Jul 012021
 
Share Button

Tiki Barber, New York Giants (August 2006)

Jordan Raanan, the ESPN NFL nation reporter who covers the New York Giants, interviews Eric on this history of BigBlueInteractive.com. We discuss the site’s origins, evolution, impact, challenges, online community, and much more.

Audio links:

Aug 072020
 
Share Button
Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (August 6, 2020)

Sterling Shepard – Courtesy of New York Giants

BBI GUEST APPEARANCE ON GIANTS HUDDLE PODCAST…
In a wide-ranging discussion of current issues surrounding the New York Giants, Eric from BBI joined John Schmeelk on the Giants Huddle Podcast at Giants.com on Wednesday afternoon. The audio for the show is available at Giants.com and YouTube.

AUGUST 7, 2020 SAQUON BARKLEY CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants running Saquon Barkley addressed the media on Friday (see video at Giants.com and YouTube):

Q: Does this feel like starting over with this franchise? Last year was sort of a bridge with Eli and Zak around and sort of a link to the history. Now it’s all new guys.

A: Yeah, I would definitely say it’s a fresh new start. I heard you guys talking with Shep earlier about history. I do think we are doing a great job of, especially when we are in zoom meetings, understanding the history, understanding the guys before us. There is a tradition here. Like you said, Shep is the longest tenured Giant and he has only been in the league for five to six years, I guess. It’s a fresh new start, we are learning every single day, on the offensive side and on the defensive side. Learning a new scheme and system and trying to focus on the little things to get better every single day. Capitalize on the things we are able to do.

Q: When you study the history of the franchise, is it with an emphasis that we have to create the next chapter in the history?

A: I wouldn’t say there’s an emphasis of we have to create the next chapter. You have to understand your history and what we’re known for. The Giants are known for being tough, physical and doing the little things right. That’s something that Coach Judge and all the coaches have made a focal point for us in the short time that we have been here. That’s what we try to attack every single day and try to get better every single day.

Q: Have you spoken to Ezekiel Elliott about playing with Jason Garrett? Does his success make you excited about the prospect of playing for Jason Garrett this year?

A: I have not talked to Zeke directly about how he’s been coached by Coach Garrett or the system and stuff like that. I’m definitely good friends with Zeke and we respect each other, but I haven’t reached out. Zeke has had a lot of success. Not only Zeke but the running backs before him, McFadden, Murray, Barber, the list goes on. I think ever since Coach Garrett has been the head coach or OC, they have been at the top in the running game every single year. I wouldn’t say their success excites me, just what we have. I love our coaching staff, I love the energy they are bringing, and the attention to detail they are emphasizing for us. It’s only been small, it’s only been through walkthroughs, but I’m really excited.

Q: What’s the biggest area of growth you have seen with Daniel compared to a year ago? How excited are you about going into this season, his second year, with you two together?

A: Definitely excited for DJ. We definitely got a lot closer from this point where we are from him being a rookie to us actually hanging out, working out together and stuff. He’s a hard worker, he’s a heck of a player, he’s very talented. You just grow, not just saying system-wise but as a player. Being more comfortable from your rookie year to your second year. I know for myself from my first year to my second year how much more comfortable I was just being in the locker room and talking with the guys. That’s where you are going to grow, and you are going to continue to see him grow in that area. He’s a talented player and hard worker and I’m really excited to see what he is going to do this year.

Q: Have you noticed him stepping up and being that vocal leader going into this camp? I know it’s tough with just the zoom meetings. Now that you guys are back together, have you seen him take up that leadership role as a quarterback?

A: Yeah, I have definitely seen him take up that leadership role. You can see it through his work ethic. I have seen him work out a couple times. You just know he is taking that step. I am really excited for his growth. I am really excited to see what he is able to do this year.

Q: This has been a year where you guys have had to adapt. Aldrick was let go after the car accident. Today the Broward County prosecutor’s office filed charges against DeAndre Baker, so I assume he is not going to be around this season. How difficult has this whole year been?

A: Obviously there have been some things going on within the world and everything. At the same time, we are presented with an opportunity to get better every single day. That’s what we have to do. That time that we do have, we have to follow the procedures, especially with our masks. Try to keep everyone safe, because at the end of the day you are not just protecting yourself, you are protecting everyone in this building. You have to focus on that and then when we are on the practice field, we are out there to work, try to work at a high level and each rep get one percent better each day.

Q: Is it disappointing to see some of the guys have the off the field problems?

A: I’m not really going to be speaking on that. I’m just focusing on coming in here working every single day. Trying to grow as a leader and get better every single day to help my team.

Q: What do you want to see from yourself going into year three?

A: What I want to see from myself is just growth. I feel like I have been saying this answer so much in my first two years. I’m really focused on trying to get better in every area of my game. I feel like I have so much more room to continue to grow and there is so much I can continue to add to my game. I would say some big focal points are pass pro, in between the tackles, outside the tackles, catching the ball, ball security. Every single day, try to focus and try to get better in every area of my game. I am a big stickler when it comes to stuff like that. Definitely when our coaches sat down, they really have us focused on the details and all the little things matter. That’s the focus and where I want to improve my game, which I guess you could say is everything.

Q: Did any of your offseason training come about specifically because of the high ankle sprain?

A: No. To be completely honest, my approach was to try to get bigger, stronger, faster, which I think I was able to accomplish this offseason. Those injuries, the high ankle injury I had last year, that comes with the game. I got caught in a bad position at a bad time. It’s those other injuries that I want to try to take care of. Make sure I am hydrated right, make sure I am stretching. Make sure I am working with our trainers, and PT. Obviously when we are back into the regular season, all the extra stuff I do on the outside. Just try to focus on all the little things that I can control. The injuries that you can’t control, that’s just part of the game that I love. Hopefully I can stay away from that.

Q: How hungry are you to be a part of a winning team? Your success personally aside, it’s now been a few years since you have been a part of a team that finishes with a winning record?

A: That’s the motive. That’s why we come in every single day and why we work every single day, to get better every single day, one percent better. Yes, do we want to have a winning record? Yes, that’s every team. I’m a big believer, I know what we are getting taught and what’s going on now, that’s not going to happen if we don’t take care of the little things. I want that and if I’m hungry for that, which I am, I have to focus on today. Right now, after this meeting, get some nutrition and go into meetings and try and learn and get better in the system and this offense.

Q: When you look at this time right now, there are a lot of expectations that are very low outside of your building. New head coach, second year quarterback in a new system, things like that. What do you see as reasons for optimism? You have been around the team that’s lost. What tells you that this could be different?

A: What tells me this could be different, one, it’s a brand-new year. It’s a fresh start. From what I have seen in these first couple of days is we are steps ahead, in my opinion. We are coming in, we’re locked in. Are mistakes being made, yes, that’s part of the nature of learning a system and learning a new offense. We have what I believe is really great coaching staff starting with Coach Judge to Coach Garrett and so on down the line. They are doing a tremendous job of having us focusing on the little things and focused on situational football, which I think is a part of our game we can improve on from this year to last year.

Q: How much thought did you give to opting out? What is your level of concern with playing a season in the middle of all this?

A: Great question. To be completely honest, I believe in our training room and our team and facility and our owners. They have done a tremendous job of putting the procedures in place and giving us the right equipment to make it as safe as it could be. I want to say thank you to those guys because they are doing a really good job and every single day, they put us in the best position to stay healthy and safe to be able to compete at a high level.

Q: How concerned are you that you might not make it through the full season? You see what’s going on in baseball and there have been problems along the way? How much is that something you guys talk about and think about?

A: When you see the stuff that is going on in baseball, I guess you could say it crosses your mind. We talked about this as a team, we have to focus on how we can take advantage of this. How we need to stay committed to the procedures of wearing a mask and even when outside following the procedures to stay as healthy as we can. There hasn’t been that much talk in the locker room. We talked about it a little bit, what happened in baseball. The only way we can handle it and try to focus on the season is by focusing on us and making sure we are following the procedures to try and stay healthy.

Q: What has it been like this training camp when you are not at the facility? What would you be doing at night that you are not doing now? What’s missing from the nighttime and how are you following the protocols?

A: In camp, it’s really similar. The only thing that’s different is you are allowed to be in the hotel or your house. Instead of going to a hotel, I go home. In camp, it’s different. When the season starts, you just have to be smart. If you want to go grab a bite to eat, you have to be smart. When fans come up and ask you for pictures or an autograph, that’s something that I have seen happen to me, I have to make sure I’m wearing my mask and make sure they are wearing a mask. Obviously, still be polite. That could be that little situation that could take a turn for the worst. That’s definitely in the back of your mind. Just go in every single day and try to do the best you can. Still try to live the life that you love to live. Just do it in a smarter way because you’re not just protecting yourself, you are protecting the people in your home. When you come here, you are protecting everyone in this facility and everyone that they have at home.

AUGUST 7, 2020 STERLING SHEPARD CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard addressed the media on Friday (see video at Giants.com and YouTube):

Q: I wanted to ask you a little bit about some of the things that happened in the offseason, your participation in the “I am George Floyd” video. Were you surprised at how quickly the NFL responded to that? Can you just tell us a little bit about how that came together and how that’s going to continue through the season?

A: Yeah, Mike Thomas had approached me about it, and I’m very supportive of it. That was something that I was very passionate about. I’m very supportive of change in the right way. That’s just kind of how it came about and how I heard about it. But yeah, moving forward as a team, we have things in place that we’re getting out to these communities and getting active. That’s something that I wanted to do, was take action.

Q: Are you going to wear a name or initials on your helmet, and do you know which ones yet if you are?

A: We haven’t really discussed it as a team yet, but we want to be unified. That’s something that we’ll talk about as a team.

Q: Just to get back to the first question, were you surprised about how quickly the league responded to that? I think it was probably within 24 hours that they came out with their own video.

A: Yeah, I think the impact of the video was pretty big. I expected them to handle it in the right way, and it seems like they did.

Q: You saw all of the opt-outs around the league. You have two young children. Did you give any consideration to opting out yourself? And your thoughts on the players who did?

A: I’m supportive of all the players that did. Everyone is going to make a decision based on what’s going on around them in their household, and make the decision that’s best for them. That’s the way we approached that as a family. We sat down and talked about it, and I made the decision that was best for my family.

Q: Along those same lines, what are you doing during camp? Are you going home at the end of the day? Are you staying at the hotel?

A: Yeah, I’m staying with my family. I have to get up a bit earlier because I’m not by the stadium, but yeah, that’s the decision I made to be with my family.

Q: How much of a conscious decision is it going to be to sort of limit activities when you’re not at the facility so you’re not exposing yourself, as much as you can control?

A: Yeah, for the past few months, I’ve been with the family not really doing much anyway. It’s kind of continuing the same thing. Just chilling with the family. It’s good family time.

Q: No Eli (Manning), no (Zak) DeOssie. You’re the longest-tenured member in that locker room and really the longest-tenured football player in all of New York, including the Jets. What does that mean? What does that come with? Did it come quicker than normal? You were “Young Shep” last year. Now I guess you’re “Old Shep”.

A: Yeah, I might have to shake the “Young Shep” off. I was thinking about that. I did not know that about the whole New York with the Jets and everything. But yeah, just set a good example for the young guys and kind of teach them about some of the different rivalries that we have and how important those games are to the New York Giants as an organization.

Q: You tell me, does Leonard (Williams) count? He’s been in New York one year longer but he changed teams. Does he count or are you the old guy?

A: Leonard’s up there, but if you’re talking about our team, I guess I am at the top.

Q: In terms of this offense, for you, I should have done the math but for how many new offenses, new wrinkles that you’ve had to learn since you’ve been here, what do you like about it? What have you seen from the guys you’ve trained with, obviously, with Daniel (Jones) and Saquon (Barkley) and Evan (Engram)? What has you most excited about what the new system brings?

A: Yeah, it’s an offense that utilizes everyone’s skill set. It’s a lot of moving pieces as well, which I like about it. I like to move around the field and the guys that I’ve played with like to move around, too. It makes it tough on defenses. Yeah, those are some of the things that I like about it, just being able to utilize everyone’s skill set.

Q: Do you feel like you guys have gained an understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish yet, or is that still ongoing?

A: Yeah, it’s still in the works. I’m proud of the guys and the way that everyone has been approaching each day. It’s a lot on us right now with all of the information being shoved at us. We’re kind of on a time crunch. I’m proud of the guys and the way we’ve been working.

Q: For you, I don’t know if we’ve ever even asked you this, but what does the idea of being a captain on the team mean? Have you ever thought about yourself being voted as a captain here since like you said in your previous answer, you’ve been a young guy, young guy, then all of a sudden, you’re kind of a veteran here?

A: If that’s what ends up happening and that’s the way my team sees me, then I’ll be happy to wear that badge and take that role. I’m happy with whatever role. I can lead in different ways, like I have for the last four years that I’ve been here. Whichever role they have me in, I’m going to find a way to lead.

Q: Have you spoken to Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott or any of the other Cowboys players about what it’s like playing for Jason Garrett and what to expect during the season?

A: No, I actually haven’t. I was going to reach out to Zeke at some point, but I never got around to it. I like to get my own view on the coaches and how they operate. That’s kind of what I’ve been doing these past few days.

Q: Just as a quick follow-up going back to the start, did you speak with Joe Judge at all about the Black Lives Matter video or social justice causes? I was wondering what his reaction to all of that stuff was.

A: No, I didn’t talk about that specifically, but we did have a talk as a team.

Q: You’ve had some time to spend with Daniel this offseason. You’ve worked with him a whole bunch. What do you expect from Daniel Jones 2.0, and what were those workouts like when you guys worked in New Jersey, and he also held the ones in Texas?

A: They were good. We were just trying to get down some of the material. Now that we’re here, that’s pretty much all that we’re focused on. All that stuff is behind us. Some of the things we were working on, Coach has added some of the little nuances in, different route techniques. Some of the stuff we thought we were doing right, but just fine-tuning those things. We’re really just focused on getting these plays down and getting down what the coaches like and getting on the same page with each other.

Q: What are your expectations for him? What are you expecting from Daniel Jones in his second year?

A: Just to continue to do what he’s doing. He’s going in the right direction. He comes in here and works his butt off every single day. If we keep doing what we’re supposed to do as a unit and he continues to work as hard as he’s been working, I feel like he’ll be doing great.

Q: I want to go back to a question that was asked earlier about you being the longest-tenured Giant here. With the departure of Eli and Zak, kind of like all the history that carried over from year to year, from generation to generation, has kind of evaporated. What are you doing or what can you do, I mean you haven’t been around long, but you are the longest-tenured guy. How are you as a team re-capturing some of that history, starting to develop an understanding and appreciation of that history from recent years?

A: When we were going through the OTA period on the Zoom calls, the coaches would have some trivia questions for us, so we did this Kahoot! challenge to kind of get guys going and understanding the history of the organization. Those were some of the different ways that we’ve already began to teach some of these newcomers and guys that really don’t know much about the history of the Giants, a way to get them caught up.

Q: How important is that to know the history of the team? Some guys come in and they’re all about ball. But I get the impression just from talking to some guys over the years that they don’t really learn the history of the franchise. The Giants are one of the most storied franchises. How much of an emphasis is being put on that?

A: Yeah, I think it’s very important to know the history. You have to know what the guys before you have done and how they played football, and to continue to play that way because that’s what this organization was built on and that’s what it’s used to. I think it’s important and the coaches do as well. That’s the reason they had us doing those different Kahoot! challenges and trivia questions.

AUGUST 7, 2020 LEONARD WILLIAMS CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams addressed the media on Friday (see video at Giants.com and YouTube):

Q: What has this offseason been like for you? When you got the franchise tag, was it your intention to get a long-term deal to stay with the Giants and what happened with that?

A: I think it’s always in the player’s interest to get a long-term deal, but that’s something that worked itself out between my agents and the organization. I’m just happy to be here, play with this team again, and learn about the guys that I’ve been with since last year. I got to know them a little bit more and play again with them this year. I’ve just been training hard and was ready for anything to happen. I was just trying to stay ready so I didn’t have to get ready.

Q: Was it disappointing to not get that deal and to be playing on another make good kind of contract year?

A: I wouldn’t say it was disappointing. I kind of knew the situation I was coming off of last year. I think it’s actually a good opportunity for myself. I’m looking at it as an opportunity. I’m not looking at it as something that’s bad. I’m looking at it as an opportunity.

Q: Obviously, the trade got a lot of criticism from outsiders and the franchise tag kind of got some criticism. Do you feel like you have anything to prove this season?

A: I wouldn’t say I have something to prove necessarily. I think the coaches know and my teammates know what I bring to the table or I wouldn’t be here. I definitely still feel like I’m playing with a chip on my shoulder at the same time, though. I’m ready to just go out here and play the best that I can. It starts today. It starts one day at a time. I’m not looking towards the future or next offseason or what’s going to happen a year from now. I’m just trying to get better right now and see what I can do for my team.

Q: You’ve obviously been in the league for a few years. Do you think there’s another level you can reach?

A: Definitely. I’m definitely still a young player in this league. I feel like I still have a lot in the tank. I still feel like I have a lot of years left in me to play in this league. I think I just need to keep going and take it day by day like I said.

Q: Eli Manning retired, Zak DeOssie retired, Bilal Powell is not here anymore. Leonard Williams is the New York football player who’s been in New York the longest. Obviously, you changed teams, but you’re the guy who’s been here the longest, the longest New York NFL player. What do you like about playing here? People are hard about this city, with us, with the fans, everything is scrutinized. Do you like it or do you almost wonder sometimes what it would be like somewhere else?

A: No, I love it. It’s a great media market. It’s crazy to think, first of all, that I’ve been here the longest. I’m only 26 years old. That makes me feel really old that I’ve been here the longest in New York. But yeah, it’s a great media, it’s a great city, great teams in this area historically and things like that. It’s great to be in a city like this, and you can take advantage of it if you can.

Q: Quick follow up. You’re on that Non-Football Injury list. Do you know how it happened, what happened, and when you expect to be back?

A: We can’t really talk about injuries. If somebody wants to get more information on that, you might have to bring it up with Coach (Joe) Judge or someone else on the team. I’m definitely making strides on it and doing the best that I can to get out there with my teammates.

Q: Two-parter for you. One, your first impressions of Sean Spencer, the d-line coach, what’s it been like working with him and getting on the field with him? Two, with this being kind of such a big prove-it year for you, is there something about this scheme and this system that makes you think this could be a breakout season for you?

A: Yeah, I love the scheme. I feel like our DC, Pat Graham, I feel like he’s a genius when it comes to x’s and o’s and stuff like that. I also love working with Coach Spencer so far. I like his energy and the way he coaches his guys. He’s real hands-on. He has that loud, deep voice that as a d-line coach, it’s kind of something that I like. I like it.

Q: I saw this offseason that you and Richard Seymour had gotten together and did some training. I’m not sure if it went beyond that initial meeting, but I’m just curious how that came about, what did you look to learn from him, what kind of parts of your game did you guys kind of focus on?

A: Richard Seymour is a good guy. He basically worked with my agent back in the day, Eugene Parker. I’m kind of working with his son now. They kind of linked us together. I went to Atlanta and met up with him. He brought me into his home, we watched film together. We just talked man to man about football and life and stuff like that. I feel like he’s just a mentor to me at this point. We’ve been able to keep in touch throughout the offseason and up to this point.

Q: With the film you watched together, did you watch him, did you watch you or both? What from his game can you bring to yours?

A: Not just mine or just him, D-line film in general and stuff like that. A little bit of both mine and his. He’s a really big, tall dude who uses power and I just feel like he was trying to teach me some of the things that he did. We worked out and stuff so he could see my body type and how I move and my strengths and stuff like that. He was giving me feedback and advice.

Q: We all want instant gratification no matter what profession we are in. How have you been balancing your desire to really take your game to the next level but at the same time realizing it’s a process. Coming over to a new system, a new team and having to learn it and then on top of that learning a new playbook and then having to learn a new playbook all over again.

A: For me, I definitely understand it’s a process. I got traded midseason, I had to learn a whole new team, a whole new system halfway through the season last year. Now I’m learning a whole new team and a whole new system. Every year is a new team, and now it’s a new system again. I understand it’s a process, not just with the system but in general, it’s a process. I don’t let too much outside noise get to me, I just try to work hard, keep the blinders on and keep working and doing what I can do.

Q: Right now, it’s projected that the starting defensive line is going to remain unchanged. It’s going to be yourself, Dexter and Dalvin. How important is that continuity and what have you seen in this new system that has benefitted the group as a whole.

A: I don’t know what’s set as far as who is starting. All I know is we have been competing and pushing each other and I think in general that’s going to fuel the team to be great and to be better. When you have young guys that are dedicated to working hard and getting better, it’s a great way to drive each other. I definitely respect those guys in the room, and I think we all have great respect for each other and we learn from each other.

Q: How are you expecting to be deployed in this defense? Are you expecting to play all over like last year? How exactly did you hurt your hamstring coming into camp?

A: For the second part, like I said, you might have to bring that up to Coach Judge or someone else in the building because we’re not talking about injuries. I’ve just been working on it and getting better. I’ll be out there with my teammates when I can. For the defensive part of it, it’s only week one. We are still installing a bunch of defenses. So far, I have been seeing myself in a few different positions. At the same time, I am not fully 100 percent with the injury. I’m sure stuff will change when I am back to 100 percent and once stuff gets fully installed. There is still week one stuff going on, it’s still an introduction to the defense to the team.

Q: If the schedule were normal, you would be a couple days away from your preseason opener. Do you think that the team and players will miss anything by not having preseason games? Do you need those couple of thumps against another team to get ready? Do you think everybody can roll into the regular season and it will be football as normal?

A: I’m not sure, I think it will be a little bit of a change and a challenge. I think some of the preseason games definitely help for younger guys who have never played in the NFL or younger guys who are working to make the team. It gives the coaches an opportunity to see them in a live game type of environment. At the same time, I think the team is doing a great job of creating that competitive environment to see everybody’s best. We’re making do with what we have. The coronavirus is affecting everybody in the world and we’re not excluded from that. We are doing the best we can.

Jul 312020
 
Share Button
Joe Judge, New York Giants (January 9, 2020)

Joe Judge – © USA TODAY Sports

JULY 31, 2020 JOE JUDGE CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Friday in his first training camp presser (see video at Giants.com):

Opening Statement: I hope everyone had a good summer. Right now, where we’re at, the coaching staff was in here on the 19th, really getting back together and start getting used to being in the stadium as a crew. We got the players in a short time after when you guys all saw in the media when it was released. Our early entry group right now is rookies, quarterbacks, first-year players and a few guys that were injured last year going through rehab in the offseason. Right now, we have a few more days left. By the end of next week, we’ll be able to get that early group on the field. Our veteran group right now is finishing up their testing and quarantining period. They’ll start their physicals tomorrow and we’ll see them in person on Monday. It’s a good point for us right now. We had a good, productive few days. It’s almost been a little bit like a rookie minicamp for us in terms of rookies getting on the field, getting them exposed to some of our new stuff for the first time in terms of being on the field, our strength and conditioning program and getting some walkthrough time with them. It’s been great with the vets, the quarterbacks especially, getting these guys on the field, being able to go through the systems with them. It’s been a productive couple days so far. We have another walkthrough tonight, then tomorrow we have some strength and conditioning programs. They’ll have off on Sunday and then Monday we’ll pick it back up. Any questions with anything we’re doing, fire away.

Q: I wanted to ask, I know it’s early but what have you seen about what kind of relationship, if any, Jason Garrett and Daniel (Jones) have been able to develop over this very unusual offseason and these first few days?

A: I’ll tell you what, it’s still early. These relationships are going to evolve over time. But I would say for our entire coaching staff, and it’s reflected, obviously, through Jason and Daniel, as well as Jerry Schuplinski and Daniel, our coaches work very hard and our players work very urgent to do what we’re trying to do, and that was in the virtual program, knock down these walls. Look, we were given the opportunity to work together. Just like we are right now, we had to interact. Communication was the biggest part, talking about the introduction of our schemes and systems, laying out some of the groundwork for our culture. We’re all looking forward to getting everybody in person, but you can tell that over time, the relationships will obviously… we’ll see more to it. But it’s been very positive to this point with all the players and coaches.

Q: I’m just curious, with all of the planning you put into how you thought this was going to take place, what has been the biggest challenge for you as a coach? Have you gotten a chance as the coach where you almost feel like you’re kind of coordinating everything and not really coaching football?

A: Look, I’ll be very honest with you, the other day was the first time I’ve been in a walkthrough where instead of being directly related to a specific group or running a period at a time, you’re walking around observing everything. By the time we got to our second walkthrough, look, my natural tendency is to be very hands on, so I find my way to groups and I know what I wanted to get across to different players. There’s definitely a lot of coordination that goes on. The planning is huge, but really ultimately, our job as a coaching staff, and my job, is to make sure we’re positioned to adjust accordingly and keep moving. That’s what I’ve seen right now from our coaches and players. We’ve got to figure it out, and right now everyone is figuring it out. Whatever we’re allowed to work with, we’re going to have to figure it out. We have to plan day by day. If that plan changes, we adjust and we keep going full speed.

Q: We’ve seen other sports try to launch here in this COVID atmosphere. Obviously, hockey and basketball seem to be doing okay in a pretty tight bubble. Baseball is having some struggles without that bubble. What have you told the players that they need to do and that they need to be aware of to make this football season work, not just for the Giants but really for the whole NFL?

A: The first thing we have to all understand is, everyone at this level has sacrificed to get here. We’re going to have to make some more sacrifices, whether that’s socially away from the game, how we interact with friends and family members throughout this season. But we have to make the right decisions. The biggest thing is everyone has to understand that all of our decisions directly impact each other. It’s not fair for me to go out and do something and put myself at risk and come in here and get players sick. That’s not my right. I’m not entitled to do that. We have to all make the right decisions, both in the building following the protocols and away from the building. I think ultimately as a league, we just need to trust that the plan in place that the league put, make sure we adhere to the protocols, make sure we wear the PPEs. Let’s be careful, let’s be cautious, but we can operate aggressively if we just follow the plan in place.

Q: I was curious if you guys, the coaching staff, have talked about, in the scenario that you were to test positive or if Jason (Garrett) or Patrick (Graham), if you had a succession plan and how you plan on dealing with that? I’m sure you have to plan for all scenarios this year.

A: We absolutely have. We have succession plans for the coaching staff. Once we get a depth chart in place at the end of the roster development, we’ll have plans for every player on the team, who the next man up would be. To be honest with you, my plan as the head coach as we go through training camp is not only evaluating players, but also evaluating the coaches in terms of interaction. It has to be the total chemistry of how a game day would operate. There will be decisions that we’ll make at the end in terms of going through the season. Those decisions may change as we go through the entirety of the season. But we’ll structure practices accordingly. We’re always in for developing every player, we’re in for developing every coach as well. We started talking back in the spring in terms of if any one coach, myself included, couldn’t come to work that day for any period of time, how would we address meetings, practice on the field, the game. We have to make sure we have a plan.

Q: Leadership is so vital during this COVID time, not only from the coaches’ standpoint but from the players’. Do you see players that are handling the leadership in this time period, adapting to protocols, and basically, even in a virtual fashion, showing you that this is going to work?

A: Our players are very committed to doing everything possible to make this work. Our team is committed to improving on and off the field on a daily basis. I would say in the short time we’ve been with the players in our stadium as far as the protocols, they’ve done their absolute best. Obviously, when you first get in, there are some natural tendencies you’re used to from being in a team environment that you have to start to distance yourself from, both physically and just, hypothetically, having a form of distance among the players. The leadership aspect of it, I think we’re going to see that emerge. We’ll have a leadership council, we’ll talk. Part of our culture is doing what’s necessary to be successful. At this time, to be successful, we have to stay healthy. The healthiest team has an advantage, and we’re going to do our part to stay healthy.

Q: Two questions, if I may. Given the fact that there are no preseason games, do you have a plan in place regarding a scrimmage or something where you can test out game day operations, which I imagine you’re going to want to do? I’ll wait before I ask the second question.

A: Yeah, absolutely. We have to do a good job of structuring training camp in that we’re able to evaluate the players first and make sure we make the right decisions while we form this roster. You can’t do that without playing full speed football, and you can’t have a safe team who’s ready to play on September 14th without having some full speed football, whether it’s a situation of intrasquad scrimmaging or intrasquad games. We’ll also develop the coaching staff as well through intrapractice communication and then within the scrimmages and intrasquad games. We’ll also divide the coaches up and make sure the necessary communication takes place. Then going back to an earlier question, we’ll make ways within scenarios of, within game communication where a certain coach isn’t there and practice those scenarios as well so we have a plan in place.

Q: Then my other question is you have some players coming off injuries. I don’t believe you put anybody on PUP (Physically Unable to Perform), but is everybody going to be able to go full speed? Evan Engram? Corey Coleman? Then I think you had a couple of other guys who had injuries they’re coming off. And Markus Golden, where do you stand with him?

A: In terms of Markus or any other player, there’s an entry process that everyone has to go through. The testing, the quarantining, then the physicals. Once these players clear that process, I’ll be happy to talk about all of them. To this moment, that’s one player who has not cleared the process. In terms of the question as far as being limited, I’m going to wait until all of the players clear their physicals to give you an absolute answer on that. Remember, these are guys that we still have not seen physically for some time. They’ve been sitting in a hotel now for about a week quarantining and testing. I’m going to let Ronnie Barnes and the doctors do the physicals. We’ll get all of the necessary information and see where we’re at right there. But Evan has been working hard throughout the summer. He’s been training and doing his rehab. We’ve had him out here with our group working and going forward, we’ll see where he’s at physically as we ramp up the intensity and the volume, and we’ll make our decisions from there.

Q: I’m sure not long after you got this job, you envisioned what it would be like to stand up in front of your whole team and address them for the first time as the head coach. Obviously, that has not happened yet. It will happen much differently when it does because of the situation. Are there a lot of players that you’re literally meeting for the first time, face to face, and when do you envision the first time you get these guys all in a room together?

A: In terms of our roster reduction, eventually we have to be at 80. That’ll be the first time you’re actually getting the entire team together at once. That will be the first time you get to talk to everyone at once, collectively. To answer your question, no, we don’t have any strangers. We’ve taken our time this spring to make sure everyone has gotten the chance to establish relationships with each other. It is the first time I’m physically seeing some of these players eye to eye. But the funny thing has been, even though we’ve been talking through the virtual world throughout the spring, these young guys came in, these quarterbacks, first-year players, you just pick right back up where you left off. We were very thorough this spring with how we prepared, how we launched into the program. This isn’t going to be the first time I will address the team in terms of our culture or what we expect. At this point, we’re really looking forward to getting training camp started and getting football on the field.

Q: When David Sills goes on the COVID/Reserve List and a player is asymptomatic like that, can you just describe how that response went, if you were pleased with how the club and the organization responded, if to your knowledge anyone else has caught it or tested positive since? Do you feel comfortable with how you handled that first positive test?

A: I have a lot of confidence in the way that our medical team has set up these protocols and how they’re handling everything going forward. I think our players will as well. We’re taking every possible step to make sure our players are coming into work every day and focused on football, but knowing that they’re safe if they follow the protocols and the plan we have in place. The biggest thing for us is any player who cannot be with the team on a daily basis due to any kind of illness is we can extend the meetings through Zoom like we did in the spring. The one thing is it’s not something foreign for our players now. They’ve already gone through an entire spring of it, so if they can’t be in the meeting room with us, they can be in a hotel room with whatever their personal situation is and still participate in the meetings and not fall behind on the mental aspect that day.

Q: I know it’s an ongoing legal situation with DeAndre Baker, but now that he’s on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, what’s the thought process in terms of you guys keeping him around? Also, as you start training camp, how is it going to look at the top of the depth chart at cornerback aside from James Bradberry?

A: To address the first part of the question, he’s not on our 90-man roster. Currently, he’s on the exempt list, so I’ll let the league deal with that issue. I’m not going to comment on any ongoing legal investigation. In terms of our depth chart, the entire team is really at the same point. Everyone has to come in and compete at ground zero and build their way up. Again, we had very productive meetings in the spring. We haven’t been on the field together yet besides the walkthroughs with this early group. I mentioned earlier, it’s been more almost a rookie minicamp-type atmosphere of getting guys on the field, getting them acclimated to our systems, just getting used to being on the field with the coaches and players together for the first time. It’s new for all of us right now. It’s a new staff, it’s the first time we’re meeting together on the field together, it’s the first time being with our players together. These are things that we’ve been able to take this early reporting opportunity to iron out some details and get on the same page.

Q: This obviously is not a normal season. Do you have to prepare differently for other things that may pop up along the way? How do you go about doing that?

A: It’s different for every situation. I think that my job is to make sure that we’re preparing for all the possible scenarios that could come up throughout the season. It’s not only things we’ve thought of already, but things that pop up as we go. ‘Ok, what if this happens? What’s our plan in place?’ Now you do that as a football team anyway. This year, you just take into a different account with COVID and how that may affect our team or other teams as well. But the biggest thing is just to talk about the situation. You talk out how you’re going to handle it. A lot of it is personnel oriented. A lot of it may be preparation based on meetings, how we had to do the spring virtually. In practice, how will that look? Right now, we have all plans for practice that will look as normal as can be. If that changes at some point, we’ll figure it out and we’ll adjust and we’ll keep on moving. We’re just not going to make any excuses for anything that comes up this season. We’re all here to play and coach football, we’re here to do it well, and we’re going to put everything into it.

Q: You don’t believe in the idea that because it’s going to be a wild season, you might get a pass in public perception?

A: There are unknowns in every season going in. This year is no different, it just has a different element that we haven’t dealt with before. As we go, we’ll see how things change and how they shake out. Right now, we are looking to go ahead and build the strongest team we can.

Q: Obviously with Nate Solder, the most important thing is his family and we read your comments about that. From a football standpoint, you lose your most experienced tackle. Dave (Gettleman) has been trying to build this offensive line to a strong point for three years. From a football standpoint, how secure are you with your offensive line and your tackles without Nate? From a salary cap standpoint, that opened up a lot of space under these rules. Do you expect to be active in free agency this summer?

A: We’ll always make the best decision for the team. We don’t feel right now that we have money burning a hole in our pocket. We just know there is a little bit more for us in the cap space right now. We fully support Nate Solder’s decision. I’ve known him personally going back to my time in New England. Not only have I known him, but I’ve had a relationship with him and his family. His wife Lexi is a great woman. Their children and what they are going through personally, this was not an easy decision. I don’t want to talk for Nate, he has put out his own words. From an organizational standpoint, we wanted Nate to play this year, but we fully support his decision not to because we absolutely understand what he is going through. This was not an easy decision for him, we talked about it a lot. At the end of the day, I am not going to try to talk a player into doing anything when it comes to the situation we are in right now. You have to make the decision personally that’s best for you and your family. I think Nate did that and we fully support him. From a football standpoint, we have confidence in all of our players. We still have to get on the field and practice and evaluate them, and that’s at all positions. Whether it’s the offensive line, skill positions, defense or wherever it ends up being. We have to see these guys perform under pressure and handle the loads in install and see how they perform when they are tired and in direct competition. There’s a lot of things that have to be done in a short period of time. We have to make good evaluations as coaches. I’ve got to set practices to make sure we can evaluate guys at multiple positions. We have to do a good job of making sure we see what every player does when he understands what to do and can play as fast as possible. That’s our job as coaches and teachers.

Q: Has any other player indicated he plans to opt out?

A: At the current moment, no.

Q: What went into the decision on Aldrick Rosas and what went into signing Chandler (Catanzaro) as his replacement?

A: In terms of who may be coming in, I’ll be happy to talk about that when they complete the entry process coming in. On the decision to release Aldrick, we felt it was best for the team based on all things being put together moving forward. I like Aldrick a lot as a person and I wish him the best of luck. I am not going to comment on the legal investigation, but we made a decision we felt was best for the team.

Q: You spoke a lot about versatility when you got hired and leading up to the draft. How big of a role did that play with the selection of Xavier McKinney and how do you see him fitting into to the secondary? How optimistic are you that we can play a full 16-game season?

A: I have a lot of trust in the plan put forth by the league. We spent a lot of time on this. When these players left, we signed off and took vacations. As coaches, we took a little bit of a break for about a month. It was 24/7 around the clock really working on making sure we got the facilities in order that we can bring our players in and have them work safely. We are doing everything we can, not to just be compliant but making sure we are staying ahead of issues that may arise. We are trying to educate our players on a daily basis. We have to enforce the rules as coaches. We have to rely on the leadership on the team to build the culture in the locker room. In terms of the optimism for a season, right now we have 16 games on the schedule and I’m looking forward to playing every one of them. To answer your question about X, versatility is huge part of our systems, offense, defense and the kicking game. Our defense is going to be multiple both by base scheme and based on game plan and who the opponent is. You are going to see four to six DB’s on the field in certain times. His role will be different based on different game plans. He’ll have a chance, like all are other players will, to establish what he is going to be in our defense based on how he performs in this next month of football.

Q: With Nate Solder gone for the year and based on who you have, some very young players are going to have to fill significant roles. Normally by now you have seen them on the field, tested them a little bit. How concerned are you in general about using rookies and young players in key spots anywhere this season when things are so unusual?

A: The age of a player doesn’t really ever bother me. We bring guys in to play. This isn’t like college where a young guy in the NFL is given a red shirt year. You have 53 and 54 guys on your roster, you have a limited roster. Everyone has to contribute and everyone has to play. One thing you hear a lot about and people get caught up in the word ‘starter’. You can only bring so many to an active gameday list, everybody plays. It’s not really significant who the first 11 on the field are. At the end of the game, everybody has a role, everybody has a very important job and everyone has to contribute. We are going to play all of our offensive linemen at multiple positions right and left. We are going to have a competition for every position. We are going to have multiple guys playing inside at center and outside at tackle. We are going to play all of our tackles at right and left to start camp and see who fits best where. Once we establish who should be on either side, we will go forward. That being said, we want to cross-train all of our players. You can’t just play right tackle or left tackle, or right corner or left corner. Based on depth and health of the team, it may require you in the middle or an entire game to play on a side you don’t normally play on. All our guys are working to switch sides and mirror their technique and play effective for a game.

Q: Do you expect there will be less movement at the bottom of the roster than there normally would be? If you claim a guy off of waivers or sign a free agent, you are not going to have them on the field for a full week?

A: That’s one thing we have talked about. This may a different training camp around the league in terms of the time of the claims. That’s not going to eliminate the roster moving, it’s still the National Football League and people are going to look to fill their needs and possibly improve their depth as they see guys on the waiver wire. The one thing I think you have to be conscious about as a coach is if you have to move somebody off the roster to claim somebody, you better have a plan in place for that week so you can say you are at 80 but you are really at 79 if that makes sense.

Q: I would think that would become more of a pressing issue once the regular season does start. Normally when you claim a guy on Tuesday, he probably wouldn’t even be available to you on that Sunday’s game.

A: You are absolutely right and that’s part of the discussions we’ve had in the claiming process. We don’t have a definite answer on how the regular season is going to go. At this point, we are kind of assuming it is going to be very similar to what we are looking at right now with the testing and quarantine piece. I think what you said is very fair and very true. You can no longer work a guy out on a Tuesday, Tuesday night he is doing meetings and Wednesday he’s practicing with the team. It’s important for us to establish depth. In terms of the practice squad, the league has allowed us to flex players up and down and the amount of veterans we can keep on the practice squad roster. That’s going to be key for all the teams and how they manage those 16 positions going forward.

Q: I know players are in a hotel now and they are quarantined. As the season comes up, how are you going to handle them when they go home? Are there some rules that you are going to put into effect to limit their access when they are home?

A: The league has put out some rules already with the agreement in terms of where they can and cannot go and be exposed to large crowds. The thing I want to emphasize with the team is we have to make responsible decisions, all of us. What I have to think about personally is, it’s not just where I go, I know I’m at the stadium or driving to my house. I have to be conscious of where my wife and children are. Who are they around on a daily basis? What am I bringing back to the team? There are some sacrifices we have to make. Like I said earlier, everybody has had to make sacrifices to get to this level. If the biggest thing we have to do is for half a year wear masks around each other, distance a little bit and when we go home, be home, I think it’s a pretty fair trade off to be a part of the National Football League.

Q: How did you decide to split up your 90-man roster for camp? Some teams are doing the quarterback thing where first string and third string are together and second and fourth are together. Is that something you are doing?

A: The league really established how we can split the roster. You have to go rookie to first year players and then vets in another group. What you had flexibility with was injured players and quarterbacks. We felt it was most beneficial for us now to keep all the quarterbacks with this first group. As we progress and have time to get on the field in phase two activities coming up next Friday, we can have the quarterbacks working with them on the field. The biggest thing we are thinking about right now at this point is physically to give our players a chance to get their bodies ready for practice. That’s why the league has set this up, that’s why the players and the coaches were very adamant about having a training period for the players. We have to remember, these guys can’t go from 0 to 100. You have to give them a chance to train and get their bodies in a position to be ready. They have to go out there without having to face an offensive or defensive player in front of them and just have football movement. There are things that when you train on your own, you just can’t simulate. It’s really the reactive movements that you are so vulnerable to. To avoid soft tissue injuries or have ligament issues, we want to make sure we take our time with this front part of this acclimation and give the players the full progression of lifting, running, walkthroughs and eventually getting to phase two activities. Eventually getting to padded practices and true training camp. For us, it was important to get the quarterbacks in that first group so we can start their clock right away and get them on the field and keep them healthy.

Q: You are getting 14 practices and I think 10 are padded, which doesn’t sound like a whole lot. With that said, how much of your evaluation of the players is going to be swung more towards the mental side. To understanding what the coaches are asking in the scheme of their specific roles. Does it change how you are going to evaluate as you go along?

A: It is kind of funny when you think about the way it was set up. When you talk to a lot of the coaches on the staff, you have to reach back to your previous experience. This is almost more like a college training camp because you are not worried about getting ready for a preseason game. You are not concerned about having a plan in place for a specific opponent. You really have more time to work on your own installs and what you can address within your own team at your own progression. The number of coaches on our staff, myself included, who have been through college football, we have thought back as to how you can have this progression. For us, there are waves to training camp. While we are having these walkthroughs on the field, we are going to really emphasize the mental part. We’ll bring these guys around in the systems and give them an opportunity to really learn this at a good learning and teaching pace. When we get the opportunity to get on the field, we have to really ramp it up. It’s not ramping it up to say here’s the green light, let’s step on the gas. You have to get the players’ bodies ready for competition. Each part of the season gets faster. Preseason is not as fast as the regular season, regular season is not as fast as the playoffs. Every round you go in the playoffs, it gets faster and more intense, that’s just the truth. Not that the players aren’t putting in max effort, it’s just the reality of the situation of how the teams get better as you go, the reaction you have to have and the intensity of the game. We have to do our part as coaches in ramping up the practices in training camp, so when we get to the regular season, our guys are physically prepared to play safely on the field.

Q: Some teams have talked about quarantining their quarterbacks. I don’t know if that would be Daniel (Jones) by himself or quarantining a back up quarterback. Is that something you are thinking about putting into action?

A: We are trying to keep all the players spaced out physically. In terms of just quarantining any one player at this moment, we want to have every player around here so we can have an interpersonal connection with them, get them on the field and train them.

Q: Will you have separate protocols for your quarterbacks just to keep those guys extra safe during the regular season or just in the building now?

A: I think we are doing everything we possibly can to keep our guys extra safe to be honest with you. Our guys know to go back to the hotel, they are in their room. We keep them late enough here anyway. They don’t have a ton of time once they leave the building. Normally they get back, they read their notebook and then their head hits the pillow and they’re out and they start the day over again. We are just making sure all of our players, not anyone specific, but all of our players keep spacing, follow the protocols. We put a lot of work into that. It’s just part of understanding what we are dealing with. We can’t make this the biggest obstacle. We are going to have 16 games of opponents that are going to be a lot tougher than just following protocols. We have to get ready right now and follow all the little details and get ready for the season.

NATE WOZNIAK RETIRES…
New York Giants offensive lineman Nate Wozniak has retired from the NFL. The 6’10”, 280-pound Wozniak was originally signed by the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Saints (2018-2019), Minnesota Vikings (2019), and Atlanta Falcons (2019). The Giants signed Nate Wozniak to the Practice Squad in December 2019.

BBI GUEST APPEARANCE ON BIG BLUE PODCAST…
In a wide-ranging discussion of current issues surrounding the New York Giants, Eric from BBI joined the D-Man and Stormer Big Blue Podcast on Thursday evening. The audio for the show is available at Spotify.

ARTICLES…

Jan 092019
 
Share Button


Eric Kennedy of BigBlueInteractive.com and Greg Breton of the ManCave Huddle join YES Network’s Chris Shearn on his latest “And…We’re Off” podcast. We talk about the end results of the team’s disappointing 2018 season and discuss, in detail, the end-of-the-season press conferences by Head Coach Pat Shurmur and General Manager Dave Gettleman. We also speculate on what direction the New York Giants may go in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Dec 182018
 
Share Button


Eric Kennedy of BigBlueInteractive.com and Greg Breton of the ManCave Huddle join YES Network’s Chris Shearn on his latest “And…We’re Off” podcast. We discuss the New York Giants’ disappointing 17-0 loss to the Tennessee Titans that ended the team’s slim playoff hopes. We then talk about what the team needs to do moving forward in order to improve, including at quarterback, on the offensive line, and on defense.

Dec 112018
 
Share Button

Eric Kennedy of BigBlueInteractive.com and Greg Breton of the ManCave Huddle join YES Network’s Chris Shearn on his latest “And…We’re Off” podcast. We discuss the New York Giants’ 40-16 annihilation of division-rival Washington Redskins. Topics discussed include Pat Shurmur, Eli Manning, Saquon Barkley, Alec Ogletree, and a host of under-the-radar performers. We also talk about changing team culture and the outside chances of making the playoffs.

Dec 042018
 
Share Button

Eric Kennedy of BigBlueInteractive.com and Greg Breton of the ManCave Huddle join YES Network’s Chris Shearn on his latest “And…We’re Off” podcast. We discuss the New York Giants dramatic overtime victory over the Chicago Bears, including the play of Eli Manning, Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham, Alec Ogletree, Landon Collins, and the offensive line. We discuss Head Coach Pat Shurmur, and weigh in on whether it is better to win or lose these final games of the 2018 season.

Nov 272018
 
Share Button

Eric Kennedy of BigBlueInteractive.com and Greg Breton of the ManCave Huddle join YES Network’s Chris Shearn on his latest “And…We’re Off” podcast. We discuss the New York Giants after another brutal loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Where does Big Blue go from here? Is Eli the primary signal caller the rest of the year? Is Kyle Lauletta getting a look? Alex Tanney? All these questions and more were discussed.

Dec 142017
 
Share Button

December 14, 2017 BBI New York Giants Videocast: BigBlueInteractive.com’s Mike Siegel and NJ.com’s Dan Duggan talk about the factors that have led to the New York Giants’ terrible season as well as the general manager search.

Dan Duggan cover the Giants for NJ Advance Media.

Mike Siegel, aka gidiefor, serves as a moderator and is a longtime contributor in The Corner Forum, originally joining BBI in 2004. Raised in Brooklyn, NY, he is a rabid Giants fan, an attorney, a family man, proud grandfather of five, and a former NYC Park Professional, Mounted Park Ranger, and instructor at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, who was noted for his work in Brooklyn Park rehabilitation projects, park publications, public park tours and programs, and also his paper-folding prowess. His more than fifteen-foot high Origami holiday tree in Central Park’s Dairy was a fixture in the 1980’s. He has been an active participant in BBI’s outside gatherings, and strongly believes in fostering the BBI community environment and promoting serious discussion about Giants football.

Sep 072017
 
Share Button

BBI New York Giants Videocast of September 7, 2017: BigBlueInteractive.com’s Sy’56 and Mike Siegel talk about the state of the New York Giants entering the 2017 regular season, and make predictions for the Giants-Cowboys match-up Sunday Night’s first game of the season.

Sy’56 has worked for Ourlads Scouting LLC since 2013, starting off as a college depth chart manager and now a lead scout for one the most-sold NFL draft guides year-in, year-out. He has been scouting for over 10 years and will compile anywhere from 400-600 scouting reports per season, with that number increasing year by year. He watches and studies game films 20-25 hours per week throughout the entire year with his main focus being NFL Draft prospects.

Mike Siegel, aka gidiefor, serves as a moderator and is a longtime contributor in The Corner Forum, originally joining BBI in 2004. Raised in Brooklyn, NY, he is a rabid Giants fan, an attorney, a family man, proud grandfather of five, and a former NYC Park Professional, Mounted Park Ranger, and instructor at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, who was noted for his work in Brooklyn Park rehabilitation projects, park publications, public park tours and programs, and also his paper-folding prowess. His more than fifteen-foot high Origami holiday tree in Central Park’s Dairy was a fixture in the 1980’s. He has been an active participant in BBI’s outside gatherings, and strongly believes in fostering the BBI community environment and promoting serious discussion about Giants football.