EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Struggling New York Giants right tackle Evan Neal took aim at his critics on Wednesday, telling them to "boo louder," among other things, in an interview with NJ Advance Media, before walking back those comments in a social media post hours later.
Neal, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft out of Alabama, was part of a Giants offensive line that allowed 11 sacks in a 24-3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night. At halftime, he reacted to the boos from the home fans by gesturing sarcastically for them to bring more of the verbal discontent.
"They were booing us, so I said, 'Boo louder!'" Neal told NJ Advance Media on Wednesday, before insisting that the opinions of his critics was not among his concerns.
"Why would a lion concern himself with the opinion of a sheep? ... The person that's commenting on my performance, what does he do?" Neal said. "Flip hot dogs and hamburgers somewhere?"
Neal also said in the interview that the boos that showered the Giants showed that some of the fans are "fair-weather" and "bandwagoners." New York went 9-7-1 and won a playoff game last season, but has been outscored 64-3 in its two home games this year, both in prime time. The 18 sacks allowed in the Giants' first two home games is the most by any team in its first two home games since sacks started being tracked.
Neal later apologized for his comments in a note posted to X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday night, writing, "I am wrong for lashing out at the fans who are just as passionate and frustrated as I am. I let my frustrations in my play + desire to win get the best of me. I had no right to make light of anyone's job and I deeply regret the things I said.
"We are working day in and day out to grow as a team and this was an unnecessary distraction. I apologize."
On Monday against the Seahawks, Neal, who insisted in the interview that he's improving following a rough rookie season, allowed a team-high seven pressures against the Seahawks, per Pro Football Focus. He has allowed 20 total pressures this season. Neal has a pass block win rate of 84.8%, which ranks him 39th of 65 qualifying tackles.
It has put the young lineman under the microscope. The Giants badly needed him to elevate his game in his second season, with the line already having serious questions in the interior.
But Neal, who admitted he sees plenty of the nasty social media comments because he gets tagged, maintained that he's not all that interested in the outside opinion.
"Most critics really don't understand the game of football to the level that we understand it in this building," he said. "So why would a lion concern himself with the opinion of a sheep? I'm just going to focus on Evan -- and getting better. I honestly do not care what anybody has to say about Evan Neal, because they're going to talk anyway.
"At the end of the day, I put a lot of good things on film. But people are going to go and find the bad reps, and that's what they're going to highlight. That's what they're going to put out there. I can't control that. So why should I care?"