John Mara recalled meeting Daniel Jones during the pre-draft process, and the Giants’ president and CEO had one very important question for the Duke quarterback.
“Do you have thick skin?” Mara asked.
Jones told him he did.
Mara spoke to Jones shortly after the draft and revisited the question.
“Do you understand why I asked you that question?” Mara said. “He smiled. He can handle it. He can handle being the quarterback of the New York Giants.”
Mara saw more evidence Tuesday that Jones indeed is properly wired to handle being the quarterback in the country’s biggest market. Not long after reports surfaced that Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield ripped the Giants’ pick of Jones in a story that appeared in GQ Magazine, Jones reacted with little more than a shrug.
“I cannot believe the Giants took Daniel Jones,” Mayfield said. “Some people overthink it. That’s where people go wrong. They forget you’ve gotta win.”
Mayfield is hardly alone in his criticism of the Jones pick. I mean, who hasn't ripped the pick? Even if you liked Jones coming into the draft, did the Giants really need to take him that high at No. 6 overall? Especially when they had the 17th overall pick, and it seemed as if no other team had a conviction on him the way general manager Dave Gettleman did?
What’s different about Mayfield’s disparagement of the pick is that it comes directly from another player. It is a generally accepted code among players, especially quarterbacks, that they don’t cast aspersions about their colleagues. Trash talking before, during or after games is certainly acceptable, but sweeping judgments such as the one Mayfield made? Not cool.
Which is why Mayfield himself tried to walk back the comments Tuesday.
“This is not what I said…. just so we’re clear,” Mayfield wrote on his Instagram account. “I also said I was surprised I got drafted number one. Then was talking about the flaws in evaluating QBs. Where I brought up winning being important. Reporters and media will do anything to come up with a click bait story. Heard nothing but good things and wish nothing but the best for Daniel.”
Mayfield couldn’t put the toothpaste back in the tube on this one, and while he claimed his comments were taken out of context, he didn’t dispute his incredulous reaction at the Giants taking Jones so high.
The bigger takeaway – at least from the Giants’ perspective – is how effortlessly and nonchalantly Jones deflected the remarks. His default reaction was to take the high road and not lash out at Mayfield or even challenge what he said. Had he returned serve and engaged Mayfield in a verbal tug-of-war, it would have made for a far more controversial moment. He did nothing of the sort. There wasn’t even so much as an eyeroll or other facial expression that made you think Mayfield had gotten through.
Yes, that’s the thick skin Mara was talking about.
“I try not to listen to much that’s said. I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that,” Jones said after Tuesday’s practice. “I heard that [criticism] before, I kind of have the same mindset, I certainly have a lot to focus on here, I have a lot to worry about here and I’m focused on that. It’s been good, but just focused on what I’m doing here.”
Jones was given an unceremonious welcome to the NFL when he was met with an avalanche of boos when commissioner Roger Goodell announced his name at April's draft. And while he certainly admitted to being mindful of the negative reaction, he simply has kept his head down, gone to work and tried to change minds the only way he knows how: with his play.
He has done as well as can be expected through the first two preseason games, completing 16 of 19 passes for 228 yards, two touchdown passes and no interceptions. His accuracy has been terrific, prompting some fans on social media to dub him “Danny Dimes.”
Mayfield’s remarks, as well as other similar comments Jones has heard, have no outward impact.
Just as Mara had suspected.