Star Giants Run Back Saquon Barkley finds some open space for some Q&A with Post columnist Steve Serby.
Q: What drove you during your darkest moments of rehabilitation and what drives you now?
A: The same. I want to be great I want to leave a legacy. You’re talking about “giant, always giant”, I want my name out there. I want to mention with one of the greats of the giants or with one of the greatest defenders of running the game ever. I feel like I have the talent, God has blessed me with that. That was my mentality, that’s the thing that got me into it, and it will continue to push me. This is something I want to do, I want to be special. I want to leave a legacy, I want to win trophies, these are some of the things I want to achieve in my career. So when you keep that in mind, the little ups and downs that go through your career, you keep that main thing in focus, and it’s always going to keep you motivated and it’s always going to drive you.
Q: Eli Manning is famously known as “Once Upon a Time, Just a Giant.” How do you feel about following in Ellie’s footsteps when it comes to “one day giant, always giant?”
A: That’s kind of a New York and New York Giants old saying since 1925, “He was a giant once upon a time, just a giant.” I know Eli put a slightly different word in it. For me personally, I will always love being a giant for the rest of my career. Not just because this is one of the best organizations to play for and just for the people in the building from top to bottom and the way they treat people – in the weight room, the training staff and coaches and the lunch room everywhere. You have guys that come in from all over the league, and they just have great things to say about the people in the building. The friendships and relationships that I have been able to develop and will continue to develop throughout my career are the things that make this place so special. I want to be a part of that for a very long time, and also bring the culture of winning back to the city and to this franchise.
Q: Is that an added incentive for you given that this is not the system that drafted you and that your contract expired this year? Want to make it clear to them that Saquon Barkley belongs to the New York Giants outfit with a new contract?
A: I can’t control that. The only thing I can control is getting out there and doing the plays that come my way and trying to be a leader. This is not my main focus. My main focus is to take it one day at a time. If you do, and take care of the little things, I feel like the rest will take care of themselves.
Q: How much are you looking forward to showing Giants fans on Sunday the best Saquon Barkley they’ve ever seen?
A: That’s not really on my mind. I don’t really focus on that. I’m focused on getting out there and trying to show Giants fans a team they can be proud of again, trying to keep building a winning culture.
Q: How does your mentality on the field now compare to the past two years?
A: Just trust. Confidence in myself, trust in my body, knowing that I have the strength and ability to do whatever I want. That’s been the difference in the last couple of years, where you haven’t really said second-guessing to yourself, but you know, you’re telling your body to do one thing and not respond in the usual way, just the separation of mind with your body.
Q: What does a rushed title mean to you?
A: The hasty title to me doesn’t really mean much, to be honest. I feel, at the end of the day, that you only accomplished this quick title with the help of your offensive line guys, with the help of your coaches. So if you’re able to do that, it’s more of a team achievement. We obviously know we had a great week 1, but we have to put them together, and we don’t look too far away.
Q: I’ve dropped you 90 times this year.
A: As long as I can be there and try to help my team win games and be healthy, that’s the only thing I’m really focused on.
Q: When you were recruited, you said you weren’t a fugitive back, you were a weapon. Are you still holding on to that?
A: Yes, I still stick to that. I feel like whatever the team needs me to do I can do. I really believe in that. If they want me to take kicks back, I can take kicks back. If they want me to run at kickoff, I can run at kickoff as well. I really think that at the end of the day, when it comes to Sunday, I just want to win games, I just want to continue to have that competitive spirit, that competitive mentality. This will never change.
Q: What do you remember about your first opening day in 2018?
A: I remember being a little nervous, obviously, but also appreciative ones like, “Dang, like she’s actually here, like I’m playing in the NFL, something I dreamed about when I was a little kid.” We didn’t win, we lost to Jacksonville, but I remember my first touchdown, just how electric it was there.
Q: What are your thoughts on having 10 Captains of the Giants?
A: I love him. The most and the funniest. But at the end of the day, you have a “C” on your chest or not, whether you’re not one of those 10 guys, we still have many other players who are leaders, and they’re veterans of the league.
Q: Captain Wise, let’s start with Andrew Thomas. What makes him a captain?
A: He does not notice enough how special and talented he is. Personally, I could see the growth, not just through his play, but within the film, within the meetings, within the crowd.
Q: Xavier McKinney?
A: He’s kind of become the place to be, the guy who brings the energy, the guy who raises us all, he’s a great vocal leader. He obviously drives tremendously inside the weight room, on the field, a heckuva player. But he always knows when to say the right things. He was a big reason to go into the first half talking and made us huddle together.
Q: Leonard Williams?
A: Leo, the big cat. All the guys voted … They are Hekova players, but they come every day and come to work, and this does not go unnoticed at all. Then you also add in being a vocal leader. He can take over any game at any moment. It is so special.
Q: Sexy Dixie, Dexter Lawrence?
A: He can light up a room, obviously, with his size, but with his smile. All of these guys, they are competitors, and I’m honored to be a leader alongside them.
Q: Daniel Jones?
A: I really can’t say enough about the DJ just his mindset and work ethic, first in, last. The way he pushes not only myself, but all his teammates. Also just do not panic. …we had a drive where we played negative play, but he didn’t panic. Everyone was like, “We can’t wait to get the ball back, we know we’re going to find a way to get down there and get to the end zone.”
Q: Cam Brown?
A: I am really happy for him. He is a Hekova player. He hasn’t had his chance yet on defense, but special teams, he’s been playing plays all his career, knew him from Pennsylvania when he was 18, 17 I see the lead roles he grew up in, and he’s going to continue to grow.
Q: Graham Janow?
A: All these men, none of them are selfish at all, they are all selfless.
Q: Casey Crater?
A: You can really see that he took a leadership role this year, calling meetings, calling additional meetings, making sure the guys in P and Q.
Q: Julian Love?
A: Seeing his role grow with special teams and within defense. Come as a corner and have to change and do whatever the team asks of him and try to play every position he can.
Q: Your 4-year-old daughter Jada Claire, tell me about her character.
A: She’s kind of running the house now, and she knows it. She makes being a great father.
Q: Was she inspired during rehab?
A: Yes, not just rehabilitation, but just everything in life. She puts everything in order. Ultimately, it’s just a game, although I’m pretty excited about it. No matter what happens, if I score a two-point conversion against Tennessee, or if I drop a game-winning goal one day I come home and I know my daughter will smile on her face… “Dad,” and give me a kiss.
Q: How has fatherhood changed you?
A: It made me a lot bigger earlier. You don’t just do anything for yourself.
Q: What do you like most about this team?
A: We still think of each other. You can’t focus too much on the first week, but you can see the courage we have, and the competitive mindset we haven’t given up on. When we got to the locker room, we were down 13-0, and you could ask anyone in the locker room, they weren’t there, “Here we go again.” There was no, “Dang, we won’t win this match.” We really felt like we were going to win that match.
Q: What do you like most about this attack and what do you like most about coach Brian Dabul?
A: Not just Dabs, but all coaches… With this attack, it can change over the course of weeks. …The first week, we were able to run 200 yards. But this week it may be 400 yards, and the running game may not be as active and focus more on helping prepare the play move. I feel what we can be is a very good complementary football team, not just the attack but all three stages, and each other showed up. At the end of the day, I feel this is the best recipe for success.
Q: Have you set personal goals for this year?
A: No, my personal goal was to come every day, try to be the best version of myself, and try to get better every day.
Q: How proud are you for overcoming what you had to overcome?
A: I haven’t overcome anything to be honest. It’s been a great start, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a lot I want to do, and there’s a lot I want to get done. I know with the right mindset and with the help of my teammates, I will be able to make it happen.