If you ask people across football about the Giants, they'll focus on one thing: The team lacks character.

Not characters. The Giants have those. But character.

"No leaders," said one AFC front-office executive.

This was again evident when a Giants player, in a text to B/R on Thursday, confirmed an ESPN report that one of the reasons defensive back Eli Apple was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team was he got into a verbal altercation with one of the assistant coaches. ESPN.com's Jordan Raanan reported the argument was with cornerbacks coach Tim Walton.

The player said of Apple: "He's the worst teammate I ever had."

It's rare to hear one NFL player describe another that way. It almost never happens.

The in-fighting you see on the team...the ugliness...the suspensions: It's what occurs when you fail to draft or sign true leaders.

"You're seeing with the Giants," the executive explained, "how one or two guys can poison an entire locker room."

But only if that locker room doesn't have an antidote.

If you want to understand why the Giants are a discombobulated mess, let's go back in time. The year was 1998, and one of the greatest leaders the Giants ever had was on a rampage.

New York's offensive line had been playing terribly and Michael Strahan, who years later made the Pro Football Hall of Fame, had seen enough. He and another brilliant leader on the team, linebacker Jessie Armstead, walked into the meeting room where the offense was gathered.