NEW YORK — Joe Judge masked his consequences for Daniel Jones and the Giants’ partying players on Tuesday morning in the coach’s first comments on last weekend’s viral video.
“I’ve spoken to all the individuals involved as well as the entire team on what happened this past weekend. We’re gonna deal with things internally,” Judge said before practice. “The only thing I’m gonna say on that is: this group of guys has been very responsible from the very beginning. They’ve tried to do the right thing the entire time.”
“Based on the conversations and the information I’ve gathered from our players, I believe they were trying to do the right thing as teammates with going out and having dinner together the other night,” the coach added. “We have to make sure that we’re just conscious as an organization in everything we do, but anything else on top of that we’re gonna deal with internally.”
Judge was so dodgy about the details of his punishments that he wouldn’t even publicly condemn Saquon Barkley for riding a bicycle in the New York City streets just days ahead of scheduled surgery on his torn right ACL.
“I’m not going to comment on anything specifically on that,” Judge said. “Saquon is out in L.A. readying for surgery. Actually, riding a stationary bike has been part of his rehab prepping for surgery. So in terms of Saquon and where he’s at, I know he’s getting ready for the surgery right now. So obviously our thoughts and prayers are with him.”
Judge benched rookie left tackle Andrew Thomas and played him sparingly in Week 6 for being late to a team meeting the night before the Washington game, though. So it will be interesting to see what discipline he doles out on Jones, Barkley and other teammates who were present.
Early last Saturday morning, a man who goes by the name DJ Lugghead posted since-deleted videos and photos of Jones and Barkley partying indoors without masks on Instagram.
Jones is seen with a woman and the DJ inside a bar in one video, all three without masks. Jones takes a drink from the woman and sips it.
A photo of Jones, Barkley and the DJ inside a bar was captioned “Rockin wit Danny dimes and Saquon.”
Another video appears to show Barkley, with a torn right ACL, riding a bicycle and jamming out on the street with others to Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares.”
Judge on Tuesday seemed to be saying that he believed his players had made a mistake but had the best intentions.
“I’m not going to go into all of the different things of the optics and all,” Judge said. “I’m just going to say these guys, look, we’ve got to make the right decisions. I think what they tried to do as a team on a night off, kind of a simulated bye week if you would, go out to dinner and try to hang together as a team, that’s something they were looking to do and kind of stay tight with each other.”
A source familiar with the situation had told the Daily News on Saturday that Jones, a few teammates, and some friends had dinner Friday night in a private room at a restaurant in New York City. After dinner, Jones’ group was invited to have a drink in a bar that is closed to the public. That is where the video of Jones was taken.
The News also was told that the group was not at Common Ground, a Manhattan bar that DJ Lugghead was simultaneously advertising on his Instagram story. The News was told that the DJ was working as one of Jones’ and his group’s drivers for the night.
“I’ve had a lot of in-depth conversations with all the guys involved, as well as the rest of the team,” Judge said. “They understand kind of the consequences of anything you do right now in this COVID environment, as well as in the public eye, of how they’re looked at and how we have to be careful. And we have to make sure we make the right decisions.”
Asked about Jones and Barkley behaving this way as the faces of the Giants’ franchise, Judge seemed to make clear that he wasn’t pleased; he simply wasn’t going to say it publicly.
“We’re just going to deal with everything internally right now in terms of all those — that part of the situation,” Judge added.
But the NFL’s and NFLPA’s tightened COVID-19 protocols released Oct. 6 specifically say that “groups of more than three Tier 1, 2 or 3 individuals, including players, are prohibited from gathering outside of the club facility or team travel.” So the players’ actions were a clear violation of that rule.
It’s likely the Giants would fine the players involved if their internal investigation confirms what was on the videos. Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller was fined $30,000 in early October — and nine of his teammates were docked $15,000 apiece — for breaking protocols at a public charity event earlier in the fall.
Judge and the Giants sent veteran special teams captain Nate Ebner to the Zoom podium on Tuesday to try and turn the page for the team.
“I’m not really here to speak to that. Today we had a really good practice,” Ebner said when asked about the Jones and Barkley night out.
Corner James Bradberry at least acknowledged the video and alluded to the fact that there would be consequences, but not from him.
“I heard about the video. I haven’t watched it myself,” Bradberry said. “I really don’t want to put my energy and time towards that because I know what type of guys they are. I know they go about their business everyday handling it like a pro. So I’m going to let the coaches and whoever upstairs handle that situation.”
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