Offensive Lineman Justin Pugh
September 27, 2017
Q: Are you guys a desperate football team right now?
A: Desperate? I donít know if the word is desperate. Itís a big game for us. Obviously 0-3 is not where we want to be. Iíll say Iíve had experience being in this position before. I started at 0-6 my rookie year. Just keep doing what youíre doing. Keep coming to work, keep working hard. Obviously, you got to do a little bit more. You donít want to press, you donít want to push too hard or do too much. You still have to do your job, but come in here and give a little extra to these guys. We got to go out and get a win on Sunday.
Q: Is the pulse of this locker room fractured?
A: I think itís come together even more. Obviously when things outside of you, there is chaos and everyone is trying to tear us apart. No offense to you guys, like I always said, you guys got to do your job, but in here I think itís made us closer.
Q: How do you take the next step?
A: We start by playing complimentary football, which Coach McAdoo has harped on a lot. Obviously, the offense, we have to get on the board quicker. We had some good drives in Philly. We were able to build off of things we did in Philadelphia. We got to do it earlier on in the game. Let our defense play with a lead. They havenít really been able to do that at all this year. So, thatís a big goal for us.
Q: When you say things outside are chaotic, are you talking about the media or what the president said?
A: Well now you say that, I mean like media, social media, all of that. But obviously that is a big part of it too. I was doing a media tour this week for Conair and most of the questions revolved around the kneeling and the president. So, thatís obviously a big part of it. Thatís something thatís huge that is going on in our country. Thatís bigger than the game of football.
Q: What are your thoughts on that?
A: Obviously I am all for being there for my teammates. Iíve never walked in shoes as some of the guys in this locker room, but Iíve heard their stories and heard what theyíve gone through. Obviously, I want to stand for the flag. Thatís something that I feel very passionate about, my brother being in the military, but at the same time I recognize why guys are doing it. I think locking arms and being there for on another is definitely something that shows support. I donít think now that it obviously has come to light, what happened with (Colin) Kaepernick originally when he was sitting, I did take offense to that originally. I posted about it and I talked about it, but now realizing heís not trying to disrespect military, heís not trying to disrespect the flag or the United States of America. He is trying to raise questions and start a conversation and I think that is definitely something that I can get on board with and be there for these guys in the locker room and be there for guys because weíre a team. When they are sitting at home on their couch, they donít experience some of the struggles that some of these guys go through and we got to be able to start that conversation. Obviously, once the president came out and said some things, we have to show unity as the NFL.
Q: Today Trump said that if the NFL doesnít change, the business model is going to go down the tubes.
A: What if every player kneeled? The league would cease to exist? Is that what he is saying? I donít know. Thatís something thatís a little above my paygrade. I have no idea. But at the same time, you got to do what you think is right and every guy in here as their own opinion. Thatís what makes America great. You have your first amendment right. Freedom of speech and Iím all for guys exercising that right. To be there to support my brothers is something that I am always going to do and something that if you come at us for football related things or off the field things, Iím going to stick together with these guys. Obviously, there is a line that can be drawn in the sand, but I feel like there is a conversation that needs to be had and I think we are going to have it.
Q: Was there a moment that swayed to think this way because you said originally you were against what Kaepernick was doing?
A: I was against him when he originally had sat for the national anthem. I guess being a white man, I didnít really understand what was going through his mind, what he was experiencing and I tweeted about it. Everyone was coming at me and saying, ďyouíre racist, youíre this, youíre thatĒ I mean I guess it was more me not knowing what was going on and I think he realized too when he started to kneel and there is a guy Nate Boyer who I train with out in LA who is a former Army Green Beret and he stood next to him and put his hand on his shoulder to show that he was supporting him. Like I said, I donít know what guys go through. So, I think being in this locker room here, hearing stories from guys. Itís a tough time in this world. America is not perfect, we all know that. There is a conversation that needs to be had and I donít know the right way to do it, I donít know the wrong way to do it. All I know is that guys have the right to say what they want to say and thatís what makes America so great and I am going to stand by my guys in the locker room and be there for my teammates.
Q: So how do you stay unified as a team, but still exercise your first amendment right and say whatís on your mind?
A: Itís a conversation that needs to be had. Iím not saying itís perfect, Iím not saying I know what is right from wrong. Iíve learned throughout my years, I have to sit back and really listen and pay attention. If you donít listen and see where other people are coming from and you are just listening with the intent of responding instead of understanding, it is going to cause problems and I think a lot of times that is what we find ourselves doing. Listening with the intent to respond. I am going to impose my opinion on you before I have a chance to hear what you have to say. So, itís something that is going to continue to be a conversation throughout the NFL. Itís something that I think is going to happen throughout the season.