DeAndre Baker’s Giants and NFL career was intercepted by the justice system on Friday, finally, charged with four counts of robbery with a firearm, innocent until proven guilty in a court of law and facing a mandatory minimum 10 years in prison … on the Commissioner’s Exempt list, heading ominously toward the Exiled list.
For now, it is a sad commentary on a kid who had it all, drafted in the first round by Dave Gettleman and the New York Football Giants, and just didn’t get it. Seemingly to have thrown a dream away one fateful Florida night in May, during a pandemic no less, an incomprehensible act of recklessness and stupidity and failure to recognize that it is a privilege and not a right to be an NFL professional if all true.
At a time when Joe Judge is five months into his first head coaching job and talking about building a winning culture and fielding a team that represents the blue-collar working men and women of the metropolitan area, Baker is charged with acting like a tone-deaf thug.
If and when the rookie head coach of the Giants becomes Judge and Jury, it is impossible to believe the verdict will be anything except guilty barring another unforeseen development in this disturbing saga.
The analytics crowd railed at Gettleman when he used the No. 2-overall pick in 2018 on a running back, of all things, but this was a day when Giants fans might agree that he was as right about Saquon Barkley as he was wrong about DeAndre Baker.
Barkley is who you want one of the faces of your franchise to be, carrying the trappings of a burgeoning star with grace, who says and does the right things at every turn, a natural born leader that others follow.
This was Barkley on a Zoom call not long after the breaking news about Baker, talking about the pandemic life he envisions:
“If you want to go grab a bite to eat, you gotta be smart with people. I’d [have] fans come up and ask you for pictures or an autograph, that’s something that I’ve seen happen to me a little bit, and just kinda be smart and make sure I wear my mask and make sure they’re wearing a mask … obviously still be polite, but just try and focus on the things that … that could be that little situation, that little scenario where it could turn for the worse.
“Obviously still try to live the life that you love to live, but just do it in a smarter way, ’cause you’re not really just protecting yourself. You’re protecting people at your home, and then when you come here, you’re protecting everyone in this facility and everyone that day that they’re there.”
It is fair to wonder on this day whether DeAndre Baker would have had the health and well-being of teammates and coaches in mind the way Saquon Barkley does at all times.
Barkley understands and appreciates what it means to be a New York Football Giant.
“You have to understand history, and what we’re known for,” Barkley said. “The Giants are known for being tough, physical and doing the little things right.”
Judge is the rookie head coach because the Giants mostly haven’t done the little things — not to mention the big things — right since Super Bowl XLVI. He has reminded his young Giants of The Way It Was via Kahoot! challenge trivia questions.
“It’s kinda been a focal point for us in the short time we’ve been here,” Barkley said.
Barkley is 9-23 as a Giant, in part because the analytics crowd is right that a franchise quarterback drives the won-lost record more than even a generational running back, but he has always kept the glass half-full, never threw anyone under the bus, was true blue to Eli Manning and to his first NFL HC, Pat Shurmur, to the end. He will be a willing ambassador now for Judge and Daniel Jones.
When he was asked about the off-the-field legal troubles of Baker and former Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas, Barkley read directly from the Joe Judge playbook.
“I’m not really gonna be speaking on that, I’m kinda just focusing on coming in here, working every single day trying to grow as a leader and get better every single day to help my team.”
His sophomore season was compromised by a high ankle sprain. It only adds fuel to his fire.
“My focus, try to get bigger, stronger and faster, which I think I was able to accomplish this offseason,” Barkley said.
He loves being a Giant. He is living out his dream. He is the anti-DeAndre Baker, who is living out a nightmare of his own making.
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