Giant’s Tight End Evan Engram discussed the value of having Saquon Barkley in the backfield in a recent New York Giants Audio podcast. As a second-year man, Engram is particularly qualified to assist Saquon through his rookie year experience from his own hindsight.
It’s one thing to be blocking for a rising star carrying out of the Giant’s backfield. It’s another to be the voice of guidance for that same star when you’re still proving yourself on a team that needs to prove itself to its fans this year.
“He reminds me of myself,” Evan Engram said, adding, “he’s really determined and really hungry. But he acts like a rookie. He’s surprised by some things… we kind of think the same.”
No matter what you prepare for, the NFL is a different level. Rising star or work-a-day member of the team, the professional level of sports comes with a professional level of everything else.
None of this is to suggest that Saquon Barkley is not prepared for pro football. His support network and closest advisors have surely prepped him for the world of the professional football league. And he’s in it. He’s arrived and played. So, it’s no longer new, is it?
It is professional football. A lot is offered to a hyped up, talented athlete, especially one as exciting to watch as Barkley. He proved that with his first carry in the preseason opener against the Browns; a multi-direction-changing sprint for a 39-yard gain.
There is no mystery to the seductive world of pro football. There is no mystery to the dark sides, either. This ain’t the Olympics.
Engram said he shares his own stories from his rookie season with Barkley, and that Saquon can relate to all of it. That sounds like the Giants have a healthy mentoring program in place. If not in name, then certainly in practice, wherein a sophomoric Evan Engram can offer his experience to a freshman player, even one as good as Barkley.
What happens out on the field is usually a direct result of the work ethic and planning of an entire organization. But what happens to players when they enter the wild world of pro football can be made better or worse by the commitment of their teammates.
So, when Engram describes Barkley as a “hungry” player, a kid who “wants to win”, or as “a kid in a candy store”, he’s really delivering a message, whether he intended to or not. And the message is this: For each and every newcomer, the experience of playing in the NFL is as exciting as every kid playing in a Pop Warner or school program dreams it can be. And when you get there, there will be mentors to guide you on your journey. Sequon Barkley is expected to deliver excitement and some serious points. He is not the first to arrive with those expectations attached to his name. Those who have previously gone down that road are waiting to guide him. And they will be there for the next rookie. It could be someone you know. It could be the kid playing in your home town’s league.
So, let’s go, all you young players out there. Give it all you got. ‘Cause ya never know.