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Saquon Barkley reflects on being the Giants’ Man of The Year and looks forward to the Eagles

The Giants’ running back talked about being honored for his work off the field, as well as getting ready for the Eagles

Washington Commanders v New York Giants Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

The week leading up to the New York Giants first game against the Philadelphia Eagles has been a big one for running back Saquon Barkley.

Obviously, the Giants are preparing for a big game against a division rival — a game in which Barkley is expected to play a central role. If the Giants want to beat the 11-1 Eagles, Barkley is going to need to have a big game.

But also, Barkley has received a special honor and was recognized by the Giants for all of his good work around the local community. Barkley talked on Thursday about both being recognized for his off-field work as well as looking ahead at the Eagles.

On being the Giants’ nominee for the Walter Payton Man of The Year Award

Barkley was named the Giants’ nominee to for the Walter Payton Man of The Year Award on Tuesday. Every year, each of the 32 teams nominate one player who has had the greatest impact in the local community. Barkley has been known for his off-field character since being drafted and being nominated is something that’s near and dear to Barkley’s heart.

“It’s special,” he said of being picked to be the Giants’ nominee. “I’m honored that the Giants selected me this year. It’s something that I wanted to accomplish from the moment I got drafted. Through my foundation with the help of my parents, family and friends we were able to do some pretty cool stuff and have an impact in our community. It’s an honor to be represented for that.”

Barkley said that winning the Man of The Year award and using his platform for good has been a goal of his since entering the NFL.

“I wanted to make change on the field and off the field, I wanted to have an impact,” he said. “Like I said, it’s an honor to be a nominee. I want to say shout out to all the other 31 guys. I think it’s a really cool award and hopefully we win the whole thing.”

While Barkley works with many charities in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, he’s getting the most recognition for his work with Covenant House.

“I work with a couple of charities,” he said, “but the Covenant House started when I got drafted into the league and we were like, ‘What’s something we can do to make an impact and make change?’ We found Covenant House and said let’s bring Covenant House on to the games, and we started bringing them to the games and having them on the field before the game and talking to them after the game. It kind of just grew. Obviously, I have a past. I don’t like getting too much into myself, but I’ve been homeless before, I’ve been through a little bit of stuff. Knowing the people in those positions and wanting to have an impact and make change, that’s kind of where it started. I fell in love with it and became really deeply involved in it.

“Yeah, I guess you could say it [being able to relate to the kids he’s helping] makes helping them a little more special,” he added. “At the end of the day, I just want to have an impact. I want to make change and it’s something that my parents taught me as a little kid. I know the opportunity that I have, and I know the platform that I have. I just want to try to use that to the best of my ability.”

On the upcoming Eagles game

For all of Barkley’s great work off the field, he has on-field concerns as well. The most pressing of those concerns is the Giants’ Week 14 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Barkley started by complementing how well former Giant James Bradberry and Darius Slay.

“The first thing that stood out to me was how the corners were tackling. (Philadelphia cornerback Darius) Slay and (Philadelphia cornerback James) Bradberry were putting their face in there on a couple of the runs.”

Of course, as a running back, Barkley is more concerned with running lanes at the line of scrimmage

“Games are won up front on both sides of the ball,” he said. “They’re really talented up there and they did a really good job of establishing the line of scrimmage, making plays and making tackles they needed to have.”

The Eagles have a very talented defensive front, which somehow still includes defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Cox has been a thorn in the Giants’ side since being selected way back in the 2012 draft.

About Cox Barkley said, “You appreciate talent. I’m a fan of the game. Like I said, at the same time, not one of my favorite guys to play with because he’s a wrecker. He always makes plays.”

There’s obviously respect between the players on the two teams, but this is still Giants vs. Eagles, New York against Philly. There’s going to be smack talked, even if it isn’t necessarily Cox chirping.

“I get it more from (Philadelphia defensive end Brandon) Graham,” Barkley said. “He talks a little more than Fletch. Fletch is a little more quiet. He’ll say something here and there but it’s Philly, it’s fun. At the end of the day, the NFC East it’s a rivalry or whatever you want to call it. It’s a fun game and they’re the best team in the league right now. It’s December and we’re playing meaningful football right now. Like I said, it’s a challenge that we look forward to.”