EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It’s training camp. New York Giants players have spent 12 or more hours per day at the team facility for the past three weeks. Any straying from what has become the norm is welcomed.
The players have been away from home for weeks, sleeping in uncomfortable beds and playing football and whatever other keep-busy games they can think of in the locker room. For the Giants, that includes "Four Square" and a soccer juggling game where the goal was to not let the ball touch the ground in your area. They also had the occasional spontaneous dance parties.
Training camp is basically the grown-man version of sleep-away camp, complete with much-welcomed and highly-anticipated care packages. And when those care packages arrive, it’s an exciting moment. Everyone gets into the action. The snacks and toys get eye-balled by all. Then they often get ransacked.
Only at training camp, the packages the players receive aren’t from their parents or guardians. They’re from their agents, or the agencies that represent them.
Giants linebacker Devon Kennard and guard Justin Pugh are clients of Select Sports Group, a Houston-based agency that represents 90 clients across the NFL. They received their personalized care packages (which took their marketing team months to put it together) early last week.
The goodies ranged from socks and shirts from their respective colleges, to smart water bottles, to Phantom training masks. They included a Grid Vibe vibrating roller, mouthguards, Lokai bracelets, a Trigger Point massage ball, and other SSG swag (T-shirt and hat).
It was packed in a personalized box with items that could come in handy throughout the rigors of training camp, which for the Giants began on July 27 and ended Tuesday night.
“[SSG] really hooked it up. Lots of cool stuff,” Kennard said. “I was surprised. A lot of the bigger agencies, they send them out. This year they went over the top. They hooked it up. I felt ours was low-key, the best one.”
Kennard’s favorite item was the custom sandals with his name and number on the sides. Sandals are valuable commodities in locker rooms, where there are often communal showers and hot and cold tubs.
“[The sandals] were sweet,” Kennard said.
Pugh enjoyed the waterproof speaker. He also appreciated the deodorized sneaker balls shaped like footballs, baseballs or basketballs. If you’ve ever been in a football locker room, or any locker room for that matter, you know those can come in handy. The smell after a long day of work in summer heat can be brutal.
But the way it works with the Giants' offensive line, Pugh didn't really get to enjoy all the goodies that arrived in his swag bag. It immediately became communal the second the box arrived near his locker.
Good thing those sandals had Pugh's name and number on the side. Those remained in his possession, and he was wearing them Tuesday while speaking with a reporter. That's what makes the personalized swag so valuable. It can't become someone else's property.
“If one O-lineman gets a package and you’re not at your locker,” guard John Jerry said, “we’re going to go in that package.”
This is why some players have been known to immediately take the box to their car or bring it home. That way it's out of their teammates' sights.
Jerry received a package from his agency earlier in camp. He said the candy in it was gone within minutes. Much of the rest of it, he simply gifted to the younger players. That's not uncommon, either.
Canadian center Brett Jones was the recipient of a lot of the swag from veteran teammates, whether it be a pair of headphones, a mouth guard, soap or deodorant.
“We like to tell him, ‘We know you don’t have this in Canada,’” Jerry said jokingly.
They may have those products, but they don’t have these type of swag bags from their agents in Canada. Jones had never heard of players receiving gifts from their agents until he joined the Giants three years ago.
He’s amazed by some of the stuff he's seen arrive every summer. It has included Yeti coolers, wooden watch cases and Giants helmet speakers.
“Some of the guys definitely get some pretty cool gifts from their agents,” said Jones, who also has benefited. “They’re pretty generous and they give it to lots of us. I got lots of stuff.”
With speakers, smart water bottles and all kinds of other sleek gadgets, these swag bags make for welcome surprises to locker rooms throughout the summer, no matter the intended recipient.