Listen in to a Giants practice this spring, and you’d be hard-pressed not to hear the voice of William Gay.
“I just like to talk,” Gay admits. “It keeps me going. If I’m not saying nothing, my energy level is low. So I’ll be screaming for no reason, blurting out something. What we’re doing out there, is everybody is communicating but we’re probably just loud.”
Gay, or “Grandpa” as he’s affectionately known within the Giants secondary, signed with the Giants in April after his second five-year stint in Pittsburgh. Prior to that, the 33-year-old spent the 2012 season with Arizona after playing his first five NFL seasons in the Steel City. The veteran defensive back has started 101 regular-season games and seven postseason contests.
The Giants already see Gay’s big-game experience paying dividends for the new-look defense.
“He is a pro’s pro,” defensive coordinator James Bettcher said during mandatory minicamp. “Everything that when we talked about having Will join us, anyone that you talk to, loves his work ethic, loves the seriousness and the professional mentality that he brings to the room. He is going to ask great questions, going to be very engaged, has done a great job with some of our younger players. And [taught] some of our guys that are three- and four-year players, about how to have longevity in this league and play at a high level.”
Gay is one of a handful of defensive backs signed by Big Blue this offseason that includes Michael Thomas, B.W. Webb, Curtis Riley and Teddy Williams. He’s the most seasoned by far. Gay was the 170th overall selection of the 2007 NFL Draft, the same year Giants’ long-snapper Zak DeOssie was taken with the 116th pick. The two are among less than twenty players from that draft class currently on NFL rosters.
Gay knows guys look up to him because of his proven track record and time in the league.
“I don’t know if it’s necessarily just leadership, because we have a group, we have a team that knows what’s at stakes,” Gay said. “Everyone wants to put their hand in the pile.”
Primarily a slot corner in the later stages of his career, Gay doesn’t have a huge track record when it comes to getting to the quarterback – he has only seven career sacks. He’s hoping that will change in Bettcher’s aggressive-style scheme. But if not, he isn’t too worried about it.
“I don’t have that many sacks in my career, so coming into this, hopefully I can get some,” Gay said. “But I don’t know. I like doing everything. I really just like doing anything to win a football game.”
Gay is also doing his part to make an impact off the field and in the community. Earlier this month, he helped organize an event between the entire [Giants organization and My Sister’s Place](Giants organization and My Sister’s Place) to pack donations for thousands of victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. In February, Gay was named to the Advisory Council of the Biden Foundation with a focus on ending violence against women. The Tallahassee native was named Pittsburgh’s 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year and was the recipient of the Steelers’ Ed Block Courage Award in 2015.
With training camp about a month away, Gay is eager to get back on the field, only this time, with pads on.
“You get to real football, and that’s what I call it,” Gay said. “In the springtime, it’s football in shorts. You can’t do too much. But when training camp comes, it’s all out, pads on, real football, let’s go. And that’s what a defensive player loves.”