The Resurrection: ‘I want to bring championships to New York’
Sacrifices were made. As in weeks, months, years away from family. Nine to be exact.
Mid-conversation, Joe Schoen taps open an app on his phone to see how many nights he has stayed at Marriott properties. He doesn’t travel nearly as much anymore but the number is surreal: 3,360. Do the math and, yes, that’s 9.2 years. Unlike most bosses in this sport, Schoen is not numb to the absurdity of his profession.
“I tell my wife, we’ve only been married about nine years,” Schoen says, “because the other nine years I was in a Marriott.
“It’s crazy, isn’t it?”
This number doesn’t even account for the first three years of his scouting life inside Hilton properties. Schoen has quite literally spent more than half his marriage on the road. All while having children at his three NFL stops: Carolina, Miami and Buffalo.
Now, he’s the general manager of the New York Giants.
You bet it was all worth it.
Feels like yesterday that the Giants’ future was painfully bleak. The autopsy — as examined — was grisly. John Mara did the right thing in hiring an independent football mind and, now, the kid from Elkhart, Ind., is one of the most powerful figures in New York sports. Perhaps the most powerful with the Yankees and Mets melting into manure, the Knicks forever strangulated by James Dolan and the Jets a lock to jets away their hype. The hopes and dreams of millions are in Schoen’s hands.
This isn’t L.A., where a contrived fan base can resemble more of a high school pep rally on gameday. Nor even Chicago, where diehards would probably be pleased with signs of progress from its quarterback alone in 2023. This is New York.
Throughout his hourlong conversation with Go Long, the GM doesn’t waver. He grasps the magnitude of his job title. As he relives his wild path here, it’s abundantly clear: Joe Schoen was born to resurrect this franchise. After going an inexplicable 9-7-1 in Year 1 and upsetting the Minnesota Vikings in the playoffs, Schoen was faced with a string of franchise-defining decisions: Is Daniel Jones the franchise quarterback? How much is Saquon Barkley worth? Where could the Giants mine for dire receiving help? Schoen’s life prepared him for these questions and anything else that’ll stand in his way.
Ego is the enemy in pro sports. Always. Many execs entrusted with autonomy over a roster treat their office chair as more of an iron throne. They get drunk off power, wobble around for a couple seasons, stumble into a quarterback and are eventually fired. Conversely, Schoen did not use that number on the Marriott app — 3,360 — as justification for a total teardown. He never viewed himself as The Chosen One to cure all that ails Giants fans, by hanging an “Everything Must Go!” sign above his roster and revving up the tanks in pursuit of the No. 1 pick.
He is following his own unique playbook.
One he started scripting himself in Indiana as the son of a truck-driving father working the third shift and as a fundamentally sound basketball player who absorbed and inflicted more bruises than he could ever count. He might’ve grown up a Chicago Bulls fan in MJ’s heyday, but the players he idolized? Dennis Rodman, Bill Laimbeer, Charles Oakley, those willing to dive headfirst through the scorer’s table. (Says Schoen: “I took a lot of pride in getting under the skin of the opponent.”) His philosophy on life began to take shape as college graduation neared. Behind Door No. 1 was a career at Stryker. A salary north of $200K after a couple years. Behind Door No. 2? A life in football. Shameless hours, shameless pay.
He chose football, and those scouting trips were never an excuse to abuse the company credit card.
The New York Giants are in the midst of becoming a reflection of everything Schoen learned those nine full years on the road.
Film may scream, “That dude’s a baller!” he explains. But investigating what truly drives a player through research, 1-on-1 conversations and a sharp judge of character is most crucial. When life-changing money fills the wallet of a 22- or 23-year-old… will he be more apt to hit snooze on that 5 a.m. alarm? When it’s fourth and 3, Brian Daboll goes for it, and the ball is in your hands, will your palms drown in sweat? Schoen seeks the elusive union of talent and character. Unlike his predecessor, he doesn’t need a hypocritical “Assholes need not apply” sign on his desk, either. Schoen practices what he preaches.
Build a team full of players in possession of both qualities and — he’s certain — wins are inevitable.
“More times than not, the fabric of who the player is,” Schoen says, “is eventually going to come out in the end.”
There are days it feels like he was just running a three-man weave in an Indiana high school basketball practice. Or bleary-eyed on the scouting trail. Schoen has to pinch himself. He promises no day at East Rutherford is ever taken for granted.
“I still love my job. I’m passionate about it. I want to bring championships to New York.”
Here is why this goal is destined to become a reality.This is the fourth installment of our 2023 NFL Kickoff features.Go Long is completely independent. No ads, no corporate overlords. Our aim — always — is to pull back the curtain on pro football. Join our community today to gain access to all stories, all podcasts, all Happy Hours.