New York Giants draft pick Corey Ballentine suffered “non-life threatening” injuries in a Sunday morning shooting that claimed the life of his close friend, Dwane Simmons.
By all accounts, the Topeka, Kansas shooting was random and did not target Ballentine or his friend, who were leaving an off-campus party thrown by members of the school’s women’s soccer team.
Despite Ballentine being considered a high-character guy who was simply an innocent target of a seemingly random attack, WFAN’s Mike Francesa used the shooting to rip both Ballentine and the Giants, implying the young defender is a trouble-maker while also calling the team a “laughingstock.”
“When you finish your draft and stress how you went out of your way to take the right kind of guys, guys that you want on the team, guys that are going to be great character guys and you stress that as strongly as the Giants did, it looks pretty bad when one of them gets shot on a Saturday night. It does not look good. It’s just more of the same for the Giants, who just can’t get out of their own way, no matter what they say,” Francesa said on Monday.
“It’s sad to see the Giants become a laughingstock that they have around the league.”
Ballentine’s Father, who was elated to have not lost his son to a random act of violence, shot back at Francesa in the face of his entirely off-the-mark comments.
“This is the kid that that guy wished he had as his son,” Karl Vaughn told the New York Post. “It was just two blocks from his house — it was not a thug area or a hoodlum area. It was just wrong place, wrong time.
“He has had his nose to the grindstone for so long, and he had really worked hard, very hard, for a long, long time. We went through that draft, and it was really hard. My son is a grown man. He can go out and celebrate a little bit. Who doesn’t go and and celebrate with their friends?”
Vaughn went on to point out that the Giants fully vetted Ballentine before the draft. Francesa, of course, had no idea who Ballentine was until his name was called.
“I tell you what. You can pick up every stone and every rock on the ground, and you won’t find a smidge of dirt tied to that boy,” Vaughn said.
“He never had a discipline referral, never been suspended from school. He was an honor-roll student. . . He got called to the principal’s office once in ninth grade — and that was because somebody stepped on his feet and he turned around and said stop. Because he raised his voice at somebody. And I’m in the principal’s office saying, ‘Why am I here?’”
Fracnesa later expressed relief that Ballentine is expected to survive, but wouldn’t walk back the insinuation that he was a bad character kid.
A few former Giants replied to the shocking comments via Twitter.
While Francesa’s hardcore listeners will undoubtedly try to defend his erroneous and slanderous take on Ballentine, there’s no denying these shots have become personal in nature after his relentless over-the-top criticism of the Giants have created a divide between the two side.
By all accounts, Ballentine is a high-character young man with his head on straight, so Francesa’s implications are nothing short of irresponsible at best.