Thomas McGaughey has been around the Giants long enough to remember the chants. He even mimicked them briefly on Thursday, playfully repeating a phrase that once echoed through Giants Stadium and MetLife Stadium in ridicule of Eli Manning.
"Now, his freaking name is up in the rafters after two Super Bowls," the special teams coordinator said.
McGaughey was trying to explain how quickly things can change, not only in the NFL, but in this market in particular.
"We’ve seen this city flip," he said of how it loves to embrace winners.
Over the past month, we’ve seen it go the other way and unravel at a startling pace too. The Giants have lost five straight games without being competitive in any of them, their head coach is being lampooned for what seems to be a disconnect from the results on the field, and about a month from now a full decade will have passed since the organization last won a postseason game, nevermind one that bought them keys to the city.
The product has been indefensible, so no one even tries to defend it. The season has been so putrid it’s hard to find a player, coach or executive who can point to a practical or statistical reason to be back for the 2022 season.
But McGaughey and others remain steadfast in their belief that the franchise, despite outward appearances, is improving, and they came to the defense of Joe Judge with some of the same points that have caused many to ridicule him over the past few weeks.
"The best case is building on the things that we’ve done," McGaughey said, making the argument against the cleaning out of the building that some [possibly even ownership, which has been silent on the subject] propose. "You don’t see a lot of stuff that’s going on behind the scenes. There are some good things that are happening, and we’ve just got to keep building and stay to the process."
McGaughey was on the staff in 2019, the season Judge pointed to in his epic speech on Sunday as being littered with quitters, golf bags, and tapping out. He did not dispute that assessment. In fact, he made it seem like that brief era set the franchise back in ways this current one is still trying to overcome.
"A lot of times when you’re building on swamp ground, you’ve got to go 10 times deeper before you start going up," he said. "We’re all on swamp ground if you haven’t figured it out."
McGaughey has a job on the line so it’s no surprise he would come to Judge’s defense. Others with less at stake had similar positions, though.
Saquon Barkley was asked on Thursday about the criticism that Judge has taken for his emotional 11-minute speech on Sunday.
"He’s a passionate coach and he said things he felt and believes in and that a lot of the players in the locker room believe in, too," the running back said. "This place is going in the right direction. It may not seem that way from the outside looking in, but internally we know what we have here, we know what we are doing in the locker room."
Added safety Logan Ryan: "Joe is a passionate guy, an honest guy, and a truthful guy, and that was some of that coming out."
Ryan also pointed out, as McGaughey did, that the dissipation of patience from the public is a part of being with the Giants.
"We haven’t been winning in New York and that’s a big spotlight," he said. "It’s a tough place when you’re not winning because of the passion and amount of support we have for this organization… This is a stern place. When you sign up to play you understand the good and the bad that comes from it."
Right now they’re getting a heavy dose of the bad. Sunday figures to be an ugly scene with fans who tread out to fill whatever fraction of the seats at MetLife Stadium they’ll cover ready to voice their disapproval.
There will be chants.
"It’s not Cleveland, it’s not other places," McGaughey said. "It’s New York City and it’s harder to build here because you’ve got a lot of things that you’re working against. You come and you get your head beat in. You’re going to get your teeth kicked in. You’re going to get booed in the stadium. If you’re not strong mentally, you’re not going to be able to make it here."
These Giants coaches and players seem to believe, as Judge indicated Sunday, that they are on the path toward eventually doing just that. Making it here.
They’ve certainly exhausted the patience of the fanbase. Whether or not they receive the luxury of more time from ownership is an entirely different matter.