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Saquon Barkley plays it smart with autograph seekers

Saquon Barkley during Giants training camp on Wednesday,

Saquon Barkley during Giants training camp on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Credit: Matthew Swensen/Matthew Swensen

There’s at least one COVID-19 risk Saquon Barkley faces each time he leaves his house that not many others need worry about: Autograph hunters.

The Giants running back is normally swarmed by fans wanting to take a selfie, get a signature or just share a moment with him. Barkley usually obliges as best he can. In the midst of a pandemic, though, he’s having to be a lot more cautious with those interactions.

“When fans come up and ask you for pictures or autographs, and that’s something that has happened to me a little bit, you have to be smart,” Barkley said on in a virtual press conference on Friday. “I make sure I wear my mask and make sure they’re wearing a mask. Obviously still be polite, but just trying to focus on things… That could be the little situation right there where it turns for the worse.”

It could be, Barkley knows, the way COVID creeps into the Giants’ facility and possibly derails the season.

The Giants and the NFL are not operating in a bubble like the NBA and NHL, which means that teams are relying on players and other employees to exercise responsibility and sacrifice when they are away from the building. During training camp, that’s actually not as big an issue as you might think. Players are run pretty ragged by their schedule and usually return home or to their hotel room after work ready to do little other than plop onto their beds. Once the regular season begins, though, players will have much more free time.

That means going out and mingling with the rest of the world… and even the segment of that world that wants autographs.

“It’s definitely in the back of your mind,” Barkley said of the risks of interacting with non-Giants people, “but I would say we go out every single day and just try to do the best that you can. Obviously still trying to live the life that you love to live, but just doing it in a smarter way because you’re not just protecting yourself. You are protecting the people in your home, and then here, you are protecting everyone in this facility.”

New York Sports