General Manager Dave Gettleman
Opening Remarks: Great to see you. I just wanted to say a couple things. Obviously publicly, I just wanted to thank everybody for all the support you guys reached out to me. It meant a lot, it touched my heart. You know, I had this crazy idea that I should do what the doctors told me. So I did, and I'm in a hell of a place, physically. I feel good. I still have to continue treatment, the type of chemo I have, I'm basically getting 99 percent of it on an in-hospital basis, so when I go into the hospital I'm in there for five days. I've got three more rounds of it, I've had four so far, so I'm over the hump. I'm certainly excited about it, and just got to keep going. Like I said, I want to thank everybody for their support. Prayer does work, and being in the right place spiritually and mentally has been a huge plus for me. My family has been unbelievable.
I know you guys know that I spoke to the team on Wednesday, and it was great to see the guys. Unfortunately, I can't hug and kiss and do all that stuff because of my immune system, but it was great to see them and talk to them. If anybody had any interest, I thought I'd just say, listen, there's basically two points that I made to them. I've been blessed. I've been on teams that have gone to seven Super Bowls. I kind of feel like I know what it looks like, smells like, tastes like. And, the remarkable thing about all those Super Bowl winnings and non-winning teams was, they were teams. It wasn't about "Joe Schmo" and "Bill Smith" and this guy and that guy, it was about who they were as a team. Lou Lamoriello, who obviously has had a tremendous amount of success - he's back with the Islanders, right? He made a great statement. I guess somebody asked him about a player that apparently had left the Islanders, was a very good player, and Lou made a great statement which I believe in and subscribe to, in that, 'Individuals win games, teams win championships'. I talked on that point to the players, I discussed that with them, and the other point I made to them is, one of the things that everybody's got to understand is, this is the NFL. No one's on scholarship, no one's taking a redshirt year. So, what I told the players is, we're at camp. You guys have earned the right to get to training camp. Now it's time for you to earn the right to get to the 53. And then once you make the 53, you've got to earn the right to be on the 47. So we talked about that, and I said to them, that's every day. That's every rep, that's every meeting. I just shared that with them, and I just wanted to make sure that I made those points. Someone here may have wanted to ask me what I said, and that's what I said, that's what I talked about. I also told them that being bald is different. It's weird now, getting up in the morning with that head of hair, looking in that face, woof. I'm surprised my wife hasn't left, because I want to. Anyhow, I'm only kidding. It is kind of neat, when you think about it. Let me tell you something, (defensive line coach) Gary Emanuel said to me, 'Dave, think about it. You can wash your face and your head at the same time.' I said, 'That ain't bad!' Right now, I can shave with a tongue depressor. It's pretty funny. I shave just so I can put after-shave on. But anyhow, that's my shtick today. I'll open it up to you guys. Let the games begin.
Q: Dave, how do you feel?
A: You know, I feel really good. Sometimes I feel like I'm apologizing for that. My energy's good. Chemo ain't fun, now, there's been a couple days where – oof. I mean, it rocks your world. Now that I'm going through it, my gosh… It's not fun, but a really unbelievable scary kind of statistic: 50 percent of all men are going to have cancer. Just so you guys, you know, everybody's looking right and left. 50 percent of the men in the United States are going to have cancer. I'm blessed, I feel good, I feel energetic. This is a week that I don't have chemo in the hospital. Monday and Thursday I have doctor's appointments, Monday and Thursday I'll have doctor's appointments next week. Basically what I'm doing is, I'm exercising, I've been told I have to ride the bike so I've been exercising. I come in around 10:30-11am and stay until about 7- 7:30pm, and I feel good.
Q: You signed some of these players, drafted some, you've known some for a long time. How did they react, seeing you for the first time?
A: It was great, but they were coming up and hugging and all this, and I said, 'Guys, I can't do that, because my immune system.' You guys know the drill, your immune system gets down and you can't – you've got to be careful. You know, it's killing me because you have to watch practice from eight million yards away and I can't get to the locker room which is frustrating, I've got to eat upstairs at my desk which is frustrating but I told them, I looked at them and said, 'Guys, I'm sorry, you're stuck with me.' So, you know, it's been good.
Q: How has the adjustment been? You're a guy that throws himself in 100 percent and you know obviously with this you've had to, I imagine, cut back a little bit. How has that adjustment been for you?
A: It's been weird. Listen, everything happens for a reason. The Lord has a plan and for some reason, I wasn't supposed to get to Cape Cod this summer. Really and truly, what it is, and I'll figure it out, but I'm sitting in a hospital room it's, you know, it's not fun. It's fine, it's fine, and better days are ahead. The fact that I can do as much as I've done – I've been in Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, I'll be in this weekend. So it's good.
Q: What were your immediate reactions to being in remission?
A: Well you know, what was really weird was that I didn't quite understand it. Here I am thinking I'm pretty smart. When he told me, 'You're in complete remission,' it was like, it was kind of weird. I'm saying to myself – but, he very quickly followed up, 'You ain't done', very quickly followed up, 'You ain't done.'
Q: It was weird in what way?
A: Just all of a sudden you go from, within a five week period I'm told I've got aggressive lymphoma, and in five weeks, he said everything is going to be OK. That's a quick turnaround.
Q: Who was the doctor?
A: (Dr.) Andre Goy.
Q: Where is the doctor located?
A: Hackensack (University Medical Center).
Q: What kind of support have you had from the people around you? I'm talking about here in the building, specifically.
A: It's been overwhelming. It's like anything else, if you haven't been through it with somebody – should I text, should I call, nobody knows what to do. I never want to be that guy who gets a text, email, whatever, phone call and doesn't respond. It's been great support. The Mara's and the Tisch's have been unbelievable. Kevin Abrams has done a great job, having Mark Koncz back. The support, Ronnie Barnes has been unbelievable. If you're sick, you're crazy if you don't call him, because he's going to take care of you – and all those guys, Steve Kennelly, and Leigh [Weiss]. It's just been unbelievable. I'm blessed.
Q: How confident are you that you can get back to work this season? Full-time? Part-time?
A: Full-time. It'll happen. It'll happen.
Q: Have they told you to slow down at any point?
A: I'm doing what the doctors told me. For example, they don't want me in the sun right now. I made up my mind, I'm not negotiating anything with the doctors. There is no negotiating here. I'll tell you guys, I can't go on the Detroit trip. I have chemo that week and I can't go. My immune system is down, so here you are sitting on a plane, sucking recirculated air and everybody's cooties. Then you go in a hotel sucking recirculated air and cooties - that was a term when I was a little kid. There are certain things I'm not doing until I get clearance. To me, do what the doctor tells you. Good Lord, don't negotiate.
Q: Where were you watching practice today?
A: I was in the shade way over here. I was outside, I wanted a little fresh air. I was in Peru watching practice in Hackensack.
Q: What little you saw, what did you think of the team?
A: I was looking at the backs of jerseys. I was thinking, 'Wow, he's a big guy.'
Q: John [Mara] said the other day that he expects to open up negotiations soon with Odell. That's obviously your deal. Are you well enough to do that? I know you don't discuss contracts, but he did say that the process is going to start.
A: I'm well enough to stand here in front of you, I'm well enough to do that. Again, I'll reiterate it - don't waste your time taking our temperature. Contracts get done when they're supposed to get done. We've spoken, I've had conversations with Odell. So, that's where it stands.
Q: Having seen him, though, are you surprised or pleased with where he is at? Is he ahead of schedule?
A: The trainers told us he should be ready to go, he should pass the training camp physical. So, based on that, I'm not surprised.
Q: Has Pat Shurmur been everything you expected?
A: Yes, and more. He's got a great way about him. Generally speaking, I'm being very general here – I was a long-time pro (personnel) guy, so pro (personnel), you do the advance, you work all week, you go to the game, and now you've got to put a booklet together for the coaches and you sit down in your kibitz. Generally speaking, one side of the ball listens, and one side of the ball doesn't. What I've found is, defensive coaches, if you look at NFL history, the greatest head coaches – most of the greatest head coaches – have come from the defensive side of the ball. They tend to be very pragmatic. "Joe Schmo" goes down, "Sam Smith" goes in, these are our adjustments. I've got a head coach who has been on the offensive side of the ball his whole career with that pragmatic approach so, I'm in heaven, I'm in absolute heaven. He's very pragmatic. I think he's got a great way about him with the players. He keeps it simple. We're playing football, it's not rocket science. We're playing football, put the ball down, let's go, eleven guys, let's go. I'm thrilled with Pat. I couldn't be happier. He's everything I thought he could be.
Q: Can you talk us through what happened with Sam Beal? Did the injury happen before you guys decided to take him?
A: We knew about the shoulder, there was no mystery there. We knew about the shoulder, it's like drafting anybody that's got an injury, we knew about the shoulder. We had MRI's that Arizona had taken, he comes here, re-injures it, does what he does, and you know, it is what it is. Best case scenario, he's on the field and we're not talking about this. Really and truly, we felt we're getting next year's third round pick this year. So now with the shoulder, we get it fixed – it's about a five month procedure – and he's ready to go in the spring. So, it is what it is. Anybody can get hurt.
Q: You guys have made the decision, he's definitely getting the procedure?
A: Yeah, he's got to have surgery.
Q: Dave, do you look at life differently now that you've been sick and do you suddenly take it more preciously?
A: You know, listen, here's what I'd say to everybody. None of us laying on our death bed are going to say we wished we worked more, or gosh, I wish I'd emptied that email inbox, none of us are going to do that. I think, and I've been going to this place for the last seven years of my life, really and truly, I firmly believe it's faith, family, and football. Our legacy is our children. That's our legacy. Art [Stapleton's] legacy is not that he wrote a good article one day, or he broke a story. That's not anyone's legacy. I know I sound like an old man, but I'm not. You just think about these sort of things. If anything, it's just confirmed where I've been getting to for the last seven years, if that makes sense. Life is precious, I don't care what it is, you just can't not appreciate how important people are and how, really, we're in the people business. At the end of the day, it's not about how much money you make. It really isn't, it doesn't mean anything. It's really about what you do with your gifts, and family is our true legacy.
Q: You just signed Connor Barwin. Is he a guy that you had your eye on?
A: Yes, yes, yes. Again, I'm going to tell you this, you've heard me say it before. There isn't a day that goes by that I'm not asking myself, 'Have I given Pat and the guys enough players to win?' I firmly believe that, and I kept looking at our depth chart on defense and I just felt we needed a little more, one more veteran presence. I talked to Pat about it, he was with Connor, loves him. It's funny, as these guys age, if you manage them properly you can get some quality snaps out of them. Now it's about quality snaps, it's not about quantity. Connor still has some quality snaps in him.