New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is well on his way toward authoring “one hell of a comeback story” as he rehabs from a Week 2 torn ACL that not only ended his season but robbed him of a chance to redeem himself from his worst career showings.
One week before his 2020 season--and possibly his career--was altered, Barkley, against the Pittsburgh Steelers, had rushed for six yards on 15 carries and had a forgettable showing as a pass blocker. That showing drew heavy criticism from not only the fans and media but also from Giants legend Tiki Barber, who openly questioned if Barkley had what it took to be an every-down back.
To get on the track to redemption, Barkley admitted that he had to get past the “Why me?” stage in the moments following the injury.
“When I hurt my knee—I ain’t gonna lie—that was probably the weakest moment of my life,” Barkley said on the “Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson” podcast. “Especially the first three days — I couldn’t control myself. [I was] crying, ‘why me? Why me? Why me?’”
Barkley’s self-pity soon turned to resolve as he realized that feeling sorry for himself wasn’t going to change anything, whereas hard work, something that he was already used to doing, would.
“That third day just hit and it’s like, ‘So what? Now what?’”
Those are the words that Giants running backs coach Burton Burns is always telling his charges, especially after something unexpected or unplanned happened.
“(The injury happened). Adversity makes the weak weaker and makes the strong stronger. You have to pick and choose what side you want to be on.”
Barkley also admitted that the criticism he received for his Week 1 performance against the Steelers got under his skin just enough to where it was the criticism driving him and rather than his inner drive and his love of the game, both of which has gotten him this far.
That’s something Barkley vowed he’ll never let happen again.
“In the game, it was a short game, but I was so pressed. I wanted to go out there and shut everyone up. I wasn’t doing it for the love of the game,” he said. “That was the first time I could look back on myself and say where I did that. I wasn’t playing as a little kid loving the game and trying to be great. I was going out there trying to make a statement and shut everyone up.”
Barkley remains determined to make a strong comeback and pick up where he left off. In his first two NFL seasons, he rushed for over 1,000 yards and showed he could be an all-around threat in the Giants offense.
But if the unfortunate should happen and Barkley is unable to regain his pre-injury form, it won’t be because of his doing.
“If it’s not in the cards for me to do it, at least I know I can look myself in the mirror that I put the work ethic and did the little things to become one of the best to do it,” he said.
“If I came back and things didn’t go the way I envision them going — I can’t see that, because that’s the way I envision it — but I know I’m [going] to do everything necessary to put myself in the right position the smart way and right way to come back better.”
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