Giants coach Joe Judge is ready for rough reception in Philadelphia on Thursday night
Joe Judge coach grew up just outside Philadelphia, so he knows what he’s about to face on Thursday night.
"I’ll probably wear a helmet," he said on Monday with a smile. "My in-laws are already buying batteries."
It may not be that bad. Only a few thousand fans are allowed into Lincoln Financial Field for the game, which means the amount of both debris and insults hurled at the Giants will be fractionally less than what it normally is.
Judge noted that he has faced Philadelphia as an opposing coach when he was with the Patriots. In fact he once gave a presentation to the entire New England organization on the kind of treatment they should expect to receive during a visit to the City of Brotherly Love.
This, though, is different. He isn’t showing up as an assistant for an AFC team that rolls into town once a decade. He’s returning as the head coach of an NFC East rival.
Head coach of the hated Giants.
In some precincts that’s tantamount to betrayal. He could swear off cheesesteaks and admit the entire Rocky movie series is just a bunch of hokum and still be welcomed back with more forgiveness and understanding than he’s likely to experience as an enemy of the state on Thursday.
Broad Street has very narrow tolerance for such infidelity.
Despite all of the ties and history, Judge said he does not expect to feel much sentimentality about the homecoming himself as he’ll be so focused on the football. Just as he mostly brushed aside any internalization when he notched his first win as a head coach on Sunday, he will look at this game as being more about the Giants and the Eagles than about Joe Judge.
"We just know we have a heck of a team we have to match up against," he said.
But it is that Philly-ness that defines Judge, that makes him the coach he has become. He wants the Giants to be physical and tough and smart and single-minded and loyal and lunch pail players. He wants them to be like him. The Fighting Joe Judge’s, as general manager Dave Gettleman called the team in training camp. That means making them a little more… like Philadelphians.
Judge, of course, downplayed the rivalry, the provincialism, and all of the sideshows that will be at play on Thursday.
"My brother walked around in an L.T. jersey his entire life," Judge said. "I think mostly just to make us mad because we were all rooting for the Eagles. But eventually you get used to seeing it and you understand why he was wearing it."
In other words, there are some things that can at least be respected by both fanbases.
"It’s an excellent team and it’s obviously a great rivalry," Judge said. "I grew up watching these games. They were always tough games, blue-collar type games when the Eagles and Giants played when I was growing up watching."
Things have changed a bit since then. The Eagles have beaten the Giants seven straight times and won 11 of the last 12 meetings. You have to go back to 2013 for the last Giants win in Philadelphia. There are no players on the roster who have ever won there as Giants. In fact, there are only two players from that Giants win who are still playing in the NFL: defensive linemen Linval Joseph and Jason Pierre-Paul.
While Judge is able to unplug himself from the passion of Thursday night, that moratorium on emotion obviously won’t extend to his family and friends. Nor to the thousands of unnamed unknown fans of the Eagles with whom he has a shared lineage and background but, now that he is with the Giants, a far different motive.
"It’s a great city," Judge said of Philadelphia. "It’s got great, passionate fans."
Perhaps on Thursday some of them will even show up with batteries not included.