t control that. So why should I care?”