Sports

Kobe Bryant Is Inspiring Saquon Barkley at His Lowest Moment

Saquon Barkley’s knee injury barely a quarter into a Week 2 loss all but ended the New York Giants’ chances of making inroads on improving on their anemic 12-36 record over the past three seasons. The burden on the field for the team now falls on quarterback Daniel Jones. The inspiration off it for Barkley apparently will come from the late Kobe Bryant.

The New York Giants are on the lookout for help

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The New York Giants are expected to work out free-agent running back Devonta Freeman as they look for immediate help after Saquon Barkley’s knee injury, the NFL Network reported. Freeman posted a pair of 1,000-yard years in six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and surprisingly turned down the Seattle Seahawks’ offer this spring.

Barkley was off to a maddening start to the season, finding himself stuffed repeatedly by the Pittsburgh Steelers in a Week 1 loss in which he carried 15 times for a mere six yards. Barkley had run four times for 28 yards in Week 2 against the Chicago Bears when he went down on the first play of the second quarter.

He was taken from the field on a cart and was in obvious pain. The initial diagnosis pending an MRI is a torn ACL in his right knee, which would end the season for the league’s top 2018 offensive rookie.

The injury also sets the Giants up for a difficult decision. If the preliminary diagnosis is correct, general manager Dave Gettleman will have to make a decision on Barkley’s fifth-year extension before the former Penn State star is fully recovered.

Though he did rush for 1,003 yards in 2019, Barkley missed three full games after an ankle injury. This new injury is exponentially more serious.

Saquon Barkley cleans out his Instagram account

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Fans and reporters noticed something unusual shortly after the initial reports came back on the knee injury that Saquon Barkley sustained in the Week 2 loss to the Chicago Bears: The running back had gutted his Instagram account of all the photos of himself in New York Giants gear.

In fact, the only picture left in the account is one of Kobe Bryant that Barkley had posted shortly after the death of the retired Los Angeles Lakers star in January.

Naturally, that caused a combination of concern and curiosity for Giants fans. Was it a sign of a disgruntled athlete? The injury came in a road game, but was Barkley somehow commenting on the turf at MetLife Stadium, which the San Francisco 49ers complained about after multiple Week 2 injuries?

Stefon Diggs took all of the Minnesota Vikings pictures off his Instagram account in a protest over his diminished role during the 2019 season, and the team traded the receiver to the Buffalo Bills shortly afterward. Last week, it was unhappy Chicago Bears receiver Allen Robinson’s turn to purge his social media account’s contents.

The other remote possibility was that Barkley was taking precautions after seeing that Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson had been sued recently over alleged copyright infringement for posting certain photos to his own social media accounts. LeBron James ran into the same situation earlier this year.

Saquon Barkley’s message behind the Kobe Bryant photo

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Upon further review – to borrow some on-the-field football lingo – there seems to be an innocuous reason behind Saquon Barkley deleting all his Instagram photos except one of Kobe Bryant. It’s most likely that the young New York Giants star is looking toward the Los Angeles Lakers legend to draw inspiration in what will be a long and sometimes painful injury rehabilitation.

The beginning of the end of Bryant’s stellar career came in April 2013, when he tore an Achilles tendon after a stretch of logging heavy-duty minutes on the court. The recovery period and rehabilitation for such a serious injury can take nine months or more, but Bryant was playing again in early December.

Just six games into his return, however, Bryant sustained a lateral tibial plateau fracture in his left knee. With the Lakers an also-ran in the standings, the team decided in March 2014 to shut Bryant down for the season.

The 2014-15 season would see yet another injury – a rotator cuff tear – limiting Bryant to 25 games. Still, he pressed on with another rehab process that allowed him to come back at age 37 for a 20th and final season. Bryant’s shooting touch was all but gone after 30 months of minimal game experience, but he still averaged 17.6 points a game in his farewell season.