Giants coach Joe Judge told his players during their season-ending team meeting that the Eagles owed them nothing. The Giants had a chance to win the NFC East on their own, without relying on help in Week 17 to extend their season.
He’s right: A 6-10 record doesn’t win the Giants any sympathy.
But, in his season-ending press conference, Judge made his feelings clear about Doug Pederson’s decision to replace Jalen Hurts with third-stringer Nate Sudfeld early in the fourth quarter of a three-point game.
“I’ll let Philadelphia speak for themselves on that,” Judge initially said.
Then, Judge delivered a speech that will reverberate into next season when the NFL hopefully schedules the Giants to play the Eagles in the season opener on Sunday Night Football.
Judge never mentioned Pederson or the Eagles by name in his one-minute, 39-second answer. He didn’t need to as he passionately expressed his opinion that the Eagles disrespected the game in tanking for a better draft choice.
“Obviously players have asked me throughout the day, and I just can’t express that the one thing to keep in mind with this season is we had a lot of people opt in to this season,” Judge said, via video from Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. “We had a lot of people opt in. Coaches, players. That includes family members as well. All right? So to look at a group of grown men who I ask to give me effort on a day in, day out basis and to empty the tank, and then I can look them in the eye and assure them I’m going to do everything I can to put them in a competitive advantage and play them in a position of strength. To me, you don’t ever want to disrespect those players and their effort and disrespect the game. The sacrifices that they made to come into work every day and test before coming in, to sit in meetings spaced out, to wear a mask, to have shields over those masks, to go through our extensive protocols, to travel in unconventional ways, to get text messages at 6:30 in the morning telling them practice was going to be canceled; we have to do a virtual day. To tell them, please don’t have your family over for Thanksgiving. Please avoid Christmas gatherings. We know it’s our wife’s birthday, but let’s make sure we put that one off until the offseason. There’s a number of sacrifices that have been made by all the players and coaches in this league. There’s a number of sacrifices that come along, as well, with the family members and the people connected to them.
“To disrespect the effort that everyone put forward to make this season a success for the National Football League, to disrespect the game by going out there and not competing for 60 minutes and doing everything you can to help those players win, we will never do that as long as I’m the head coach of the New York Giants.”