Ben McAdoo refers to criticism, anonymous quotes as 'fake news'

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Several anonymous New York Giants players criticized coach Ben McAdoo in recent weeks and expressed their opinion that the second-year head coach had lost the team. When the report was published by ESPN’s Josina Anderson, it was met with a sharp response from the locker room. The players didn’t like their teammates dishing anonymously, and several players used the word “cowardly” to describe their actions.

McAdoo said Thursday that he had an open-door policy and implored anyone with a complaint to come speak with him personally. He went with the “fake news” approach on Friday as his 1-7 team prepares for a matchup this Sunday on the West Coast against the San Francisco 49ers.

“I think they’re excited to go play, excited to go get back on the field,” McAdoo said of his team. “When you have a setback like we did last week, and some fake news, I guess you can call it this week, some drama. I think it’s good to go out and play the game you love to play.”

Why fake news?

“Anonymous quotes,” McAdoo said.

So he doubts they’re real?

“I’m saying it’s anonymous,” he answered. “There are no names behind it.”

Anonymous isn’t exactly the same as fake. Fake news seems to indicate McAdoo doesn’t believe it’s true and that players wouldn’t be upset with their coach or what has unfolded during a disastrous seasons.

“I’ll let you define it for me then,” he said. “It’s anonymous.”

McAdoo didn’t address the subject with the team through Thursday. He didn’t think it would be something that affects their preparation or play this Sunday.

“It’s not an issue,” he said. “I like to help the players who have issues. It’s not an issue for the team. We can handle it. We’re strong. You saw the players respond in the locker room [Thursday]. I thought they did a great job.”

He was referring to the way the Giants’ players publicly called out the anonymous leaks. Veteran offensive tackle Justin Pugh said they should’ve been man enough to put their name on their work. Defensive captain Jonathan Casillas called the offenders’ actions “cowardly” and said he didn’t want to play with anyone who wasn’t all-in. Defensive tackle Damon Harrison called them a flat-out “coward.”

Safety Landon Collins also mentioned that they seemed to know the directions the anonymous quotes were coming from. He said the locker room would eventually find out, if they didn’t know already.

McAdoo didn’t see any of this showing up on the field against the 49ers.

“I don’t think it’s taken a toll,” he said. “The way last week worked out, I think we’re excited to go jump on a plane, go across the country and play in a ball game.”

The Giants were blown out by the Los Angeles Rams, 51-17, on Sunday for one of their worst home losses in franchise history. Their defense was accused of quitting. They get a chance to respond this week from the “fake news” or anonymous quotes or whatever McAdoo wants to call it against one of the NFL’s two winless teams and rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard.