For a city that has given Saquon Barkley more trouble than success, the Giants running back is still thankful to be in New York.
At his annual Thanksgiving Turkey Drive on Monday at The Bronx River Community Center, Barkley said he doesn’t get caught up in the business of the league and rather stays focused on what he has in front of him.
“I’m just thankful for everything. You know, I try to stay really focused on that,” he said when asked why he is thankful to be in New York despite the challenges he faced in the offseason with his contract. “Just being blessed. Another day of life. I have a beautiful family, a healthy family. I wake up and I play a child’s game and I get paid a lot of money for it.
“So, I don’t get caught up in it too much and all the other stuff. I’m just really thankful that I’m able to do what I’m able to do.”
Barkley has been adamant about saying he wants to stay with the Giants and being loyal to his first and only NFL team despite the obstacles thrown at him throughout his six years in the league.
The Giants have struggled in five of the six seasons since he was drafted in 2018, with 2022 representing the sole winning record (9-7) and the team’s first playoff berth since 2016.
The team Barkley was drafted by is nowhere to be seen now, as he is working with his third head coach in Brian Daboll (following Pat Shurmur and Joe Judge) and his fourth offensive coordinator in Mike Kafka (after Mike Shula, Jason Garrett and Freddie Kitchens).
Additionally, the general manager who drafted him as the No. 2 overall pick, Dave Gettleman, is no longer with the Giants, which left Barkley to face a front office this offseason that had no particular loyalty to him when negotiating his new contract.
After not receiving a long-term deal and making the decision not to hold out after being hit with the franchise tag, Barkley signed a one-year deal for $10.1 million with $900,000 in incentives he won’t reach after missing three games with an ankle injury and the Giants falling out of playoff contention.
Yet, there he was Monday, just a few days before Thanksgiving, handing out more than 300 turkeys and perishables to those in need in the neighborhood where his mother grew up.
“That makes it even more special. It is great to be here seeing everyone volunteer and put a smile on people’s faces,” he said. “A lot of smiles. A lot of jokes. Definitely testing my Spanish a bit, too. Definitely gotta get sharper on that.”
Barkley mentioned the importance of meeting the people in his community rather than simply donating money to give back or some other “easy way.”
He wants to be with the people around him in the city to which he is devoted.
“I feel like it’s something special to come out here and see the look on their faces, put a smile on their faces,” he said. “ And not just standing around, actually doing the work too with the volunteers. I feel like it goes a long way, hopefully we’re making an impact.”