EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)After overcoming a major knee injury and playing for the first time in more than a year, all New York Giants offensive lineman Justin Pugh wanted to do was call his wife and hear her voice.
When Angela Viscount took the call at the couple’s Arizona home, Pugh didn’t get much of chance to say much about playing 77 snaps in the Giants’ 14-9 at Buffalo last Sunday night.
“She’s like, ‘Have you seen the internet?’” Pugh recalled Wednesday. “I was like, ‘I’ve seen I have 400 or 500 text messages right now.’ And then I checked my phone and saw.”
What many people wanted to talk about was the way Pugh introduced himself to the television audience on the NBC broadcast of the nationally televised game: “Justin Pugh, straight off the couch.”
Most players will say their name and the college or high school they attended.
The 33-year-old Pugh, who was drafted by the Giants in the first round in 2013 and later signed with Arizona as a free agent, has always said he played at Syracuse.
This time, he took a different approach. After an ACL injury with the Cardinals last October ended his season, Pugh talked with some teams about a contract but nothing got done until the Giants signed him to their practice squad on Oct. 3. He practiced for three days but did not make the trip to Miami for New York’s game against the Dolphins. He sat on his couch and watched Dallas play San Francisco in that week’s Sunday night game.
After practicing for three days this past week, Pugh was elevated to the active roster for the Bills game. NBC came in and shot its videos of the players introducing themselves, and that’s when Pugh – with the help of a teammate – came up with the phrase that lit up the internet.
“I truly was watching last ‘Sunday Night Football’ on the couch,” Pugh said. “It just hit me, like, I was a fan last week watching football. How many times can you be a fan watching your favorite team, the New York Giants, and the next Sunday you get to go play for that team on ‘Sunday Night Football’?
“That is a story,” he added. ”That is a story. I really came straight off the couch and started on ‘Sunday Night Football,’ and nobody can ever take that away from me. If I never played another football game and that was my last one, I could go out like that.”
The free-spirited Pugh gave credit to fellow offensive lineman Jalen Mayfield, another practice squad player. He was going over some ideas before taping, and quarterback Tommy DeVito and Mayfield were in the room with him.
Pugh told them he was going to describe himself as “fresh off the couch.”
“He (Mayfield) said ‘straight off the couch’ to me when he came out. I was like, ‘That’s it.’ That’s it right there. So, I went in and did it.”
Not only was Pugh a hit on the internet, the Giants (1-5) liked his performance. He was signed to the active roster on Wednesday. He will probably start again Sunday at MetLife Stadium against Washington (3-3).
“That’s how I want to go out, laughing, having fun,” Pugh said. “This is too stressful. This is not an easy place to play, as we’ve seen, and if we can go out and start having some fun and turn this thing around, that’s my whole goal is to have some good vibes, to have fun and go win some games. That’s what we have to do now.”
Pugh, who first worked out for the Giants in September, wants to keep playing for New York, adding comedian Jerry Seinfeld played a role in his return to the team. He was in a restaurant in New York about four month ago and Seinfeld was sitting at a table across from him.
“I hear his voice, and it was the most quintessential New York moment of all time,” Pugh said. “I remember texting my agent, like, ‘Text the Giants, I want to come back.’ So, really, if it wasn’t for Jerry Seinfeld, I don’t know if I’d be here right now.”
However it happened, Pugh is finally off the couch.
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