With racism and social injustice at the forefront of today’s current climate, the potential number of NFL players primed to kneel during the national anthem will likely reach all-time highs this season.
New York Giants superstar Saquon Barkley in particular is a highly-publicized name who could possibly join the said group in quiet protest, as he’s spearheaded the players’ movement to condemn racism.
While the team has supported players in the past who’ve chosen to quitely protest during the anthem, they’ve readily encouraged their players to stand.
However, if you were expecting any pushback from first-year head coach Joe Judge on the matter, you are sadly mistaken. Judge told Art Stapleton of NorthJersey.com that he will support any players who choose to kneel during the national anthem.
We’re going to support the players. We’re going to support the players. And I’d say, at this time, we haven’t had any game day discussions on what’s gonna happen [regarding potential protests], and I think it’s important to put that out there, that it’s a way’s away from us right now.
We will have those discussions. We’ll talk with the players. We’ll talk as coaches with the players. Ownership has been involved, and they’ll continue to be involved.
We’re going to make it clear that we’re going to support the players and the causes they are fighting for.
You can’t just say you support the players, you have to show your support.
Judge is Here to Listen
In his interview with Stapleton, Judge detailed the issue of social injustice and the bond it’s continuing to build in the Giants locker room. Judge notes how critical it was and will continue to be to take somewhat of a back seat in the situation and truly hear what his players are preaching.
The most important thing that we really had to do as coaches, as leaders of the team, is listen. That was the biggest thing. We talked to our players, we have to be a team that has open communication. We have to be a team that can have tough conversations.
We have to be a team that supports each other. And all that has to start with listening, and we had to have very, very critical team meetings in which we can listen and further our understanding.
These were very enlightening meetings, passionate meetings, and there were a lot of things that came up in those meetings that I needed to hear, that players need to be able to voice for me to hear, for our coaches to hear. And there were things that coaches had to voice for me to hear, and for the other coaches to hear, and that’s critical.
Judge admits that this is just a “starting point for us,” and that the “conversations will continue into training camp, through the season and they’ll be ongoing,” adding “there’s not going to be an offseason for doing the right thing.”
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How Will Giants Fans React to Players Kneeling?
Judge revealed that the team’s owners have been “very involved in the meetings” pertaining to social injustice.
That shouldn’t come as much as a surprise. Owner John Mara has gone on record supporting Colin Kapernick in the past, stating that he still has the ability to be an NFL quarterback, and even sent staff to attend Kaepernick’s workout last season.
However, some Giants fans weren’t as receptive to the former NFL QB’s actions. In an interview with MMQB back in 2017, Mara stated that kneeling for the anthem is “an emotional, emotional issue for a lot of people, more so than any other issue I’ve run into.”
During the interview, Mara claimed that in “all my years being in the league, I never received more emotional mail from people than I did about that issue” in regards to Kaepernick. Letters such as “If any of your players ever do that, we are never coming to another Giants game.”
It will be interesting to see if those same fans keep that energy should the face of their franchise opt to drop to one knee this season.
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