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LI kids talk with Saquon Barkley

Giants running back Saquon Barkley with Kidsday reporters

Giants running back Saquon Barkley with Kidsday reporters Ethan Reiser, left, Sebastian Oyaga, Jacob Ellenwood and Loui Peredo, all 10, from Syosset and Jericho, at the Giants' training facility in New Jersey Credit: Newsday/Pat Mullooly

The Quest Diagnostic Training Center is the New York Giants' training facility in New Jersey, right next to MetLife Stadium, where they play their home games. We are all very big Giants fans, we were so excited to be there to watch the Giants practice. We also had the privilege of interviewing the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Saquon Barkley, after their practice was over.  We couldn’t sit still. We were there to do some work and have some fun, too.

In the lobby, we saw four gold Super Bowl trophies and other trophies up close that the Giants won. It was very cool to see real professional trophies in person. We also saw pictures of players from the ‘80s and the ‘90s.

Saquon is 22 years old. He is from the Bronx and went to Penn State University. He played college football there for three seasons. He was selected with the second pick by the Giants in the 2018 NFL draft.

Before the interview, we were escorted to the training field to watch the Giants practice. We were given an active roster, which included: the players number, last and first name, playing position, height, weight, age, experience, college, hometown, and acquisition (drafted by the NFL date). We watched the Giants practice for more than an hour. It was so surreal, we couldn’t take our eyes off Saquon. We spotted him right away, he was wearing a white jersey. His number is 26. Saquon Barkley ran the ball up the field.  He made some great catches. The unbelievable thing is that Saquon is one of the smallest players on the team.  We also noticed all the players root for each other and they are really focused on learning the game even as professionals.  The teamwork was impressive.  It showed in the long and short passes they made and the different running plays.  Everything was big and far! The field was big, the players were big, the kicker kicked the ball so far and even the ball itself was big.

We waited with anticipation to meet Saquon. Finally, the door opened and then Saquon Barkley walked up to us and greeted everyone with a great big smile and handshake. He was so friendly and responsive to our questions.

We were curious as to why he picked jersey 26. He said that he was that number in college and it was one of the top-selling jerseys, so he kept the number for the NFL. The next question we asked was how old were you when you started playing football? He told us that he was 7, and he was expected to go play flag football, but his dad snuck him into tackle football.  During one of the games, a ball hit him in the mouth, and one of his teeth fell out.

We continued with our interesting interview, we asked him what was it like to live in a family of six? He said it was great until his twin siblings were born and they took all the attention. We followed that question with, what team did you admire when you were little Saquon? He said growing up he was a Jets fan. He will always pass the home field, and he dreamed wearing white and green, but, he added, it’s an honor wearing white and blue.

We were so interested to know if he played Fortnite. He responded yes, he does play and told us his Fortnite username. 

We followed up that question with, what it was like to move from the Bronx to Pennsylvania? He felt like it was a sacrifice for his parents to give their children a better life.  If Saquon did not make it into the NFL, he said would have become a sports analyst. Another question we asked was have you ever boxed before? He responded that his dad and uncle were both boxers. He would have boxed. Even now he says it is fun and a good way to get fit.

We wanted to know who did he like playing against the best? He answered the Chicago Bears because they have one of the best defensive units in the game – especially Pro Bowl linebacker Khalil Mack. The Giants beat the Bears, 30-27. He is looking forward to the challenge of playing the Bears again this season.

We followed up with another question, who was the person that gave him the best advice? He said his dad gave him the best advice and didn’t let him quit. His dad pushed him through the tough times and would always tell him, if you put your mind to it, you can do it. After a few photos with Saquon, we were escorted to the exit door. Even walking out of the practice facility was a cool event. So many of the players had just finished lunch and when they saw us they were talking and joking with us.

And that would have been the end to a perfect day until this happened: A staffer approached us holding a cellphone. We were stunned, our jaw dropped when he asked for our Fortnite usernames. He mentioned that Saquon Barkley wanted our Fortnite usernames. We all typed our usernames in the cellphone. We are so happy, and we can’t wait to see his friend request. Furthermore, we can't wait to play with him Fortnite! 

We had so much fun during the practice and during the interview. It was a great experience for all of us. We all felt inspired by the work Saquon did to get into the NFL. It must have been a long and hard work. It showed us that if we work hard at our dream, we all can make it happen. Good luck to Saquon Barkley!

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