Joe Judge: What I won’t tolerate with Giants; life outside football
New Giants coach Joe Judge huddle with Steve Serby to talk everything from his influences to his approach and philosophy, to why he is the right person for the job.
Q: Where are your Super Bowl rings you’ve won as a Patriots assistant?
A: Safe deposit box.
Q: You plan on showing them to the team?
Q: Why not?
A: They’re not relevant. I’m looking forward to ones that we could push forward and someday add another one, but the ones that we’ve already won, I don’t need to wear a ring to know what I’ve accomplished. I don’t need to wear a ring to try to advertise to someone that I’m something.
Q: Did you see the four Lombardi Trophies in the lobby?
A: I did.
Q: What were your thoughts when you passed them?
A: Just the history and tradition the teams built. There’s a lot of work that goes in to accomplishing one of those, to have four is very special.
Q: Are you driven to bring a fifth Lombardi Trophy here?
A: I’m not into predictions, I’m just telling you I’m driven right now of getting this team going forward and improving every day.
Q: Did you hold the Lombardi Trophy?
A: I did.
Q: What was that like?
A: Exciting. … It’s a feeling of a sense of accomplishment you share with a lot of other people who had a collective goal. You pass it around, it’s got fingerprints all over it, it’s sweaty, it’s wet. … It’s awkwardly weighted (chuckle).
Q: You mean heavy?
A: It’s heavier at the top to the bottom, so you gotta kind of balance it a little bit. … I’ll tell you what: It was nice. It was nice.
Q: What is your definition of toughness?
A: Physical toughness: Being able to push through physical discomfort for the betterment of somebody else. Mental toughness: Being able to do what’s right for the team when it’s not always best for you.
Q: Who are leaders you admire in any walk of life?
A: I’d start in the football realm, coaching-wise. I’d say Coach [Bill] Belichick and Coach [Nick] Saban. Obviously, Vince Lombardi is someone I’ve studied, obviously I’ve never worked with him. John Wooden, obviously with the success he had over a duration of time. Phil Jackson is someone that I’ve watched from afar in terms of how he’s dealt with personalities, and got star players to really play together and achieve a championship. I have a lot of respect for the leaders, regardless of political affiliation, all the presidents of our country. They stand up and they have to do the best for the country every day, at least what they believe is best for the country every day through a lot of criticism. I think that’s something you have to respect the office, you have to respect all the men who’ve been in it.
Q: What makes a good leader?
A: Someone who’s willing to put their own personal motives aside and do what’s best for the team and work as hard as they can.
Q: How do you motivate?
A: I think everybody’s motivated differently, so motivation is different based on the person, and you have to find out what makes each person tick to know how to get to him.
Q: Why do you think you can get to know what makes each player tick?
A: Well, first off it’s the willingness to invest time with a person and develop a relationship to understand what makes him tick, and I think I’m very committed to finding out about the players I’m gonna coach, to know inside what motivates ’em.
Q: What won’t you tolerate?
A: Anything that deters from the team’s ability to win.
Q: Do you have a lot of rules?
A: We’ll have rules and structure, I’m not gonna expand on all those right now. But we’ll have parameters in place that the team will know that they can operate under, and all with the mission of keeping us on the same path.
Q: What adjectives would you use to describe yourself?
A: You probably gotta ask other people. I could just tell you that I’m very committed, I’m very urgent, I’m very honest and I’m very loyal. If you work hard for me, I’ll have your back forever. I’m gonna be honest to ya, I’m not gonna waste time trying to confuse you with anything but the truth.
Q: What drives you?
A: I’m most driven through the teamwork of people knowing that people are dependent upon you to do your job. And I think that peer pressure of knowing that you have to do your job in order for someone else to be successful in theirs is the best motivation.
Q: What are inspirational or motivational sayings that you like?
A: How you do anything is how you do everything.
Q: When you say “old school,” you strike me as a guy that could have coached in the ’40s and ’50s.
A: I think I appreciate and value the toughness aspect of this sport. And I appreciate the value of tough guys. So, in terms of whatever era that is to play in, I think to be successful in this game, you always have to have those characteristics. This game has evolved, but when you break it down to the core of what it is, it hasn’t changed.
Q: What are the traits of the ideal Joe Judge football player?
A: Smart, tough and fundamentally sound.
Q: Who are athletes in other sports you admire?
A: I’ll tell you what, I’ve never been able to change a channel when Michael Jordan’s on. I grew up watching him, there was just something about him that appealed to everything you loved about sports — the way he competed, the way he got the best out of everyone around him. I’ve always been a huge Joe Montana fan, he was another one growing up that if he was on TV I couldn’t turn him off as well.
Q: Who are other coaches in other sports you’ve admired?
A: Red Auerbach. … Mike Krzyzewski, I grew up a Duke fan … John Cheney, I also grew up a Temple fan. Both guys [have] different styles, both very, very demanding, both very, very hard on their players and both saw a lot of results above what talent allowed at times.
Q: Why were you a Duke fan?
A: Just probably the age I grew up in, my brother was a Michigan Fab 5 fan, so I liked the Duke Blue Devils, I liked [Bobby] Hurley and [Christian] Laettner and Grant Hill and all those guys. We had to have the in-house rivalry between brothers, so I picked Duke, he picked Michigan.
Q: Do you know Bill Parcells?
A: I’ve talked briefly with him.
Q: What can you tell me about the man that you know?
A: He’ll look you in the eye and he’ll tell you what he thinks. That’s important. He’s honest, he’s direct, and he’s not gonna mix it up with a bunch of fluff. I think that’s the most important quality when you’re dealing with people.
Q: That sounds like you.
A: Well, I try to be as direct and honest as I can be, that’s the way I was raised.
Q: What is the difference between Starkville, Miss., and New York City?
A: (Laugh) We had a couple of Sonics with a couple of McDonald’s [in Starkville]. I think New York’s got a few more than that. My thing’s always been I’ve moved around enough, whether it’s Starkville, Tuscaloosa, Hattiesburg [Miss.], Foxborough [Mass.], lived in Philadelphia … people are generally the same. They speak a little bit different, and they have a couple of different dishes they cook different at dinner time. But at the root of it, people are the same. The same things motivate ’em, the same things make ’em laugh. And you gotta understand that.
Q: You’ve told us Belichick’s advice to you was to be yourself. What is one piece of advice Saban gave you?
A: I think it was about the same. You’ve gotta take what you learn, you have to do it in your own style, and that’s important.
Q: Do you have a favorite Coach Saban anecdote?
A: (Laugh) Not that I could share here. But I got a ton of ’em.
Q: I read that you once threw an Alabama player over the bench sticking up for a teammate at Mississippi State.
A: There’s different versions of that (smile). … I answered that in 2004 when I was … 21 years old.
A: Watch my children grow up. If I’m not doing ball, I’m with my family.
Q: You’re all ball, right?
A: That’s pretty much my hobby, man. I like football, always liked football.
Q: Three dinner guests?
A: Jesus Christ, my father, Teddy Roosevelt.
Q: Why Roosevelt?
A: The way he led, and the principle of toughness he had.
Q: Favorite movie?
Q: Favorite actor?
A: [Leonardo] DiCaprio.
Q: Favorite meal?
Q: Why are you the right man for this immense job in this huge city?
A: At this point, I’m very humbled and I’m focused on getting everything built to hold this organization to the principles and values that they hold dear. I want to get our team on one accord with one vision going forward.
Q: This team hasn’t won in a while. How do you break a losing habit?
A: This is a blank slate. Every year is different, every team is different. And we’re starting the season off, and the focus is day by day doing what you do to be fundamentally sound and to be able to play together as one unit.
Q: When Giants fans walk out of the stadium, what do you hope they say about the personality of your team?
A: I want them to say that they saw a personality that represents the neighborhoods they’re coming from.
Q: How do you know so much about the neighborhoods around here?
A: I’m learning as much as I can right now, but I know this is a tough area of hard-working people, and I want them to see a team that’s tough and hard-working.
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