Justin Pugh, the newly-signed New York Giants offensive lineman, was ecstatic upon hearing his signing to the active roster on Wednesday. The 2013 Giants’ first-round selection played 77 snaps — 68 of them at left tackle — with three practices at left guard under his belt.
Before signing to the Giants’ practice squad, Pugh was recovering from last year’s Week 6 torn ACL. In his words, he was “straight off the couch” on Sunday Night Football, and he performed well, all things considered.
Pugh said Wednesday his return to the “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.”
The stars aligned for Pugh and the Giants, what’s the deal with that?!? Somewhere, in New York or Los Angeles, Larry David is constructing a script about this situation.
Pugh said he had other options but “there was never even a doubt in my mind” that he wanted to play for the Giants.
Fun fact. Pugh said the last time he played for the Giants was against the Denver Broncos and Von Miller on Sunday Night Football. Well, another aspect of this story came full circle, as Pugh was tasked to block Von Miller in Week 6.
“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,” he said. “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.”
With Andrew Thomas still not practicing due to his hamstring injury, Pugh could be filling in at left tackle for a while.
“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,” Pugh said. “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.”
Pugh discussed his reasoning for saying “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,” Pugh said.
“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.”
Pugh credited teammate Jalen Mayfield for switching Pugh’s original fresh off the couch to straight off the couch. He then stated that Tommy DeVito was a hype man for the bit as well. A certain comedian would be happy to see their sense of humor.
Pugh said he got congratulations from both new and old teammates for what he did against the Bills.
“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,” Pugh said. “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.”
Pugh also discussed the importance of fighting through adversity, as he was forced to do throughout his career with injuries. The Giants’ current offensive line room is rife with injuries. Here’s Pugh’s response to a question on if he’s ever seen an offensive line unit with so many injuries that forced so much rotation throughout the line:
“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,” he said. “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.”
In his short time back with the Giants, Justin Pugh’s leadership is palpable. The 33-year-old is a welcomed and much-needed addition to an offensive line that has surrendered more pressures than any other unit in the league.