Brad Wing is known as the Giants’ “Australian” punter since that’s where he was born. His accent certainly does little to discredit that title. But if you look at the team’s roster and scan to Wing’s hometown, you’ll find a place that isn’t so much down-under as it is, at least recently, under water.
In 2009, at the age of 18, Wing and his family moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and it’s where his relatives and three-year-old son still live. They’ve been spared the brunt of the devastating floods that have destroyed much of the city and surrounding area this month, but Wing said he has plenty of friends in the area who have literally lost everything they own to the natural disaster.
“I love that place,” Wing told Newsday. “They’re a bunch of good people down there and I keep them in my prayers a lot.”
Baton Rouge was already making sad national news when Wing was there prior to the start of Giants training camp this summer. Three of the city’s police officers were shot and killed in an ambush on July 18. Wing left that scene and quickly started to watch the flooding unfold from training camp in New Jersey.
“It’s weird the way I’m experiencing it from afar because that place is very dear to me and very close to me,” he said. “To be watching it from afar it’s bizarre. I’m very familiar with all the places they’re showing on the news and to see it looking that way, it’s hard to see.”
Wing said he has a close friend who told him the story of how his home was destroyed.
“Within one hour his house went from having no water to being six feet of water throughout the whole house,” Wing said. “He lost pretty much everything. Furniture, clothes, electronics, all stuff like that. His car was underwater, too. And that’s just one of them. There are a lot of situations like that where the car and the furniture and clothes and food are just all gone. All the things you need to get through the next day.”
Wing said he’s tried to help as much as he can. He’s sent money to local churches which are supplying barbecues and sandwiches for residents, but he’s also sent clothes. As an NFL player with closets full of team gear, he’s more than happy to share.
“I have a lot of clothes that I can part ways with and someone else needs more than me,” he said. “I’m trying to do everything I can. I feel like my hands are a little tied, but I understand down there that anything helps and anything is appreciated and they’re grateful for one pair of shorts or anything like that.”
Wing was still in Australia when Hurricane Katrina battered New Orleans, but he saw the after-effects of that storm during his time in Louisiana. “This is the same severity depending on who you are asking,” he said. “It’s been a tough couple of weeks.”
But, he said, the first-hand reports he gets from friends and family tell him that things are beginning to turn around. The waters are receding. People are coming together. The rebuilding is beginning.
“What I do know is that everybody down there is doing a good job of having each other’s back,” he said. “There’s a lot of support down there, which is comforting to see. It’s definitely a disaster that I think will be remembered forever and now it’s about rebuilding from it. And if any state has dealt with that before it’s Louisiana. I have no doubt in the people down there that they’ll make it better.”