Antoine Bethea
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Newly-signed New York Giants safety Antoine Bethea, who’s going into his 14th season in the NFL, embraces the underdog role. 

When the New York Giants lost Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins to free agency, putting the pieces together in the defensive backfield became a huge priority. That’s when Big Blue was able to get safety Jabrill Peppers from the Cleveland Browns through the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. Furthermore, the signing of veteran safety Antoine Bethea added depth to the unit.

The latter was able to sit down with Steve Serby of the New York Post and make it known how he embraces his role as the “underdog.”

“I feel as though everybody at some point in life has been an underdog,” Bethea said. “And, all my life I’ve been an underdog. And even entering my 14th year in the league, I still feel as though I’m the underdog because honestly, I don’t think I get the credit that I deserve. And I’ve never really said that, but I relish that. That puts that fire underneath me. It’s just something that I thrive off of.”

The Giants will be the fourth NFL team that Bethea suits up with. The Indianapolis Colts drafted him in 2006 out of Howard. He remained with them until 2013. Bethea then spent three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers from 2014-2016 and two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals from 2017-2018.

Despite being a three-time Pro Bowler, Bethea still feels as if he hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves.

“I really can’t put my finger on that,” Bethea said. “At the end of the day, it is what it is. I go out there and do what I need to do. I prepare like I need to prepare. I play the game the way I think the game should be played. At the end of the day, when the smoke clears, I think I’ll get that.”

Bethea has racked up 1,224 combined tackles, 24 interceptions and 74 passes defended through 193 games in his career. By the time the 2019 season rolls around (his 14th-career season), Bethea will be 35.

Despite his age, the veteran defensive back still finds the motivation to go out there each and every week.

When asked about what drives him, Bethea said “Still having that underdog mentality and still having that chip on the shoulder. And also just playing for the name on the back of my jersey. Being able to, when I walk away from the game, that OK, Bethea, he played the game the right way, he played the game the way it was supposed to be played at the safety position, but also he was a pro’s pro.”

The deal Bethea signed with Big Blue is for two years. The defensive backfield will most likely consist of him and Peppers at the two safety positions along with Janoris Jenkins and Sam Beal at the corners.

It’s an area of the field that the Giants will definitely have to improve on from last year. In 2018, the Giants defense was 23rd in the NFL with 252.8 passing yards allowed per game.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.