If there is one thing that Judge has shown in his short tenure as head coach, he’s not afraid to put the human element ahead of football.
That’s exactly what the 38-year-old head coach did when he delayed the start of the practice by 45 minutes to allow for the team to discuss the latest social justice developments following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
“We wanted to give our players time,” Judge said. “This wasn’t a distraction by any means. It was a conversation we had as a team that there’s some things that are very important in the locker room and the culture making sure that players understand.”
This isn’t the first time Judge has put scheduled football activities aside to address bigger picture items. Following the senseless death of George Floyd back in May, Judge and team owners John Mara and Steve Tisch devoted at least one of the scheduled Zoom meetings that otherwise would have been devoted to going over the Xs and Os to give the players a chance to air their feelings and opinions.
“Look, we’re concerned about them. They’re concerned about us as well,” Judge said. “We want to make sure that we’re all on the same wavelength and that we support them.”
The Giants, who have always been one of the most active franchises in the community, have become even more active of late since Judge’s arrival. One of the things they have done is split the team into smaller groups focused on a particular community cause.
“Being on a team where people come from so many different backgrounds, we kind of show that people can come together and focus towards a goal,” said defensive lineman Leonard Williams.
“Something we did as a team was, we split up into different groups and focused on all the different boroughs in New York. Something in my group that we have been focusing on is police reform and trying to build relationships between officers and the community.”
One thing the Giants players decided against was canceling their scheduled workday as the Lions did on Tuesday, and as the NBA playoff teams, starting with the Milwaukee Bucks, did on Wednesday.
“Something that we’ve all thought about as a team is that we wouldn’t want to take away opportunities from guys trying to make the team,” Williams said. “There is already less opportunity for them without preseason right now. It would be kind of hard for them to not be seen if we’re taking away even more without them having preseason.”
“That’s important for us,” Judge said. “Our guys made the decision, we talked about it, they didn’t want to miss any work, they wanted to keep practicing.”
Judge was asked back in May if the team had plans to stage any protests such as kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem this fall.
At the time, he said the team would continue having discussions with each other and arrive at a decision together, actions that would have the coaching staff’s full support.