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EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - AUGUST 18: Xavier McKinney #29, Dexter Lawrence II #97 and Kayvon Thibodeaux #5 of the New York Giants run out onto the field before a pre-season football game against the Carolina Panthers at MetLife Stadium on August 18, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants defeated the Panthers 21-19. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images|

How many captains can you find in this photo?

To be a team captain is a great honor. A captain is entrusted with football's weightiest responsibilities, like calling heads or tails, or relaying to an official whether his coach wants to decline a penalty or not, and nothing else beyond those two things. But captaincy is about more than practical tasks. It's proof that you have the singular esteem of your teammates—that you are one of the rare few—that you are special. If you weren't, they'd just be going around handing out captaincies left and right!

That's so many captains. A cornucopia o' captains. Nearly 20 percent of Giants are captains. Look at me; I am the captain now. It would not have taken much extra space for the Giants to instead list their starters who aren't captains.

It is plausible that the Giants' captain will take a snap, fake a handoff to the Giants' captain, with the time bought by some nice blocking by the Giants' captain, complete a pass to the Giants' captain. If this is not enough to pick up a first down, they can have the Giants' captain kick a field goal, or turn the ball over and trust in their five-captain defense to make a stop.

The NFL rulebook is clear on this: A team gets six captains, max. Not that anyone polices it. Captain inflation has run rampant in recent years. In 2019, five different teams named seven players as captains. In 2021, the Bills, innovators in the captain space, went to eight. Last season, when three teams named eight captains, Buffalo upped the ante to nine. Brian Daboll wasn't about to let his old team hold that record for long, however. Fuck it; we're doing 10 captains.

Once upon a time, you had a captain on offense, a captain on defense, and maybe one on special teams. Then someone decided linemen on both sides of the ball needed their own captains. Then the secondary. Then the linebackers. The Giants' innovation in captain-naming this season appears to be giving the defensive tackles and the defensive end groups their own separate captains. A captain in every room! We are, by my math, only a few years away from some team indicating the true respect in which its players are held among their peers by naming 52 captains, leaving out only Eli Apple.

One lucky commenter on this post will be named New York Giants team captain.

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