Tonya Reiman




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 Spokesperson & Media Personality 

Language of a Losing Team? Read Their Bodies

By LEE JENKINS NOV. 29, 2006

Tonya Reiman and Maxine Lucille Fiel do not know much about football, but they are fluent in body language, one of many areas in which the Giants have appeared suspect recently.

Flailing arms and shrugging shoulders and drooping chins were on display in the fourth quarter Sunday, when the Giants blew a 21-0 lead against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville and lost for the third time in a row, 24-21.

“It’s like they all needed a B-12 shot,” Fiel said yesterday after watching tape of the game. “It’s like nobody was home.”

Reiman and Fiel noticed Coach Tom Coughlin crossing his arms. In their playbook, that was a defensive posture. They saw quarterback Eli Manning biting his lower lip and said that was a sign of regret. They watched the Giants’ players bowing their heads when they were still way ahead.

“Even when they were winning, their body language wasn’t all that good,” Reiman said. “They seem to have a defeatist attitude. You see disagreement and restrained anger. There’s not a lot of communication among them.”

Reiman and Fiel usually analyze politicians and celebrities. They dissected a Giants game tape that was provided by The New York Times. Reiman, a public speaker based on Long Island, has evaluated Terrell Owens, the Dallas Cowboys’ fiery receiver. Fiel, a writer and consultant based in Queens, has evaluated baseball players, golfers and the racehorse Funny Cide.

“This is extremely important in sports,” Reiman said, referring to body language. “If you’re trying to work together, you need some kind of rapport. You show rapport through body language.”Photo
A body language expert said Jeremy Shockey’s tattoos and his emotional outbursts during the game made him seem scary. CreditJim McIsaac/Getty Images 

The Giants could not show a united front against Vince Young, Tennessee’s dynamic rookie quarterback, and now they must pull together to stop their season from slipping away.

The Giants are still in contention for the playoffs. They have a 6-5 record and can improve their fortunes with a victory on Sunday against the Cowboys, their chief division rival. But if they fail to snap their slump, Coughlin could lose his job and Manning could lose his standing among the game’s top young quarterbacks.

Manning, the son of the former New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning and the brother of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, was picked first in the 2004 draft and is being paid $54 million to lead the Giants regularly into the playoffs, if not to a Super Bowl.

No one questions Manning’s arm strength or his bloodlines, but his subdued demeanor has prompted concern about his leadership. In his third pro season, he still does not often come across as one of the guys.

“Manning is like a movie star,” Fiel said. “He seems sort of elite, detached, above everything. I think he’s an introverted, locked-up guy, not very connected to the others. Nobody speaks to him. He acts so alone.”

The Giants are not rushing to his aid. When Manning overthrew Plaxico Burress in the fourth quarter, Burress could have helped his quarterback by trying to make a play on the ball. But Burress stopped running his route, allowing the Titans’ Pacman Jones to intercept the pass.

Burress watched as the interception led to a touchdown and eventually a loss. “It was an indication he had given up,” Reiman said. “It was such a lack of effort, a lack of spirit. I didn’t understand it.”

Burress, the Giants’ primary receiver, has had a few such lapses.

In the final moments of Sunday’s game, Reiman saw Jeremy Shockey, the Giants’ tight end, scream at a television camera.Photo
Tonya Reiman studied the body language of the Giants from a tape of Sunday’s loss. CreditAndrew Gombert for the New York Times 

“It made me blush,” Reiman said.

Fiel, seeing Shockey’s colorful tattoos and unruly blond curls for the first time, gave this assessment of his mind-set:

“Oh, is he mad,” Fiel said. “He looks mean and very tough. But I like him. I want him to be my bodyguard. He’s scary. But he’s authentic.”

While football players often pride themselves on their stoicism, the Giants tend to advertise their emotions, the consultants said. Tiki Barber, the Giants’ tailback, and Shockey have complained verbally and publicly this season about the team’s coaching staff.

Now, they are joined by a chorus of new observers. After the rookie defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka failed to tackle Young on a critical play late in the fourth quarter, Reiman wondered why Coughlin did not offer encouragement.

“I don’t see any positive reinforcement from the coach,” Reiman said. “He always seems to have a downtrodden look.”

Coughlin, stone-faced through his first two years as the Giants’ coach, recently has shown some cracks. Running up and down the sideline Sunday, he seemed to realize what was at stake, for his career and the team’s future.

“The guy is suffering,” Fiel said. “He looked like his eyes filled up with tears. It is all going on inside of him.”

Asked what could save the Giants’ season and Coughlin’s job, Fiel responded like a true New York sports fan, trying to propose a trade.

“They need to get that other No. 10, that guy from Tennessee — Young,” she said. “He’s so joyous, so joyful. You can feel his joy just watching him. He has so much energy. He’s like a dancer. Maybe he can inspire the Giants.

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