Don’t tell New York Giants head coach Joe Judge or special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey that you are a starter, or a star, and too important to play on the punt or kicking teams.
Well, Lawrence Taylor for one.
“When you look at the history just of this organization and where Joe (Judge) was raised, Bill Belichick coached special teams here and on the punt team here was a guy named Lawrence Taylor,” McGaughey said.
“If a guy named Lawrence Taylor, who is arguably the greatest football player of all time, at least on the defensive side, can play on special teams I don’t see it being ... it’s a part of playing the game. It’s a part of winning. You want to put your best foot forward in every phase.”
Judge, who coached special teams in New England before coming to the Giants, admitted he has used the Taylor example on players reluctant to play special teams.
“Sometimes you get a guy from a college program where he didn’t have to play on special teams because that was something they let somebody else do they could get a varsity letter. Lawrence Taylor played that because he loved football and he made an impact for the team,” Judge said. “When you kinda point out OK you think you’re too good to play on any unit whatever the team needs you to do Lawrence Taylor he wasn’t too good for that. He was out there to win and he had a lot of success doing it. Kinda right there puts ‘teams’ in perspective.”
Judge comes from a team that never hesitated to use starters on special teams, defensive players on offense, or offensive players on defense.
“I’m a firm believer in using the best players for every situation possible,” Judge said. “Hey look, I don’t care if you’re playing 60 plays on defense or 60 plays on offense if we need you for a unit for special teams and that’s best for the team, then that’s where you can make an impact.
As much as all of that sounds good, Giants fans are still scarred by the memory of star cornerback Jason Sehorn wrecking his knee on a kickoff return during a 1998 preseason game.
Judge doesn’t want to hear about the risk.
“I think it’s football. I think we have to understand you only take 46 guys to a game. When you have limited numbers everybody has to play. Everyone always asks me about starters. To me in the National Football League you don’t have starters, you just have players. Everybody has to play. Everybody has a role,” he said.
“Every snap is critical. We want to make sure that we have the best players in place to give our team the best chance for success. To me it’s football. Football players who love the game will play on any phase with the same amount of passion and effectiveness because they want to win the game.”