Former Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka is co-hosting a new sports betting TV show on MSG.
Apparently, if you make a name for yourself chasing quarterbacks for the New York Giants, the next line on your resume is “television host.”
The previous lines on former defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka’s resume are impressive: 2006 first-round draft pick out of Boston College; a nine-year pro career with the Giants; a two-time Super Bowl champion.
Now, like Michael Strahan, Kiwanuka is transitioning to the small screen.
Kiwanuka is currently one of the hosts of “Odds With Ends,” a new weekly sports betting television show that started airing on MSG Networks on Oct. 24. Kiwanuka hosts alongside another former Giant — Super Bowl 42 hero and retired NFL wide receiver David Tyree.
The show aims to immerse itself into the ever-growing sports betting landscape. But what will the program, which airs Sundays from 11:00 a.m. — noon ET, feature and entail?
“Odds With Ends is a sports betting show from a player’s perspective,” Kiwanuka told ESNY earlier this week. “So David and I go through all the matchups throughout the week. We make some picks, we do picks on money lines and spreads, and then David will do some wide receiver and offensive prop bets and we’ll go through those. And we have help — Sean Little, our betting expert, because David and I don’t come from strong betting backgrounds.
“This, for me, it was an opportunity to get back into football and get back into sports. I do our radio show on ESPN Radio 98.7FM with Anita Marks and then I do this show Odds With Ends, and what it’s done for me is brought me back to watching Giants, Jets, and all football in general, and having a real vested interested and a reason for understanding and breaking down teams and their defenses and schemes and what the moves and matchups are going to be. So it’s really just a fun way to take a look at betting and giving it a player’s perspective. There are some things that affect players that the general public doesn’t really know and understand…And so for our viewers, they’re getting an opportunity to get a little different insight.”
Kiwanuka was obviously a part of one of the most memorable eras of Giants football. Like numerous other former Big Blue players, such as Eli Manning, David Diehl, Chris Snee, Kareem McKenzie, and fellow defensive end Osi Umenyiora, Mathias played a crucial role on a pair of Super Bowl-winning ballclubs — both during the 2007 and 2011 seasons.
Ever since that latter championship (Super Bowl 46), however, the Giants have essentially remained in the mud. There’s been a few instances of hope to temporarily mask the overwhelming despair, but the bottom line is the Giants have made the postseason just once since that unforgettable 2011 run.
The commencement of the 2021 season didn’t look much different than the previous seasons of this disastrous era, but the Giants have improved in recent weeks. A three-point loss to the Chiefs sat in between wins over the Panthers and Raiders, one of the more talented ballclubs in the AFC.
Is the recent success valid? Or just a fluke?
“When you look at the last couple of games, so the Raiders, Chiefs, Panthers — those are three solid teams…I said early on in the season, when you lose your signal-caller on the defensive side of the ball [Blake Martinez, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear in Week 3], you lose a middle linebacker — it’s more than just his production. It takes a while for a team to adjust to having a new signal-caller there,” Kiwanuka explained. “And I think what we’re seeing now is the defense is finally adjusting and they’re playing well and they look like they’re having fun and it’s enjoyable to watch — this is the best start through nine games they’ve had since 2016.”
Will this success potentially be an indication of what’s to come? Could that and this current bye week provide the Giants with a spark entering the second half of the year?
“Coming up — obviously the Buccaneers [in Week 11], but then you have the Eagles, Dolphins, Chargers, Cowboys. There are winnable games on their schedule. So making a run? That’s very possible in my opinion,” he said. “On the offensive side of the ball, Daniel Jones has played well, not exceptionally well, but he’s been efficient. This would be the time for him to mature as a quarterback, as a game manager, get Saquon [Barkley] back, got to get some production out of the tight end position — whoever it is, Kyle Rudolph or Evan Engram, there just needs to be more production. He needs some help there.
“But I’m big on culture…and when I went back prior to the season even starting, there was a noticeable difference in the way this team conducted itself than the way the teams conducted themselves probably in 2015, 2016, like right around that time when I retired — there’s attention to detail, there’s a sense of urgency…there’s a lot of the effort and intent to get better. So that’s what I draw on. I do believe this team can make a push. I think where they’re going to struggle is down the stretch when you don’t have a lot of veteran players who have been through this before and have an understanding of how long and grueling the season can seem when you’re in it. But I think that they’re in it, they’re in a good place and the NFC East is definitely up for grabs….divisional games are always toss-ups…I’m optimistic.”
Kiwanuka is certainly familiar with the adversity the Giants could be facing down the stretch. Don’t forget — the Super Bowl 42 team was a Wild Card ballclub that needed to win three consecutive road games in the NFC playoffs en route to the miraculous title victory we all know about. The Super Bowl 46 squad, on the other hand, needed to win its final two regular-season matchups just to get into the postseason. The rest was history.
Finding themselves 1.5 games back of the final NFC Wild Card spot and 3.5 games back of the division-leading Cowboys, the Giants have much ground to cover.
But you can’t say this franchise hasn’t done it before — we’ve seen crazier things in this crazy league.
Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY