Injured Sintim has become a Giants fan

Clint Sintim has come to grips with the cruel reality that he’s not going to play this season.

But that hasn’t stopped the injured Giants linebacker, who suffered his second torn right ACL in less than a year on Sept. 1, from staying positive and rooting on his teammates.

“There’s no real benefit for me to be negative about the situation,” Sintim said inside the team’s practice locker room on Friday. “The best thing I can do is cheer from my house on Sundays, and hope they don’t evict me for too much noise.”

Expectations were extremely high for Sintim heading into the 2011 campaign. He was expected to serve as Mathias Kiwanuka’s backup and have another chance to prove that he was worthy of being selected in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft.

But during the Giants’ final preseason game in New England, Sintim’s right knee bent awkwardly as he was trying to make an open-field tackle, causing him to go down to the ground. Sintim had to be helped off the field and couldn’t put any pressure on his right leg. The following day, coach Tom Coughlin confirmed the worst: Sintim had torn his ACL and patellar tendon. His season was over.

“I came out with the mindset that this was gonna be a big year for me, and I put myself in a situation where that would be the case, but it didn’t happen,” said Sintim, who also tore his ACL in December 2010. “It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it goes. Everybody has their time and their opportunity. I’m hoping that last year wasn’t the end of my opportunity, but I gotta do what I need to do. I’m gonna rehab, get stronger and come in with the same mindset next year.”

Sintim, who comes in and rehabs at the team’s practice facility everyday, said he’s hoping to be ready for the start of training camp, but didn’t want to make any guarantees.

“By no means am I kicking the bucket, it’s just life,” he said. “There’s much worse things that could’ve happened. I still have the opportunity to play and I’ll cherish that and maximize it as long as I can.”

While Sintim hasn’t been out there playing, he considers himself both an extended teammate and a “top-dog fan.” And that’s why he was inside the practice locker room on Friday, gathering autographs on a football, just two days before the Giants take on the 49ers for the right to play in the Super Bowl.

“I think this team is a special team,” Sintim said. “Each one of these guys has their own story, their own issues and injuries. Everybody’s going through something, and for them to put it together in the fashion they are right is incredible.

“And because I’m not directly affiliated, I wanted to get something to commemorate the moment, just in case they win the big one, so I can say look, I got a ball signed by the whole team.”

All season long, Sintim has been traveling back and forth from his place in West New York to his family’s home in Virginia. But he has always made time to watch the Giants.

Sometimes he watches from home with members of the practice squad. Other times, he heads out to the bar and tries to keep a low profile.

“I just wanna watch the games like everyone else,” he said. “Once you tell people [you play for the Giants], they think you have inside information, and I don’t know anything. I just want to cheer like everybody else.”

Sintim called his team’s unlikely playoff run “bittersweet.”

“You’re happy for these guys because you know what they’ve been through,” he said. “I come in here and rehab every day and I how hard these guys work and how dedicated they are to winning and I want to be part of it.

“But I’ve come to terms with what it is. And what it is is I’m not going to play this year.”

It’s unfortunate. At the same time, Sintim isn’t about to wallow in self pity. Come Sunday, he’ll be rooting on his teammates, just like everyone else. And maybe one day, he’ll be able to tell his grandchildren about that autographed football, and what the teammates that signed it meant to him.