Saquon Barkley suffered an ACL tear just 25 touches into the 2020 season, going down on the Soldier Field turf with his season over in Week 2.
Joining the Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson podcast, with the legendary boxer and co-host Jeremy Piven, Barkley opened up about his struggles dealing with the severe injury.
“When I hurt my knee, I’m not going to lie, that’s probably the weakest moment of my life, especially in those first few days,” Barkley said, via NJ.com. “I just couldn’t control myself crying, asking ‘Why me? Why me? Why me?”
The 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year had dealt with a high ankle sprain in 2019 that cost him three games and sapped some of his friskiness, but that didn’t shut him down completely like the dreaded ACL tear.
Barkley said running backs coach Burton Burns helped turn his sorrow into resolve following the injury.
“On that third day, it just hit, and it was just like ‘So what, now what,'” Barkley said. “This is a saying that Coach Burns is always telling me. It happened, so, like you said, adversity makes the weak weaker and makes the strong stronger. You have to pick and choose what side you want to be on.”
Barkley missed so much of the season it’s easy to forget the difference-maker he can be in both the run and passing game. In his one full game last season, he was stymied by a Pittsburgh defense at full force. But Barkley looked poised to bounce back in a big way before the injury struck in Week 2 — including an impressive 18-yard scamper early on. When healthy, he’s the biggest weapon in the Giants’ offensive attack. Take the top playmaker out of any offense, and the rest of the operation will struggle as Big Blue did for the bulk of the season.
The 24-year-old back continues to make progress in his return from the ACL tear. A fully healthy Barkley in 2021 would give the rest of the offense a chance to improve in a pivotal year, especially for quarterback Daniel Jones.
Barkley said that if he returns a lesser version of himself, it won’t be for lack of effort.
“No matter what, if I came back and things didn’t go the way I don’t envision it going, which I can’t see that because that’s the way I envision it, but I know I’m going to do everything necessary to put myself in the right position, in the smart way and the right way, to come back better,” Barkley said. “If it’s not in the cards for me to me to do it, at least I know I can look myself in the mirror and know I put in the work ethic and I did the little things and all the things that matter to try to make myself become one of the best to do it.”
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