EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Jerry Schuplinski wasn't interested in sweetening his first public remarks regarding his week in coaching exile.
"I would say professional-wise, it just sucked," Schuplinski said today. "It's a low point when you feel like you can't be in person with the team."
Schuplinski, the Giants' quarterbacks coach, and reserve guard Wes Martin tested positive for COVID-19 soon after the team arrived last week in Tucson, Ariz. Instead of attending practices at the University of Arizona, joining team outings, or enjoying the desert weather, they were isolated in their rooms at the Westin La Paloma Resort.
Because this is Year 2 of the pandemic, Schuplinski and the Giants are accustomed to Zoom meetings. But attending practice via computer hookup and missing the Giants-Chargers game in Los Angeles were not experiences Schuplinski relished.
"I thought everyone on the support staff and everyone on our staff really chipped in to make my experience as good as it could be in terms of meetings," he said. "I was still able to do all the meetings through Zoom and handle all of that stuff. (Offensive quality control coach) Nick Williams was carrying the iPad around and then (chief of staff) Ryan (Hollern) was carrying it around in practice, so I really got to be involved in everything from the confines of the room.
"I got a little bit of cabin fever doing that, but those guys were awesome in letting me do that stuff and letting me really be a part of it, and then it really hurt – it hurt when you find out that I didn't get a negative (test) in time to be at the game. That was really tough to take. That was tough to handle, but it is what it is, and we move forward. It was hard watching the game on TV."
More accurately, on his iPad. Schuplinski and Martin had to stay in Arizona when the team flew to Los Angeles. The game wasn't televised in the Tucson area, so Schuplinski had to improvise.
"I was probably a pain in everyone's ass cause I was like, 'Hey Nick, make sure I'm good on this iPad, make sure I'm set up,'" Schuplinski said. "So, they were great with me. The quarterbacks were great. Those guys were awesome. It's hard not being there in person and then the game was really the hard part. You get through the Zoom meetings and all that stuff, but the game was the hard part. My wife (Megan) said, 'Aw, it's too bad you weren't at home, we could watch it together,' and I was like, 'Yeah, I don't know.' My thing cut out after the first drive and so I was trying to get it on, so I Face Timed her and was like, 'Hey, turn on the game.' She's like, 'Oh hey!' and I'm like, 'Turn on the game, turn on the game' (laughs). I'm like, 'we'll catch up later, just show the game right now real quick until I get this iPad going.'"
The good news was he had a mild case of COVID and received whatever he needed from the team.
"I felt pretty good," he said. "I would say that I was a little congested, but this time of the year it wasn't anything major or serious. I just thought maybe it was the plane ride, maybe it was the dry air. I tested positive and then the next morning I got out of the shower, and I realized I couldn't smell like the deodorant. I was like, 'OK, it's definitely true,' so that's when I knew for sure. Just a few minor – a little congestion, a little bit of minor stuff, but I felt OK."
Even though he had to eat room service food for a week.
"(Director of sports and performance nutrition) Steve Smith, our nutritionist, sent me a bunch of water and they were great," Schuplinski said. "(Vice president of team operations Jim) Phelan and everybody made sure they were sending – I had more food than I needed, I can say that. I felt bad that I wasn't able to even eat all of it, but they took good care of me in that regard.
"We were able to get some fresh air outside and get outside and walk around a little bit and stuff, but I wasn't just totally sequestered in there. But for the meetings and all that stuff, yeah."
When the Giants traveled to California, Schuplinski and Martin went to Phoenix, where they were close to the airport and could board a flight to New Jersey as soon as they tested negative.
"We both had tested out at the same time and so we were able to get back yesterday morning and make it here," Schuplinski said. "I think we landed about one and we were able to get back here around two."
And just like that, Schuplinski was back in his normal routine mentoring the Giants' quarterbacks.
View photos from practice as the Giants prepare for their NFC East matchup against the Cowboys.