What’d he say? We translated Dave Gettleman's unique Yiddish catchphrases

Dave Gettleman has a way with words. The general manager of the New York Giants has a Boston accent so thick that even Sam Adams would have to do a double take from time to time and say, “Excuse me?” Furthermore, when Gettleman isn’t randomly picking and choosing where to use the letter R, he is mixing in the old European language of Yiddish and other references passed down from his Jewish ancestors. In case you’re wondering what all this has to do with the state of the team – and you probably are -- knowing Gettleman’s vernacular will help you understand what he thinks about, say, a mensch named Eli Manning. So here is your translation guide to the G.M.’s end-of-season press conference:

MENSCH (noun: a person of integrity and honor, a generally good man)

Q: When you and Eli had that conversation Monday, did the two of you come to conclusions, or did you leave it as the fluid situation that you’re portraying it to us?

A: We left it at that. We had a great conversation. He’s a mensch.  

Q: Why did you call him a “mensch?”

A: Because he is – the way he carries himself, who he is as a person, the way he respects the game. You know men in your life who are not mensches. You know what a mensch is. There’s no deviousness, there’s no duplicitousness, none of that stuff. He’s a mensch. Someday, I hope to be a mensch.

ALTE KAKER (noun: old GEEZER)

Q: Last year when you evaluated Eli Manning, you hadn’t seen him play throughout the season, so you had to rely on the film. You’ve seen him take every snap this season, you see him in practices. Why do you need to go back to the film to form an opinion on what you just saw over the last four or five months? 

A: I always want to be right. You always want to have your hole card and that’s me, that’s just my nature. I’m a film junkie, and there are things that I remember that happened that, oh, my gosh – that’s me. Understand this, and I think I’ve said this to you guys before: I am very intentional about how I operate. Very intentional. Methodical. Some people call me an alte kaker, whatever you want to say, but that’s just the way I am. I’ve been that way my whole career in the NFL. Very methodical about film watching and thinking about things in making decisions. I’m very intentional, that’s why I say yes, I watched every snap, but I want to watch the film and I want to have time to breathe.  

FAKAKTA (adjective: lousy, messed up, ridiculous)

Q: Did you see anything to make you waver, in your mind, that Pat Shurmur is the right guy for this moving forward?

A: Not at all. If anything, it reinforced my feeling about him a year ago when we went through the interview process. It was the steadiness, it was the message. We’re 1-7 and we have two practices during the bye week, I just was kind of amazed. Again, you guys may gloss it over, but I don’t know that you can really appreciate it. You’re (the media) there, and then you’re gone. You watch them stretch – what are you guys there, 15 minutes? Fakakta, then you’re gone. To stand there for the next hour and 40 minutes, I wish you could’ve seen it. Just the way Pat and the coaches kept everyone on task, going in the right direction, understanding that, to a certain degree, maybe we were the little engine that could. We kept pushing that thing up the hill. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s the right guy.

LATKE (noun: a pancake, especially one made of grated potato, traditionally eaten around Hanukkah)

Opening Remarks: Happy New Year. It’s good to see everybody. I hope Santa made a visit, or you had some good potato latkes. It’s good to see everybody. I just wanted to open with a couple thoughts to get us going. We’re headed in the right direction, I really believe that. We’ve had a year, we’ve done a lot of different types of things. Obviously we’ve done a pretty extensive overhaul with the roster. We consistently talked about culture and building a winning culture. Again, it’s a team that had to learn how to win again. So I feel really good about the foundation that we’ve started to lay. I’m not happy with 5-11, nobody is, but I feel good about where we’re headed. There’s eight franchises right now looking for head coaches and the common theme coming out of them was they needed to get in the right direction. Well, I feel very strongly and very good about it – and it’s easy for me to say it to you people that we are headed in the right direction.

If there’s one thing you can say about a Gettleman press conference, it will never put you to sleep (or schluff).

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