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Bobby Okereke l New York Giants Linebacker

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
The Truth Network Radio
May 20, 2024 5:19 pm

Bobby Okereke l New York Giants Linebacker

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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May 20, 2024 5:19 pm

NY Giants linebacker Booby Okereke joins Zach to discuss his path to New York and what to expect for the Giants in 2024.


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Minimum $10 per order. Additional terms apply. All righty, welcome back in on a Monday. This is Zach Gelb's show on the Infinity Sports Network. We met my next in-studio guest a few years ago at the Super Bowl when he was with Indianapolis. He's turned out to have a very successful NFL career.

Now he's a part of the New York Giants as a tackle machine, and he's also a captain. And that, of course, is Bobby Okereke, kind enough to join us right now in studio on the Zach Gelb show. Bobby, appreciate the time. How you been, my man? Good, Zach. Great to see you, brother.

Well, thanks so much for coming in. So it speaks a lot to who you are as a person when you go to a new team. And before you even play a down of actual football, they voted you as a team captain last year. When you got that honor and you found out that you were going to rock the sea last year, just how do you kind of reflect on that? It was very humbling. I've had a lot of great leaders in my career, especially Indianapolis, followed a lot of guys like Darius Leonard, Anthony Walker.

So really took their example and, you know, tried to create it in my own atmosphere here in New York. Where do you think your career is at? You have a third-round pick out of Stanford. You had a successful run with Indianapolis.

You get the contract with the Giants. Right now, Bobby Okereke, the player, you know, 150-something tackles a year ago. Where do you think you are in your progression? Yeah, I believe I'm just entering my prime, honestly. I've made a lot of star plays, flash plays, but, you know, trying to break through that ceiling of being a consistent elite playmaker. And you look at the defensive side of the ball for the Giants this year. We know Dexter Lawrence is a beast. We know what you could do on the field. Kavon Thibodeau really started to get some respect last year. And then, boom, you guys go and trade for Brian Burns and give him a whole lot of money. Joe Shane wheelin' and dealin'. When you got the news that Burns was coming over from the Panthers, elite pass rusher, going to be joining the Giants, just what do you remember about the day you found that one out?

You know, I loved it. I mean, he's a prolific athlete. Obviously, my guy, Christian McCaffrey, was on the Panthers, so I knew about Brian Burns from there. But I knew it was going to boost the whole group. I mean, Dex up front, Kavon, just added competition. I know all those guys are going to be racing at the quarterback, so it'll be fun.

Fun to watch. We know Mike Martindale is not coming back with the team defensively. People are trying to figure out what you guys are going to look like with the new defensive coordinator. A lot of talent on this defensive side of the ball. Give us a little intel on what we could expect of the Giants' defense this year.

Yeah, we're going to be a fast, physical, detailed group. Yeah, I love the additions we have on offense. Our new defensive coordinator, Shane, is amazing.

He's very detail-oriented. He keeps us learning and growing, so it's been a fun process. What do you take from last year? Because I know you weren't here the year prior to that, but this team came out of nowhere to make the playoffs, win a playoff game up against the Vikings, and they lost to the Eagles in the second round. This past season, they took a step back. What do you take from last season so we don't see history repeat itself this upcoming year?

For sure. Obviously, we've got to learn the lessons. We fought with a lot of resiliency, fought through a lot of adversity. Guys got injured. Games didn't go our way. But we stayed tough through that fight, so we're going to take that resolve into the next season and really just have that kind of F-it mentality.

Everybody's got to go out there and ball out from day one. Kavon, talking to Bobby O'Karaoke right now, I want to ask you about Kavon Thibodeau. I remember the first time I met him, I said to him, I go, everyone talks about your draft stock, ball in and out, and I'm like, they're like, oh, you're too focused about off the field. And I said to him, I go, I thought it was a bunch of BS because when I watch football, I know how great of a player he is.

For sure. And I just think it's natural when you get anointed that guy and then you still have to go play college football. There's just prospect fatigue where we've talked about someone so long and then people try to over analyze a prospect.

And it's just a stupid thing that we do. You being in the locker room with him and seeing the way that he played in a market that's not easy, right? Each and every week when you're drafted that high, you are judged and you're either successful one week or you're a failure next week. What really impressed you about Kavon? Number one, his mindset. He attacks every day. He challenges people around him. He's one of the best leaders on our team, honestly. And I think he's just very detail oriented. And he has that mindset like that Kobe, that LeBron, that elite player mindset that, you know, I got to get this day in and day out. I mean, obviously, his physical tools are great.

Pass rush, get off second to none. So he's a year three player. He's growing. He's maturing.

And I think he's just got a great future that he's blossoming into. All right. Now we talked about the Brian Burns move this offseason.

Yeah. Right before that, you find out that Saquon Barkley is going from the Giants to the Eagles when you got that alert, right? A lot of people felt like he wasn't coming back anyway with how the contract did play out. But what was that reaction when you found out that, say, Cuomo standing the NFC East and just going down the turnpike? I mean, we get to see him twice a year.

What's better than that? No, Saquon's a great guy. Great leader. I was very fortunate to, you know, be his teammate last year and experience him firsthand.

I mean, prolific athlete and incredible leader. So it'll be a great challenge for us every every two or twice, twice a year. Now, I know it's a business, right? Like, hey, you left Indianapolis. You joined the Giants. You see Brian Burns come over in a trade. So this isn't foreign where a player leaves one team and goes to another team.

And there's history, obviously. But it did have to be a little painful when it's like, okay, we knew he was leaving, but to go to Philadelphia. I mean, I probably had almost every Giants fan in my DMS telling me to go smack him. So, I mean, it'll be fun. It'll add to the rivalry.

And I know we're all excited for it. We're talking to Bobby Okereke right now. Offensive side of the ball, quarterback room. Everyone's going to talk about Daniel Jones. You know, Tommy DeVito had a successful run last year.

You're bringing Drew Lockett as well. What can Daniel Jones, who is, we're all thinking, is the guy this year for the Giants. What do you still think he could bring to this football team? He's got poise. Well, he's going into year five, year six. He's a veteran guy.

So, I mean, it's time, honestly. Like, there's nothing really holding him back. We all know he's got a great arm. He's a smart guy, so I make great decisions.

I'm just excited to see him, you know, grip it and rip it. What stood out to you with Dave Ball in year one? He's just got a fiery personality. You know, he can be cool, laid back, or he can be, you know, mother effing you on the sideline.

But he understands how to motivate a group of men really well. Bobby Okereke here with us. Let me ask you about NFL Africa, because I was told that you're a part of this, and it's really cool. Just tell us everything we need to know about NFL Africa.

Yeah. So, NFL Africa spearheaded by Osi Umenyora, New York Giants' very own. We're setting up a trip to Nigeria.

We'll be heading out there June 14th, short trip, four days. But yeah, we'll be, you know, bringing awareness of the game of football and, you know, really just trying to prep some of those, you know, high talent prospects in Nigeria and get them, you know, prepared for this crossover program. What are your message to kind of youngsters that are trying to live out their dreams and you get a part of something like this that's so special?

For sure. I mean, if you have ambition, if you have goals, you know, don't let anything stop you. So that's kind of our message is that, look, like, you have the dreams to make it. We're going to come here and provide you every opportunity, all the coaching, all the wisdom that we've had from all the coaches in our past.

We're going to give you every opportunity because we know how hard you're working and the conditions you're fighting through. What's the biggest thing you take away from the Stanford experience when you were a football player and student there? You know, just the amazing quality and intellect of people that, you know, come to Stanford, whether it's, you know, famous concert pianist or you got Katie Ledecky or Simone Manuel who are breaking records in the swimming pool. You got the Stanford Hospital, like there's so much greatness around Stanford and all aspects fields. So it's just very inspiring place. And, you know, right. The Stanford education is very powerful.

Yeah. Like, I know you're probably not at the point yet where you're you're thinking about life after football, but one day it does end, even though you're in your prime of your career. So if let's say you weren't a football player and you have that Stanford education, what do you think you would have done with it? I'd probably be here in New York, you know, maybe working somewhere on Wall Street, some like Justin Tucker. Yeah, for sure. Call me Goldman Sachs.

That'd be a cushy job, for sure. That's pretty cool. How about the state of their football program? I know Shaw is no longer there. They had a great comeback victory up up against Colorado. Just what do you hope continues with the program in this bizarre changing landscape with the Pac 12 basically coming to an end?

Yeah, it's crazy. I know we're headed to the ACC. Troy Taylor came over from Sacramento State. You know, he's bringing a gunslinging offense to Stanford. So I'm excited.

You know, I think we got to catch up with the tides with NIL. Obviously, you got to be competitive in that space. So as alumni, we'll do our part. But I know those guys are working hard.

Yeah, it's the college landscape. It's such a fascinating part because for so many years, the players legally did not get a piece of the pie and everyone else was getting the pie. And you have these players that are just given right literally their life to the game.

And now they're able to get paid. But it seems like there's no organization in this. But you don't want to be the person that speaks negatively about it because then it's like, no, the players should be getting paid for sure.

So how do you think you would navigate this landscape right now if you were still in college? I mean, it's crazy when you're seeing guys getting agents like 18, 19, 20 years old. But I mean, I think it's positive. You've had coaches making, you know, millions of dollars a year. Different TV networks are making multimillion dollar deals off college athletes.

So I think they should just go share the pie. And yeah, I would be using social media. I'd be hitting up every brand. A lot of endorsements, a lot of endorsements for sure. The power of New York, right from a marketing standpoint, Bobby O'Karaoke is here with us. You were in Indianapolis, start your career.

Now you're in New York. How have you realized that since, you know, being here for a year? Yeah, it's incredible. The media. I mean, just the volume of media that's in our locker room.

I practice every day. It's a lot. It can be a little overwhelming for sure.

You know, the number of fans that hit you up on social media. It's great. You know, when we're winning, it's fantastic losing.

It's not so hot. But you know, that's, that's, that's the lore of New York. You know, we only we only want the best here. So I'm excited the opportunity to bring that to New York. Do you go to any of the Knicks playoffs game, Ranger playoff games? You've done any of that?

You know, I haven't. I've been locked in on all ball, but you know, I got to get outside a little bit. What's the vibe around the team right now? Like, I know you guys start these off season programs.

You guys are in hard knocks, not the hard knocks, but some version of hard knocks. What's kind of the vibe and the feel around the Giants because you know, day ball year one successful year two didn't go your ways. A lot, lot of injuries. People now very curious what the giants are gonna look like.

For sure. I mean, I think we're just a hungry, a hungry, hungry group. You know, obviously that first year surprised people, you know, made that playoff run last year, riding on expectations a little bit under them. So, you know, I had a coach, he always told me, it's like, you want to under promise and over deliver. So that's our mindset right now. You know, we're not talking much. We're just letting our work speak for itself. What was the draft like for you this year?

Because you talk about the media market, right? For two months, all we heard, Giants are taking a quarterback. Giants are taking a quarterback. You have six quarterbacks go in the top 12. Giants don't take a quarterback and then they get one of the more, if not the most explosive player in the draft.

And Malik neighbors out of LSU. So like, were you watching? Were you locked in draft night round one to kind of see how this was going to all play on out?

No, I was locked in for sure. Obviously I saw the mock drafts on social media, whatever. I'm excited.

I'm excited from league neighbors. I think he's a prolific athlete. Obviously his college highlights are incredible. He's a record holder at LSU. Just his demeanor, his poise as a young player in this league already. I'm just very excited for his future. The locker room dynamic, because like I'm looking at it as someone that's not in the locker room, but you hear the entire offseason, how Daniel Jones is going to get replaced in the draft. And now he's still standing there.

He's going to be your starter, assuming he's healthy for week one. Does that at all get a little bizarre in the locker room when there's all this talk and all this outside noise and then really nothing happened at the quarterback position? Yeah, not really. I mean, that's us as players. We do our best compartmentalize, you know, outside noise is outside noise. So our number one focus, honestly, is just John as a team, you know, studying football, pushing each other in the weight room, hanging out outside, just trying to be that tight knit unit that's going to stand the test of time. And where is the chemistry of this team, right? Because now you go from being a first year player in the organization, you already respected, you're a captain, but now you kind of got your feet wet in this organization and not everything's new for you. So going into year two, what is the chemistry of this group?

Yeah, it's very good. I mean, we're a mature defense now. And we're doing our best to push the offense. Offense is pushing us. We're a competitive group. Great leaders in the offensive side of the ball.

Daniel Jones, Devin Singletary, Isaiah McKenzie. You know, I think everybody's just very excited and hungry. And then personally, like one of our affiliates we're on in Indianapolis right now. Because it's a business, but there's relationships that you form with teammates and people that kind of paved the way for you that you learn from a lot. This past year, I know you were focused on the Giants and being the best version of yourself.

But how was that adapting where you had a big group of friends, you had a lot of people that you knew in Indianapolis, and then you had to get up and leave and come to New York? Yeah, I had a lot of other people I was cheering for on Sundays. I mean, my guy, Zaire Franklin, you know, see the season he had, you know, the breakout he's had and the career trajectory he has, incredible.

EJ Speed, I came in with him. That's one of my best friends in the NFL, Kenny Moore. So I have a lot of love and respect for a lot of those guys.

I know we got to go beat up on them towards the end of this year. But, you know, it's fun. That's part of the NFL. It's business. I got players and coaches on different teams.

And, you know, we're all, you know, working hard, feeding our families and, you know, trying to leave our legacy. Now, when the schedule did come out last week, was that the first game that you looked at? Okay, when are we playing the Colts? For sure. Yeah, for sure.

That's, that's pretty damn cool. So a few more questions, Bobby O'Kara Kay before we let you run, when you go into this season, you look at this division, you have Jayden Daniels now with the commanders Eagles start off 10 and one had a terrible collapse down the stretch. The Cowboys, right?

They always get talked about with being, I called him the drama Dallas choking Cowboys, just because they talk so much and they don't end up delivering. And that's a damn good division, though. And people are just wondering, are the Giants and the commanders ready to take that step?

How do you kind of look at the lay of the land in this division? Yeah, I mean, it's a very competitive vision. Obviously, Dallas is Dallas, they're always going to be a star set a team. The commanders just bolstered their offense and Phillies Phillies. So we know the challenge ahead of us. And we're excited for it because we know if we can break out of that division when that division then you know, it'll be it'll be great competition for us. So the last thing I'll ask you because the New York fan will be honest with you when you're winning in New York, there's nothing like it when you're losing it can get ugly and it can get dark very quickly. But fans will tell you, you know, you guys got to be better to the giant fan that like is a little skeptical after what they've seen the last two years where it's been up and down. I know you've only been a part of it for one year. What's your message to the giant fan that's maybe down in this team and are in this season? Yeah, you know, just watch us work, you know, we don't have any pretenses about it. We all recognize the situation.

We're in we all recognize the results of last year and we're just coming with a hard pad and lunch pail ready to work. I love that and then Dexter Lawrence finally being around him and seeing how dominant he is. What did you kind of take from him in year one? You know, he's incredible. And the ultimate leader that leads by example. He's the most physical guy in the field. He plays with the most effort.

He's just most dominant player. So when a guy like that is given his all, you know, it just inspires everybody else. Appreciate you coming on and join us today. He's Bobby O'Karaoke. Bobby, thanks so much. Yes, sir.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-20 18:41:52 / 2024-05-20 18:51:10 / 9

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