Spencer Paysinger and the linebackers unit is bonding via text this offseason. Credit: Getty Images
The Giants linebacker corps is trying to get everyone on the same page as fast as possible, which is why they’ve comprised a texting group that includes the players and position coach Jim Herrmann.
The members discuss assignments, installation schedules and specific plays and performances, as well as plan social events and trade information on almost anything.
“We do have an open chat room with all of the linebackers’ numbers in it,” Spencer Paysinger said. “If any linebacker has a question, all he does is say it in the group chat, and whoever knows it can answer it. If nobody knows it, coach Herm steps in and he answers it. It’s very open. We joke around in there. It’s not all business. It’s a great open forum. I think it’s a good tool just getting everybody — all of the new guys — acclimated to being here and show them our personalities outside the locker room.”
Jon Beason, who joined the group midway through last season and is currently dealing with a foot injury, said he loves the new idea.
“This group text that we have, it’s kind of cool,” Beason said. “We’ll go into something personal on there and it doesn’t matter. Coach is in there; we’re all talking about it. Or if anyone has a question — [like], ‘Hey, what do we do in this coverage or blitz?’ — everyone kinds of chimes in. And then also coach uses it to update us. It’s been great.”
It’s also a good way to get a head start on the next day’s scheme installation, said Beason.
“Sometimes you’re not thinking, or you’re getting dinner, or you’re taking a nap, or whatever [and] the phone goes off and you check it,” Beason said. “[It will say], ‘Hey guys, the install is this.’ So you’re like, ‘OK, let me get up and get the iPad open.’ Boom, you start getting prepared for tomorrow. Now you brief yourself the first time and then you get briefed again in the meeting and then we get briefed again in our linebacker meeting. So, by the time you hit the field, you’re pretty familiar with it and can play faster, smarter and we can have a great day.”
Like Paysinger said, it’s not all business in the chat room, as the players also use it to blow off steam, crack jokes at other’s expense or set up hang outs.
“A lot of it is just getting to know guys,” Mark Herzlich said. “We don’t talk much football in it. But we discuss what’s coming up the next day and we all review it and we’re able to study it. Really, what I like about it is that you can just get a feel for the guys, joke around and talk outside of football. If someone’s doing something on the weekend, he’ll invite the rest of the linebackers so we can get together and create a bond outside of work. That will help us on the field, I think.”
“The beautiful part of it is anything that’s social still is work one way or the other,” newly signed linebacker Jameel McClain added. “People love the game so much even when they’re just relaxing, or just watching it at home or thinking about football wherever they are. And this social environment can easily become a work environment. You get personalities within one bunch where people get to just talk and have fun. It definitely helps us.”
Devon Kennard said he also likes the social aspect of it, but as a rookie, he really appreciates how quickly it’s acclimating himself to being a professional.
“For me, it’s more [for] work. I’ll ask what do I do on this and that defense, or did I do a certain thing right. They’ll answer the question or somebody will chime in,” Kennard said. “It’s good. It’s a very open group text. These next couple of days, I think guys will be asking different questions saying, ‘Oh, did I do this right for that play? What’s the install for tomorrow?’ It’s a little bit of everything. You’re open to talk about whatever you want, whether it be football or personal things. It brings me closer together with the rest of the guys. Some of these guys have been together for a little bit [and] some are just coming in, [but] we all get to bond and text and see what each other is doing every day and talk football, too. It’s a great opportunity for us to connect and kind of have some fun. ... We have guys saying what they’re doing on the weekend. It’s cool.”
Ultimately, Beason is convinced the camaraderie developed from the mass texting will help the linebackers on the field.
“Even though football is very different as opposed to an office, I think in any workplace if you can have that unity when it gets tough — because it always does — you’ll know that the man next to you will fight harder for that person when he has a relationship with him outside of the work place,” Beason said.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter@TBone8.