NFL players come and go in team locker rooms, but before the current members of the Giants eventually leave the team's locker room for good, Giants head coach Joe Judge wants them to understand and appreciate the franchise's history as shaped by Hall of Fame, All-Pro, and Pro Bowl players who have been recognized by the team for induction into its Ring of Honor.
This week, Judge stepped up efforts to introduce his players to the Giants' rich franchise history when he implemented a program that acknowledges the outstanding contributions made by members of the scout team the week prior.
Those players, as selected by the coaching staff, get the opportunity to pick out any jersey from among the over 40 members of the team's Ring of Honor, whose work ethic and commitment to Giants football made their game day contributions invaluable, and wear it during practice.
The idea came about stemmed from a conversation between Judge and assistant general manager Kevin Abrams. Judge liked the idea, and through a discussion with Abrams, the plan on how to implement it was born.
"It evolved into using the practice players of the week," Judge said. "We had been putting them in different color jerseys to signify what they are. I thought maybe it’s a good idea to put them in some really significant jerseys.
"We have no names on our jerseys, that’s by design. The name that you put on your back, it’s not yours, you have to represent that player in terms of how they played and how they practiced on a daily basis."
The five players chosen to wear the jerseys this week--linebacker Carter Coughlin, defensive tackle David Moa, quarterback Colt McCoy, guard Chad Slade, and defensive back Jarren Wiliams--were acknowledged for their contributions to the team's recent win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Besides the reward element, Judge said he embraced the idea to instill a greater appreciation of the franchise's history among his players.
"When I came to this organization, that’s something I expressed with ownership," Judge said. "They looked at it the same way. To me, the history of this organization is very important.
"It’s very important for all of our players coming in here to understand that this team has been here a lot longer than they have been around. It’s up to us to understand the history of this organization and who has come before us to make this a great place to be."
Judge's Giants are currently a half-game out of first place in the NFC East. With a win over the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday and a loss by the Eagles against the Seahawks, the Giants could find themselves atop of the division for the first time since 2011 and make them the first team in NFL history to start the season 0-5 and make the playoffs.
It would be a fitting entry in the long history of resilient season comebacks in Giants history. Judge's group can look at the organization's last two Super Bowl teams if they need convincing that anything is possible.
The 2007 Giants became just the second Super Bowl champion to start the season 0-2, and the 2011 Giants became the first Super Bowl champion to overcome a four-game losing streak.
Judge wants his players to be able to recognize the Giants legends who, at least before the COVID-19 pandemic, were frequent visitors to the team's headquarters during the week and on game days, not just by their names and faces but also by what they contributed to the organizations' rich history.
"There are pictures and sayings all over the building that reference players who came before, coaches who came before," Judge said. "It’s important that we understand who those players are and why they’re significant. Who those coaches are and why they’re significant.
"It would be absolutely devastating if we ever had a current player run into a guy who’s in the Ring of Honor and not understand who he is or why he’s significant. Those guys have made tremendous contributions. Every one of us is working at this point to do something to make a contribution to this organization long term."
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