This is quite sad.  You’ve probably seen it: Mark Ingram, author of the greatest play in Giants Super Bowl history this side of this, is going to the can for at least seven years.

Ingram’s latest transgression – his seventh criminal conviction in the past 23 years – is a federal money laundering and bank fraud conviction.  Apparently, he laundered $200,000 in what he thought was drug money, but was actually given to him by an undercover cop as part of sting operation.  He also cashed more than $300,000 in counterfeit checks.

In the past few years, Ingram’s also done time for stealing a credit card from a golf course in his hometown of Flint, MI, and possessing more than $3,000 in counterfeit checks (again).  He was also charged with breaking and entering into a garage in an attempt to steal a purse from a car, but those charges were dropped.

It gets worse.  (And yes, this is pretty much a straight regurgitation of the AP article.  But this is bad stuff.  And if you’re a Giant fan, attention must be paid.)

Before being sentenced today, he had skipped his three previous sentencing hearings.  One time, he claimed an irregular heartbeat as an excuse: Basically, he said his heart was palpitating while he was driving to the hearing and he didn’t want to risk the cardiac episode that might ensue if he actually showed up.

As for the current charges, he actually pleaded guilty to them three years ago, but has tried to revoke the guilty plea.  In the process, he has firing three court-appointed defense attorneys who refused to file papers he thought should be filed.

Instead, Ingram filed these papers – basically pertaining to why he shouldn’t be sent to prison – himself.  One of his contentions in the filings was that he was immune from prosecution because he has diplomatic immunity as a head of state.

If this seems like rather erratic behavior to you, you aren’t alone.  Prosecutors referred to one of Ingram’s court filings as “rambling, confusing, outlandish, and largely incoherent.”  Clearly, it would seem likely that something is seriously wrong with this guy mentally.  But Ingram disputed this, saying, “I have not verbally on the record said anything about being a patriot or a head of state.  There was some case law that I presented that had some of that literature, but they’re trying to make me sound like I’m from outer space.  I don’t pretend to be a lawyer, but I’m very sane.”

That’s all the information that’s really out, so we are left to draw our own conclusions and ask our own questions.  And my first question with all this is: What happened to the guy’s money?  I know football players don’t make that much, but this guy played 10 years in the NFL, for Christ’s sake.  He must have been on the most ridiculously self-destructive path from the moment he cashed his first check – and probably before that – but it’s hard to fathom how you possibly fuck your life up that much.

My second question is: Isn’t it clear that the guy’s not right in the head?  Is he on drugs or something?  This wasn’t reported at all, but sleazy counterfeit schemes that always to get busted, stealing credit cards, and breaking into a car to steal a purse smack more of Tyrone Biggums than a former professional athlete.

Anyway, it’s a sad story, and the G-Men family (fuck all this “Nation” crap, foisted on us by SportsCenter as it is) grieves.  But as the man’s life takes its latest and saddest turn, let us remember that Mark Ingram is very important figure in Giants history. 

If not for David Tyree and Eli Manning, his moment of greatness would have been the single most heroic play in the history of the franchise.  Before there was David Tyree, there was Mark Ingram, just like before there was the shocking upset over the high-powered Patriots, there was the shocking upset of the high-powered Bills.  Like the Tyree play, there was no earthly reason why it happened: It was simply one of those miracles that underscored the specialness of our championship run, a moment where the G-Men were touched by the football gods.

I’ll never forget the NFL Films narration in the 1990 Giants video yearbook, “After the catch, seven yards and five tacklers stood between Ingram and the first down, a goal that appeared hopelessly out of reach.”  Nor will I forget Dan Dierdorf’s call during Super Bowl XXV: “We asked Hostetler who his favorite receiver was, and he said, ‘Ingram.  He works harder for me.’”