Offensive tackle Nate Solder disussed making a difference both on the field and in the community:
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Nate Solder is more interested in being a savior off the field than on it.
In addition to his outstanding play on the field, the Giants' new left tackle is one of the NFL's most community-minded players. He was the New England Patriots' 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee. The award recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field. Eli Manning and Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald were co-winners of the award in 2016.
On a conference call today, Solder was asked if there is pressure in being the NFL's highest-paid offensive lineman. If there is, it's in ensuring he spreads his wealth to those he can help. A religious man, Solder has overcome testicular cancer, and his two-year-old son, Hudson, is undergoing treatment for kidney cancer.
"I think it's a shame on me if the money only helps the Solder family," he said. "My belief is that this money has been entrusted to me not for the personal comfort and security, but for an actual impact that we can have on our community and the people around us. I'm just such an imperfect person - I'm going to make mistakes, so I have to rely on Jesus. We have all through our suffering with our son and everything that goes on in life, so we have to do the same thing with our rejoicing and when things are going well, we have to rely on him. But by God's grace if we joyfully look forward to the momentary impact for the New York Giants, a lifetime of impact on our communities, and an eternal impact for the kingdom of God, me and my family could not be more thankful and excited, so it's just a great time.
"I couldn't have ever expected this, but we believe that it's God's wishes, not ours, to make the impact in our communities - for the kingdom, for people that are less fortunate than us. It's nothing about us having a bigger house, a nicer car, anything like that. So like I said, shame on me if it's just about us."
Solder spoke about his son's battle with cancer in a very public forum prior to last month's Super Bowl LII. He did so again today when asked about Hudson's progress.
"He's doing awesome, really awesome," Solder said. "We're so thankful. He has one more treatment left and tentatively they're going to do scans, they're going to do different things. … So maybe for now he'll be done with chemo, and they do that all very conservatively. Because they know that things can change and it's never over, but we're all very encouraged and very excited with the way his treatments have gone."
On the field, Solder will anchor a Giants offensive line that will look significantly different than the 2017 version. Former left tackle Ereck Flowers will move to the right side. Solder played that position as a rookie, and with 114 regular season and postseason games under his belt, he can certainly help the fourth-year pro make the transition.
"I'm excited to get to play with him and all those guys, because he's a talented guy," Solder said. "All the decisions and all the coaching and all that sort of thing, I leave that up to the coaches. I'm going to be the best I can to do what I can - lead by example and it's a group effort. It's not going to be one player, so I don't have the mentality that I'm going to come in and make this huge impact, change the culture and all this kind of stuff. I'm just coming in to play football and be myself and do what I can."
But there's no question that Solder will be the most significant newcomer on a line that seeks a sharp upgrade in performance under general manager Dave Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur.
While he is the most accomplished player in the group, Solder insists he's just one cog in the machine.
"I think that it's going to be a whole group effort," Solder said. "I don't think one particular player is going to change the whole thing. So with everyone that is already there that I know and anyone that is coming in, we're just going to have to work as hard as we can. It's going to be an uphill process and that's not saying anything about the past, it's just that the NFL is a difficult, difficult league and we're going to have to be the best that we can be to perform at a high level."
*Outside linebacker Kareem Martin, also signed yesterday, played with new Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher for four years in Arizona. He believes he can make an immediate positive impact on the defense, because of his skill and his position.
"This defense - I feel like the outside linebacker position is probably the most important," Martin said. "We have the most responsibilities. We're expected to set the edge on the run, rush the quarterback and drop in coverage. As far as a learning curve goes, there is a slight learning curve, but J.B. when he was in Arizona, he started with the outside linebackers. So he spends a lot of time with those guys to make sure that we understand the in's and out's of the defense, because he's going to expect a lot from us in that position. So he's going to do his due diligence and spend the time with us to make sure that each individual in there can play to the best of their abilities in this defense."
Photos of new Giants linebacker Kareem Martin, who previously played for the Cardinals.