Ronnie Barnes believes NFL can work through COVID-19
Ronnie Barnes began as an intern with the Giants in 1976. 44 years later, Barnes now serves as the franchise's Senior Vice President of Medical Services/Head Athletic Trainer, and is one of the most respected figures in Giants history.
Barnes and the Giants' COVID-19 Task Force have been working hard to make the Quest Diagnostics Training Center as safe as possible for all employees. Many important changes have been made over the last few months in accordance with guidelines from the CDC, NFL, National Institute of Health, and the State of New Jersey.
While the pandemic continues to threaten the health and safety of those in the New York/New Jersey area and around the world, Barnes told Steve Serby of the New York Post that he is confident an NFL season can take place if proper measures are taken.
"Coronavirus is a dangerous and often deadly virus," Barnes told the Post. "I believe through education and safeguards we can have a football season. It is a challenge since the spread of the virus is not over. The great people of New Jersey and New York have done an outstanding job of adhering to the protocols that the scientific and medical community outlined. That is why we have been able to get back to this point. We have to continue to be vigilant. We all will continue to discuss what is the smartest, best next step.
"I started working on a plan for this virus the week after I came back from the [early-March draft] combine. We assembled key employees and educated them on the approaching novel coronavirus. We taught them how epidemics can spread into pandemics. We went to work right away to protect our players and employees. They did find it daunting that I took their temperatures at the meeting with a temporal scanner. We are still working to make a safe environment for our players and staff."
Barnes has been recognized for his work countless times over the years, as he was the first African American ever to be appointed head trainer for an NFL team. He was elected to the National Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame in 1999 and served a seven-year term as president of the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society. At last year's Super Bowl festivities, Barnes was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation's Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr's Salute to Excellence Awards.
Joe Judge has only been with the Giants since January, but the head coach already has complete trust in Barnes' ability to keep the team and its facility safe.
"I've got the utmost confidence in Ronnie Barnes in all the decisions we make as a team," Judge said. "He works hand in hand with us as coaches, he has the players' interests at heart, and he's been here through a long history of the organization and knows a lot of the progression of the years and how they piece together. He's been a great resource for me."
Quarterback Eli Manning got to know Barnes well during his tenure with the Giants. Manning did not miss a single start due to injury in his 16-year career, which included a streak of 210 consecutive regular season starts, the third-longest streak in NFL history.
Manning may no longer be suiting up for the Giants, but he knows the organization is in phenomenal hands with Barnes leading the way.
"I have no doubts that the Giants will go above and beyond all protocol to keep everyone in the Giants facility safe," Manning told The Post, "from the players, to the coaches to every administrator. Every employee that comes through the building will be in good hands. And I know that because I'm sure that Ronnie Barnes will be making a lot of the decisions to keep that place and keep the people safe, and no one cares more about people and their well-being than Ronnie.
"I know that firsthand from how helpful he was to me over my career, and also to my wife, my kids, my parents, my mother- and father-in-law — anybody who was going through any sort of medical issues — Ronnie was the first person that I talked to about it, and he went above and beyond what a trainer should do to make sure that they were getting the best treatment in the best hands. So I know that the Giants will handle this pandemic as smoothly as possible."
Eli Manning selected as PFWA's 2020 Good Guy Award winner
It's been a busy few days for legendary Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
One day after his alma matter, Ole Miss, announced it would be retiring his No. 10 at a game later this year, the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) selected Manning as the 2020 Good Guy Award winner.
The Good Guy Award is given each year to an NFL player for his "qualities and professional style in helping pro football writers do their jobs." The PFWA has been presenting this award annually since 2005.
Manning joins Tiki Barber (2006) as the second member of the Giants' franchise to take home the award.
"Eli Manning exemplified professionalism with the media since his rookie season in 2004, and he did so in the league's largest market," said PFWA president and Newsday NFL columnist Bob Glauber, who covered Manning during his entire 16-year career with the Giants. "Eli often spoke of the example set by his father and being around Archie Manning was certainly a great way to learn about being around the media. Even so, playing in New York has unique pressures that Eli dealt with consistently and fairly. Media sessions at his locker would often start with as many as 50 reporters, photographers and camera operators, but he answered every last question - even when only one reporter was left. A pro's pro."
Other nominees for this year's Good Guy Award were recently retired Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, Patriots cornerback Stephen Gilmore, Colts quarterback Philip Rivers, Broncos safety Justin Simmons and recently retired 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley.
Photos from the career of two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback Eli Manning