Joe Judge said at his introductory press conference last year that he wanted his team to not only reflect the community it represents but be a visible part of it. He envisioned lots of local events in which the Giants would interact with fans.
Then, two months later, the pandemic came. Those plans, like so many others, were scuttled.
On Saturday night, though, the Giants will return to public view in the New York area for the first time since Judge took the job. They will practice at the newly renovated 4,500-seat Eddie Moraes Stadium – formerly Ironbound Stadium – in Newark, a facility that had been closed since 1987 but was refurbished through the LISC NFL Grassroots Program. The Ironbound Community Corporation secured a $250,000 grant from the NFL for the project.
Because of COVID-19 protocols, the Giants played their home games last year at an empty MetLife Stadium and all of their practices were closed to the public. Saturday’s practice will be in front of about 2,000 high school and Pop Warner players who have been invited. It is NOT open to the public.
"This is the first exposure we’ve had," Judge said of being in front of fans. "It’s the first time we get to be face to face with them, to address the fans and approach them to speak. Not everybody has the opportunity to see us. It’s important for me, it’s important for this organization, that we’re going to come to you. We’re going to make the effort and make sure that we can get to you and make sure you get the opportunity for the team that you cheer for, that we’re going to come to your community. Ultimately, your community is our community.
"We want them to come [to our games] and be good fans and cheer, but the reality is we need to earn that," Judge continued. "We want to also make sure that we support them on the other side and they understand that we’re there for them. The Mara and Tisch families do a tremendous job supporting with financial contributions. Whether it’s equipment, fields, grants, whatever it may be. As the face of the organization, these players and coaches, we are responsible for getting out there."
Finally they’ll get a chance to do just that.