Offensive Lineman Justin Pugh
Q: When you say crazy, just because of the number of snaps you played coming in from straight off the couch as you said?
A: Yeah, I mean to play 80 plays, a year removed, I had gotten three practices in. It's just one of those things, you've got to do what you've got to do for the team. We had a guy who had an unfortunate injury, limited numbers, it was like the perfect storm for me to have to go do that. I haven't played left tackle in eight years. And then the Buffalo Bills has the number one sack defense in the NFL. I look out there and it's Von Miller. The last time I played for the Giants was six years ago to the day against Von Miller, Sunday Night Football, when he was with the Denver Broncos, and I had to go out to right tackle on a whim that week. So, there have just been so many crazy things that have brought this thing all full circle and I don't know what it is, there is something in the air (laughs).
Q. Obviously, you were watching from the outside before you came in here with all of the injuries and the rotating that they've had on the offensive line. Have you ever seen anything like this in your career in a given season with a unit going through so much?
A: Yeah, for sure. With how young the offensive line is, moving guys around and trying to find where guys best fit. Injuries happen, guys have to slide over, fighting through adversity. That's something I've always been a big proponent of. How you handle adversity and how you come out the other side and this group is being tested right now and it's only going to make them better in the long haul. We have so much talent, it's just doing little things and sealing off some things. We're getting those things adjusted and I'm excited for the group.
Q. Were you pretty excited that you signed today?
A: Yeah, I was super excited. It got into the late hours yesterday and we got it done. It's the business of football. I started a podcast this offseason called, 'Net worth with Justin Pugh,' and it talks about the business of football from life what players go through and what fans go through and the ecosystem of it. This was like the purest example of business of football because everything that I've said and exactly how I said it is exactly how it happened and I don't know if that's just I've been around so long, I knew how it was going to go. The only thing I didn't account for was the 80 plays or left tackle (laughs) but it's football. You've got to get up and play, like I wasn't going to let the team down. I wasn't going to let the guy next to me down, that's not how I roll.
Q. Did you have another opportunity coming off that game? Had your agent made you aware?
A: Look, there was never anything that I wanted to do than sign here. My whole goal was to come here, prove I'm healthy. I told everyone it was a tryout for me to come back and go on the practice squad. I went on the practice squad, I proved I was healthy, I did everything they asked and here we are. So now, I get to wrap this thing up as a Giant.
Q. Does any part of this locker room remind you of the one you left?
A: Everyone besides the players are the same (laughs). Every personnel person, all you guys are the same, like this feels very familiar. It took me a little – it was like riding a bike. Meeting the new guys and like I said last week, I don't think all the guys even knew who I was or that I'd played here before or any of the history. It made me feel really good, because after that game every one of my teammates and coaches and guys that I've played with from my first year in the league to last year in the league texted me and said, 'You have no idea how proud we are of you,' and that means more to me than anything. There's no dollar amount that you can put on that. To earn the respect of these guys in the locker room and my fellow teammates and coaches, that's what gets me emotional or excited. All of it.
Q: How much better do you think you can be actually practicing at left tackle this week?
A: Yeah, obviously I had some cadence issues. The silent cadence is different for every team and obviously at guard I can really 'periph' the ball a lot better, so that was a major factor, and I was getting out jumping the count, then I was a little too slow and I remember coming to the sideline like alright I figured the snap count out, we are good to go. I am just going to go out there and fight and that's all I can promise you is I'll go out there and fight. It's not always going to be pretty and it's not how this game is, it's just I am going to go out there and battle and give it everything I've got. That's all I can ask. There are going to be bad plays, there are going to be plays I mess up and there is some story of life in there where it's like, where you get back up and you fight, you clear that play and that's something that I think is good for anybody.
Q: How'd you come up with 'straight off the couch' and when did you actually even record that?
A: So, straight off the couch, I was riding the bus to the hotel, and we landed in Buffalo, and they're like, 'Hey, you have to shoot your Sunday Night Football.' Obviously, I went to Syracuse University, and I always say Syracuse University, and I still love Syracuse University, so all my Syracuse folks out there, I give you your flowers. I love you so much. But I truly was watching last Sunday Night Football on the couch. It just hit me, like, I was a fan last week watching football. How many times can you be a fan watching your favorite team, the New York Giants, and the next Sunday you get to go play for that team on Sunday Night Football? That is a story. That is a story. I really came straight off the couch and started on Sunday Night Football, and nobody can ever take that away from me. If I never played another football game and that was my last one, I could go out like that. Then obviously, the Giants called the next day and said, 'Hey, let's get a deal done.' So, we were able to come back and keep doing it.
Q: Did anyone else know you did that?
A: I've got to give a huge shout out to (guard) Jalen Mayfield. I was going to do fresh off the couch, and he's like, 'straight off the couch.' He said straight off the couch to me when he came out. I was like, 'That's it.' That's it right there. So, I went in and did it. It was me, him and (quarterback Tommy) DeVito in there doing our Sunday Night Football, and DeVito has got some good personality. They were my hype guys.
Q: I'm sure you got a lot of reaction for that, all your friends, everybody saw that.
A: Yeah, I just called my wife after. That was the only person I really wanted to talk to after the game. She's like, 'Have you seen the internet?' I was like, 'I've seen I have 400 or 500 text messages right now.' And then I checked my phone and saw. That's how I want to go out, laughing, having fun. This is too stressful. This is not an easy place to play, as we've seen, and if we can go out and start having some fun and turn this thing around, that's my whole goal is to have some good vibes, to have fun and go win some games. That's what we have to do now.
Q: I know you said this was the only place you want it to be, but did you have other teams reach out to you and inquire about signing? Because once you went to the practice squad, anyone could make the call.
A: Yeah, I mean, look, teams can reach out, but there was never even a doubt in my mind. I came here for a reason. Before I even signed here, I had other options, but there was never a thought in my mind. I've said from—honestly, this is all Jerry Seinfeld's fault. Honestly. I was at a restaurant, Torrisi, in New York, like, four months ago over the summer. My wife and I are sitting there with some friends and across from us is Jerry Seinfeld. I hear his voice, and it was the most quintessential New York moment of all time. I remember texting my agent, like, 'Text the Giants, I want to come back.' So, really, if it wasn't for Jerry Seinfeld, I don't know if I'd be here right now. He's the greatest. He's the G.O.A.T. But from that point forward, I knew I wanted to come back here. Everything worked out perfectly. They played in Arizona. They stayed there for a week. I came and worked out 10 minutes from my house. They called me right after that, I fly in here. The way I started, it was just meant to be.