As the New York Giants have spiraled to 1-4 under the strain of injuries, primetime humiliations and an alarming regression from their 2022 playoff form, tensions have run high as Big Blue's apoplectic fanbase has unleashed their fury. Fairly or unfairly, much of the indignation and vitriol has been directed at quarterback Daniel Jones -- and in at least one instance, it crossed the line in the eyes of Saquon Barkley.
In a short video posted after the Giants' 31-16 loss to the Miami Dolphins, Barkley could be seen and heard cussing out a fan on the sidelines, calling someone seated near the Giants' bench a "b--ch-ass motherf--ker" for reasons that were not immediately clear. Barkley clarified in a social media post that he was going after the fan in question because the fan was yelling at Jones, who left the game with a neck injury, and offered more specifics to reporters on Thursday.
"You have a fan just 'mother–king' him. That just doesn't sit well with me," Barkley said, per the New York Post. "He's helpless. He can't do nothing."
Barkley's protection of Jones from verbal abuse has amounted to about the only protection Jones has received all season. Playing behind an offensive line without All-Pro left tackle Andrew Thomas -- who injured his hamstring trying to run down a blocked field goal in Week 1 and has not played since leaving that game -- or starting center John Michael Schmitz, Jones has been sacked 28 times and was knocked out of Week 5's game against the Dolphins after being sacked for the sixth time in that contest.
The Giants' offensive line is currently on pace to give up 102 sacks on the season, a level of pass-protection futility that would rival some of the worst offensive lines in NFL history. The record for most sacks surrendered in a season belongs to the 1986 Philadelphia Eagles, who gave up 104 sacks in 16 games.
Dealing with the negativity surrounding their team has become an issue for the Giants' locker room -- right tackle Evan Neal, whose lack of development as the No. 7 overall pick in 2022 has been a major part of the offensive line malaise, had to apologize for disparaging booing fans in an interview following the team's Week 4 loss. Barkley said that he understood fans' discontent to a point, but draws the line at verbal abuse -- particularly of Jones, who led the Giants to their first playoff win since Super Bowl XLVI last season.
"That's not in my makeup, in my character to boo and do stuff like that. But, fans, if you don't like the product that we're doing out there — we got to give them a product to be happy about," Barkley said. "Go ahead and boo. Or go ahead and cheer. That's part of the game.
"But have sympathy at the same time. He's a human being. Out of all people, it shouldn't be 8."
Jones has missed practice on both Wednesday and Thursday due to his neck injury, putting veteran backup and former Buffalo Bills starter Tyrod Taylor in line to start in Week 6 against the Bills. As for Barkley, who has missed the last three games with a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 2's comeback win over the Arizona Cardinals, it remains unclear whether he will return despite his being a limited participant in practice the past two days.