“My in-laws are already buying batteries.”
Quite the statement from Giants head coach Joe Judge, considering both the past transgressions of Philadelphia football fans and the fact that his in-laws are from Texas, and likely disdain the Philadelphia Eagles as much as they would Judge’s Giants.
But alas, Judge, the man with so much Philly cred, makes his return home on Thursday night, as his Giants face the Eagles in what is, even in Week 7, an incredibly pivotal divisional showdown for two teams in the moribund NFC East.
Judge was born in Philly; his dad, Joseph, was a Philly-area guy who played ball at Temple in the mid-1970s and stuck around, and younger Joe grew up in Doylestown and played ball at Lansdale Catholic before moving on to Mississippi State – where he met his wife, Amber, a track star from the Lone Star State.
So if anyone knows of the rivalries of the NFC East, it’s Judge, whose own brother carried them on in his household as a child.
"My brother walked around in an L.T. jersey his entire life," Judge said. "I think mostly just to make us mad because we were all rooting for the Eagles. But eventually you get used to seeing it and you understand why he was wearing it."
For this homecoming, it’s Judge in the Big Blue as his family is likely to be among the limited spectators inside Lincoln Financial Field – and they better be ready to join his brother.
"My only rule is anybody who shows up that I either grew up with or have blood ties with, they have to wear blue. I respect their love for the Eagles from being in the town, but hey, look man, you ain’t showing up cheering against my kids’ Christmas. You better come out in some blue cheering for us," Judge joked.
For Judge himself, it’s a chance for “revenge” of sorts, as Doug Pederson’s Eagles are the only blemish on the Patriots’ Super Bowl record during Judge’s tenure in New England, and be the hometown hero. But, none of that matters to the rookie boss.
"I’m sure it will be a little bit different riding down the street like it always is when you kind of get back in that town. Ultimately, right now, I’m just focused on the football part of it. To me, that’s the most important thing I can do," Judge said. “We just know we have a heck of a team we have to match up against.”
This is Judge’s first pro taste of the NJ Turnpike rivalry, but he has coached in Philly before – New England visited the Linc just last season – and knows what he’s seen in his lifetime.
"It’s an excellent team and it’s obviously a great rivalry," Judge said. "I grew up watching these games. They were always tough games, blue-collar type games when the Eagles and Giants played when I was growing up watching.”
This week, though, it’s all about football, and all about trying to get a leg up out of the mud pit that is the NFC East. The Birds have won 11 of 12 against Big Blue over the last six seasons, including seven in a row, and the G-Men haven’t won in Philly since 2013. Doesn’t seem like that long ago, but no one is left from that team, and only two players are even still in the NFL (JPP and Linval Joseph).
If that changes on Thursday night, though, a then 2-5 Giants team would pull ahead of a 1-5-1 Eagles squad in the division, and could be in a three-way tie for first if Washington tops Dallas on Sunday.
That is the true sad state of affairs, and about 7,500 folks will watch it in person on Pattison Avenue Thursday night. Hopefully, Judge notes, no batteries or snowballs, two staples of “look how bad these Philly fans are” arguments based on transgressions, will join them.
"It’s a great city with great, passionate fans…maybe I’ll wear a helmet.”
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroWFAN