The question was simple enough. To paraphrase: Why should Giants fans have faith in Joe Judge as the man to lead the Giants back to respectability?
What followed was an impassioned, meandering, fascinating labyrinth of an answer that went on for more than 11 minutes and more than 2,700 words, the gist of which was that he had fixed what was a broken team culture.
Before going into the many, many details, let’s say we accept every word of the speech Judge made after Sunday’s 29-3 loss to the Bears at face value.
With reporters having been banned from locker rooms for Judge’s entire term because of the pandemic, it is even more difficult for outsiders to assess this stuff than usual, but so far, there is no evidence to contradict him.
Saquon Barkley confirmed that the vibe is better than it was in 2019 under Pat Shurmur, the last time the Giants were 4-12.
"I’m in the locker room," he said, "and I can tell you directly and honestly and truthfully the love of the game from those guys in the locker room and the passion that they have and the culture we have and the belief that we continue to have in each other is amazing."
Fine! That’s great. Good for them. It beats chaos and/or indifference.
But the problem is that the fans the coach invited to "boo my [butt]" at the season finale at MetLife Stadium next weekend understandably judge Judge by results.
The Giants are 10-22 under him and in recent weeks have devolved into the worst team in the NFL. Against the Bears, they managed minus-10 (not a misprint) net passing yards.
Yes, the Giants have injury and COVID problems and are without quarterback Daniel Jones. But other teams have similar problems and have been competitive. Like the Jets! The Giants are a laughingstock.
Will ownership bring back Judge? Probably. But in doing so, management will draw the ire of increasingly fed-up fans.
So to review: Judge’s soliloquy can be both right and wrong. Maybe he has improved the culture. But he has not improved the on-field product, which is kind of the point of the job.
"I don’t ever ask for patience from anybody," Judge said. "Let’s get that clear right now. All right? And the fans have every right to have an opinion. That’s why they’re fans. They have every right. You buy a ticket, come to the stadium, you have every right to boo me going out of the stadium. That’s the way it is.’’
Judge insisted there are "foundational things" in place that point to eventual success.
He said he speaks to his remaining healthy team leaders about what is going on among the players, and they have assured him that everyone remains committed.
"There are a lot of teams right now that are out of playoff contention," Judge said. "Whether it’s golf clubs in the locker room or people planning vacations outside of it. There’s a lot of finger-pointing and blaming and shouting. All that type of stuff. You know what we have in our building? We don’t got any of that."
Judge said that when he arrived, every player he spoke to "looked me in the eye and said, ‘Joe, it’s not a team, they don’t play hard, we’re out of the playoffs, everybody quit, everybody tapped, they stopped showing up to captains’ meetings, all that stuff. They tapped out.’ "
Yikes! Poor Shurmur did not expect to be dragged into this thing out of the blue.
"This ain’t a team that’s having fistfights on the sidelines," Judge said, an apparent reference to the Washington Football Team. "This ain’t some clown show organization or something else. You talk about the foundation built. The toughest thing to change in a team, the toughest thing to change in a club, is the way people think."
Judge declined to talk about his job security, but he made a guarantee about the season finale.
"We’re going to practice hard on Wednesday, we’re going to practice hard on Thursday and we’re going to practice hard on Friday, OK?" he said.
"And we’re going to play for each other on the field next week. If we don’t play well, every fan has the right to boo my [butt] out of the stadium. You got that?"
Oh, they’ve got that. They definitely have got that.