Joe Judge Pledges to Support Player Platforms for Social Change
There are a lot of things that Giants head coach Joe Judge doesn’t yet know.
He doesn’t know which of the numerous plans he’s drawn up for training camp he’ll be able to run or when whatever version does make the cut can begin.
He also doesn’t know if he’ll have to make adjustments to how training camp is structured moving forward or how the team will evolve organically in its grasp of the concepts it learned through the virtual off-season program.
But one thing the 38-year-old head coach does know is that as our nation continues to push for change against social and racial injustice, he, his coaches and team ownership are going to support the players as they use their platforms to evoke change.
“The thing I want to make clear right away is we're going to support our players,” Judge told Giants Country by phone. “We had a lot of long conversations, but we have not spoken specifically about game day. Those conversations will happen."
Judge has been trying to build an atmosphere where everyone can feel comfortable in voicing an opinion.
He also hopes that the productive conversations the team has already had in the spring will continue when they next reconvene for training camp.
“This was not going to be something that we were going to simply check off a box and say, ‘We did it as a team,’” he said.
“This is something that we want to be involved with to make a difference. The conversations we've had are just a start, but they’re going to continue through training camp into the season.
“It’s kind of like a family. Families have to talk, and we have to be a team that can have tough conversations and that we can truly understand each other as individuals and know what is best for our team.
"The guys are focused on action. They're in the process of connecting with organizations that we can work alongside to accomplish these goals within the local communities of New York and New Jersey. And we feel we can make a difference because we're going to put in the work and commit the time to do that.”
Judge and the Giants are not alone in wanting to make the community a better place.
Earlier this month, the Giants, in a team-issued statement, reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening their alliances with organizations such as the Vera Institute of Justice, the Newark Bronze Shields, The Bronx Defenders, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, RISE and local law enforcement agencies.
The team also advised their employees this week that they will close their offices Friday in observance of Juneteenth, the date in which slavery was abolished in the United States.
Around the league, various clubs have made donations toward campaigns aimed at combating racial and social injustice. The Minnesota Vikings pledged $5 million in support of social justice causes that will be determined in part through collaboration with their players on the team’s social injustice committee.
Texans head coach Bill O’Brien recently confirmed that he would join his players in staging peaceful protests by taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem.
Even the NFL, which in 2018 adapted a rule mandating all league personnel stand for the National Anthem, has begun to soften its stance.
Commissioner Roger Goodell, in a video condemning systematic racism, admitted the league was wrong in not listening to its players. Days later, the league announced it had pledged $250 million over the next ten years to help fight systematic racism.
As for the Giants, Judge said that whatever the players decide to do regarding peaceful protests—decisions that are still being discussed by the players and coaches and which Judge said he wants to see reached as a team--the players will have full organizational support.
“I want to make clear right away is we're going to support our players,” he said. “We'll be involved with the players as coaches, and our ownership has been phenomenal. They've been involved in these conversations—they’ve been listening and not just hearing the players but really listening.
“We're just in the beginning stages of discussion. This is obviously not a quick fix; it’s a lengthy process that we have to go through together to make some change. So we’re gonna have this conversation as a team, and we're gonna support the players in whatever we decide to do.”