By Lenn Robbins
Joe Judge was a sight and sound to behold in his first press conference as the coach of the Giants.
Everyone with any blue in their veins had to feel as if the conference coincided with happy hour. Judge was polite, impassioned, and emphatic. He chased shots with shots.
When asked his vision of Giants football, grandfathers around the metropolitan area were ready to run through a brick wall.
“We will punch you in the nose for 60 minutes, we will play every play like it has a history and a life of its own,’’ said Judge.
Damn, for a franchise that has compiled a 12-36 record the last three seasons with teams that often hit opponents in the thigh with a pillow, this alone would be a huge step in the right direction.
Judge clearly won the day, arriving early to meet the media and embrace Giants past and presence. Nothing was not to like, right?
Judge, 38, has never been a head coach, or an offensive or defensive coordinator, on any level. He sounded a little like a college football coach, say at Mississippi State, his alma mater which was itching to bring him back to Starkville, or a young egomaniacal GM.
It was Brady Van Wagenen who told NL East opponents to come get the Mets. They did.
It was former UConn football coach Bob Diaco who claimed in August of 2015 that the Huskies would win the national championship. They didn’t and Diaco was fired in 2016.
What happens on press conference day means zero when Judge gets before the entire Giants team and lays out his vision. Will pro football players buy into a young, inexperienced coach who gets an A+ in talking the talk but has to prove he can walk, talk, call a good game, manage the clock, challenge calls when there’s a chance of not losing a time out, and about 200 other responsibilities?
“I want the people of New York, North Jersey and South Jersey, knowing when they pay to watch our product, our team is a representative of their blue collar mentality and that they can be proud of,’’ announced General Judge.
Give Judge credit for this: He was prepared enough, impassioned enough and authentic enough to have earned some grace with the media and he assuaged the fan base, many of whom were still asking, “Joe Who?”
And you can bet you’re favorite Giants hoodie that Judge knows the hard work starts now.
He has to build a staff. He has to win over the veterans. He has to do a crash course on preparing for the NFL Draft, the most important day in every franchise’s year, which is only about 14 weeks away.
So, kudos to Judge for looking the part, delivering a clear message and coming across as a man of conviction. All he has to do is turn losers into winners, which is as easy getting every player to play every play like it has a history and a life of its own.