Don’t worry, Dave Gettleman is not forgetting his password, nor is he liable to get his fingers in the wrong spot to mistakenly hit “mute’’ when the Giants are on the clock for this year’s most unusual NFL draft.
These are unprecedented times for everyone dealing with COVID-19 loss, work and social restrictions. Kevin Abrams, the Giants’ vice president of football operations and assistant general manager, said Monday the team has “done our best to mimic business as usual’’ while acknowledging “Obviously it’s not.’’
For Gettleman, the 69-year old general manager and cancer survivor, often the target of ire for frustrated Giants fans, learning new tricks might be more of a challenge than it would be for someone younger and more indoctrinated into the ways of modern technology. The Giants conducted free agency with their coaches, scouts and front office executives scattered across the country and have done the same as they prepare for the upcoming draft.
“We’re really making it work,’’ Gettleman said. “One of the exciting things for me as an old man is working with these young guys and the technology, they’re really thoughtful and intentional about it.’’
Gettleman and Abrams credited Chris Pettit, the director of college scouting, for handling the draft coordination and Justin Warren, Ty Siam and Ed Triggs for orchestrating the IT and football operations with everyone working from home.
“Listen, there’s people in a lot worse situations than us,’’ Gettleman said. “And we’re thankful and we’re moving along and we’re going to get this right.’’
Gettleman is working from his home in New Jersey; Abrams lives and, for now, works in Manhattan, where he has observed a new nightly ritual.
“Probably the most profound moment of every day is at 7 o’clock when everyone opens their windows and pays tribute to everyone in the healthcare industry fighting this battle for us,’’ Abrams said.
During free agency, the Giants signed 10 players from outside their organization. None took a physical for his new team. This is highly unconventional, but necessary.
“Once everything resumes and life is back to normal, with doctor availability and travel restrictions are done we’ll get those physicals done,’’ Abrams said. “If they do not pass they’ll be free agents again.’’
That would be a worst-case scenario and could potentially throw the roster out of whack.
“What happens if you sign a high-dollar guy and he doesn’t pass his physical, now where are you?’’ Gettleman said. “Because you’ve spent in free agency and now the draft and you think you have your team set and you put together what you feel is a good roster and then all of a sudden the guy doesn’t pass his physical and you’re rolling the bones a little bit.’’
Many forms of remote social interaction are being utilized by the Giants — “Without going into the details of what technologies we’re using, I don’t think our IT department would appreciate that,’’ Abrams said — in order to achieve as close to regular communication as possible.
“I don’t think we’ve missed a beat,’’ Abrams said. “It hasn’t been perfectly smooth but it’s been cleaner than anyone could have expected. And whatever hiccups we’ve encountered everyone’s shown a real patience and ability to adjust so we can operate the way we need to. I think it’s been pretty exceptional so far and a lot of people deserve a lot of credit, people that wouldn’t normally get recognized.’’
Ordinarily, the Giants would be heavy into the process of bringing in their top-30 draft prospects for visits at the team facility. Instead, there are one-hour FaceTime interviews.
“We’re doing the best we can with what we have,’’ Abrams said.
It is not only the visits that are absent. Giants coaches and scouts, along with the rest of the NFL, missed out on most of the pro days scheduled in every region. The Giants would take those players out to dinner during these visits. Not this year.
“You also miss that personal contact, watching guys among their peers and how they operate and how they’re received, that tells a lot,’’ Gettleman said.
It is not ideal, but it is better than nothing and every team is going through it for the first time. Gettleman called the FaceTime interviews “pretty beneficial’’ but again, not like the real thing.
“Thank God you can see the guy,’’ Gettleman said. “I’m a city kid and a big believer in body language and all this and that. It’s okay, it’s not great, it’s not perfect, it’s OK.
“We’re losing the personal touch-points. We’ve got the visual touch-points but we’re really missing out on the personal touch-points where you can smell and feel a guy.’’
This year, all the smells and feels have to get squeezed through the computer screen.