RB Saquon Barkley
September 10, 2020
Q: There’s been a lot of conversations about Black Lives Matter, the response from players going into this season. Have you guys talked about that as a team? What is your thought on kneeling for the national anthem and such topics?
A: Obviously, the conversation that’s been going on with what’s going on in this world, we wanted to try to find a way where we could help. That’s kind of the way we developed our Team of Teams, where we kind of pick places in the tri-state area where we can go and see how we can have an impact on our community. Yeah, the conversation of kneeling for the national anthem is a conversation that needs to be had, and it will be had. I believe myself and all the other captains are going to have that conversation today with the team. We want to have a focus that we want it to be team-oriented, where we find a way, which way we can do it in the right way and continue to still have an impact. That’s a conversation that I believe is going to be had today.
Q: Your thoughts on Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin making the comment he made a couple weeks ago about unity and just trying to come together?
A: I didn’t hear that. But Mike Tomlin is a well-respected coach. He’s been doing it for a very long time. This is not his first rodeo with the kneeling. Obviously, it started in 2016 with Kap (Colin Kaepernick), and every team handled it differently. We’re trying to be respectful to both sides and respect peoples’ opinions, especially the ones on your team, and have that conversation and find a way where we can do it as a team to still have an impact and do it in the right way that we believe. Whatever way that is is going to be the way that we believe as a team to do it.
Q: How did you feel about having to start practice over today? Did you think that was necessary?
A: I love it. I love it. That’s something that we knew we were going to focus on. Everything we do is going to have purpose behind it. Coach (Judge) didn’t like how we started off, so we had to start over. As captains and as leaders of the team, we had to step up to the challenge and I think that we responded. The thing is that on Monday, there won’t be any restarts. We have to find a way to have that energy and find a way to have that purpose from the beginning. It shouldn’t take a restart for it to happen. But that was the case, that was a challenge that Coach presented us with and I believe we responded the right way as a team.
Q: You’ve mentioned previously in the past your goal of being a complete back and how much that drives you. I’m just curious what is your definition of being a complete back? When you were growing up learning the position, who was the complete back that you wanted to emulate?
A: When I think about it, everyone knows personally my favorite running back is Barry Sanders. But when I think of a complete back, the best complete back, the backs that come to my mind are the Walter Paytons, the Marshall Faulks. When you think of Walter Payton, if you see clips or highlights of his in-between tackles, outside tackles, catching, blocking, there are even times he’s throwing the ball. I’m not saying I can throw the ball as far as Walter Payton. I’m not hitting a trick play coming up. But those are things. I don’t want to be just a special interior running back. I don’t want to be just a special outside the box running back, catch the ball here and there. I truly believe that with my God given ability and the work that I put in that I can be special in all phases. All phases, not just one dimensional. That’s something that I’ve been working on. I want to be elite in running the ball. I want to be elite in outside the tackles. I want to be elite in pass pro. Be elite in catching the ball. Those are things that I truly believe I can be, and those are things I’m going to continue to work for and strive to be.
Q: Going into your third year now, what kind of gives you that confidence that this year can be different from a team perspective in terms of the wins and losses and being there late in the season?
A: You never can really just go out and be like, ‘oh, this is how many wins we want, this is how many losses.’ You can’t predict that. But the things you can handle, it’s how you come to work every single day. I think the approach that this team has taken and the response we have taken to Coach Judge’s methods have been great. Obviously, we’re a young team. There’s going to be some adversity we’re going to face throughout the season. There’s going to be some adversity we’re going to face on Monday night. But it’s the way that we respond and the way that we continue to come to work and improve every single day.
Q: Considering what challenges the pandemic has brought over the past six months or so, what do you think it’s going to be like for the area to have football back?
A: I think it’s going to be amazing. I see memes and stuff all the time on social media of players crying and stuff like that and realizing it’s the last Sunday or Thursday that we’re going to go for a very long time without football. Football is a special sport. It’s a special sport. It brings people together. You get to go out there and see 11 guys put it on the line every single play. Twenty-two if you really count both teams. But you see us go out there and put it on the line. It’s going to be a lot. It’s going to be a lot. Obviously, it’s been a tough thing going around the world with the pandemic and obviously with the Black Lives Matter movement. But for us to be able to go out there and put on a show for everyone and all the fans, obviously, we wish that they were there in the stands with us, but hopefully soon in the near future, they are. But still able to watch on TV and we’ll go out there and show them all the hard work that we put in.
Q: You talked about being one of those complete backs and being dominant as a receiver and in pass protection and all those things. What did you do in the offseason to kind of build on your skillsets in those areas? What gives you the confidence that you can take your game to another level as a receiver this season?
A: My coaches. I would say no disrespect to any coaches I’ve had in the past. Right now, the coaches, with Coach (Burton) Burns and Stephen (Brown), they just bring two different dimensions in the way that they’ve been challenging me. Coach Judge and everyone, it’s been probably I would feel like the hardest offseason that we’ve had between putting the work in and putting the grind in. I think that’s going to translate to the football field. I’m a big believer in what you do in practice and what you do in the weight room translates over to the football field. I think, I don’t think, I know we’ve put a lot of hard work in, so that’s why I believe that the work that I put in will translate over to the season.
Q: Do you feel like you’re about to be unleashed as a receiver, because it seems like the last couple years, there weren’t a lot of designed routes for you. Do you feel like this system and these coaches and the way they’re using you now, you can kind of be featured as a receiver as much as being a runner?
A: Like I said, I want to be elite overall, whether that’s in the pass game or the run game. But at the end of the day, it’s about winning games. If I can do that by helping my team in the pass game, then that’s the case. If that’s by helping them in the run game, then that’s the case. If it’s by stepping up and making that key block, we might throw the ball 40 times a game and I might have to be responsible for key blocks, then that’s what I have to do. It’s not just focusing on just me being elite. It’s whatever it takes to help the team win.
Q: How will you know when you’re there? How will you know? Will it be MVP awards? Will it be rushing titles? Will it be total yards? What’s going to signal that to you?
A: I will never be there. I’m going to be completely honest with you. I keep saying I’m going to work for it and work for it, but the way I view myself and the confidence I have in myself, the goal for me to be elite is so high that I don’t think I will ever honestly reach it. But if I come anywhere near close to it, I know that I put the work in every single day. I personally can look myself in the mirror at the end of the day and know whenever I am done with this and wrapped it up knowing that I put everything I had. Whatever that is, if it’s awards, if it’s Super Bowls, if it’s not, I know for myself internally the work that I put in. I can be satisfied with that one day.
Q: When Mike Tomlin started talking about the Giants offense the other day, the first two words out of his mouth were “Saquon Barkley”. Have you come to expect that, and do you almost sense that they’re going to focus on you or what?
A: Yeah. One, that means a lot coming from a guy and coach like Mike Tomlin. Just growing up and being a fan of the game of football, I always had much respect for Mike Tomlin and his teams and have so much respect for the team right now. Tremendous players all around, from their defense to the backline. They’re disruptive. The guys make plays in the backend, the linebackers move well, tackle well in space. To be able to have that compliment from a coach like that definitely does mean a lot. Yes, I feel like… I think it took until really the first game my rookie year to put on display to people who understand the type of talent that I have. I don’t have any surprises that coaches are or might be keying in or dialing in on me. But I just have to use that to my advantage. When plays come, you have to take advantage of the plays. Hopefully it’s able to open up things for other people, and we have to take advantage of it.