“Living at home?” Barkley asked quizzically.
When informed by ESPN that this week’s starting Giants quarterback, New Jersey native Tommy DeVito, was living at home, Barkley asked with whom.
With his parents, of course.
“For real?” Barkley said with a chuckle, unaware that DeVito was playing for the Giants while living in his childhood home in Cedar Grove, N.J., nine miles away from the team’s practice facility and stadium.
Taylor said Thursday his injury was “not season-ending in my mind.” That means he could be back after the Giants’ bye week. Until then, the next three weeks seem to be DeVito’s.
It makes sense that DeVito lives at home, given the situation. He is a rookie, an undrafted free agent, playing for his hometown team. He’s a Don Bosco Prep High School star who wasn’t even sure he would be on the roster this season after six collegiate years, the final being at the University of Illinois.
DeVito started the season on the practice squad. He was signed to the active roster last week when Taylor went on injured reserve.
“It was a no-brainer for me,” DeVito told ESPN about living with his parents. “Everything that I need is there at the house. The decision was made since this level of football is stressful for a rookie, especially from the quarterback position. There is a lot going on, a lot of meetings. So everything outside of football is handled by my family.
“I don’t have to worry about laundry, what I’m eating for dinner, chicken cutlets and all that is waiting for me when I get there. My mom still makes my bed. Everything is handled for me. Honestly, I don’t even know if I could find a place closer to here than where I live. It takes me 12 minutes to get here.”
Veteran offensive lineman Justin Pugh also had no idea DeVito was living at home. Pugh said in his 11 professional seasons he hasn’t known of a player who lived at home during the season, although there have been a few.
But he’s certainly not against such an arrangement, especially considering the work and growth he’s seen from his fellow Syracuse product.
“That is the greatest. You know what, smart!” Pugh said. “Saving his money. Genius! That’s the one thing I’d say from a financial standpoint. Your mom helping with your wash, making sure you’re up on time, no distractions, unbelievable.”
While Pugh expects an invite in the future for a Sunday meal with the offensive line, the DeVitos have already served as familial hosts. Wide receivers Jalin Hyatt, Wan’Dale Robinson and Bryce Ford-Wheaton have all been over.
Hyatt, a fellow rookie, even credits DeVito with putting him onto the good restaurants and spots in the area after moving to New Jersey in the spring.
“I’ve been over there. I love going to his spot,” Hyatt said. “He has a little hot tub in the back. The crazy thing about it is he lives, maybe, 15 minutes away. So he’s close.”
At the postgame news conference following Sunday’s 30-6 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, when he entered after starter Daniel Jones tore the ACL in his right knee, DeVito wore a cut sleeves black and white t-shirt that caught even the attention of coach Brian Daboll. His personality has won over his teammates.
“When I came out here, that is what I thought a New Jersey guy was,” offensive lineman Ben Bredeson said. “I love Tommy. Absolutely love Tommy. He’s got, obviously, a loud personality. But he’s always fun, always having a good time. He’s just a very self-confident guy, and not in a bad way.”
And as offensive coordinator Mike Kafka said on Thursday, he also has a unique opportunity. The kind of opportunity that isn’t generally afforded to rookie quarterbacks, much less undrafted quarterbacks. DeVito will be just the 10th undrafted quarterback since 2000 to start an NFL game.
“I literally told him [Thursday], it could be a hell of a story. Let’s make it a hell of a story,” Barkley said. “Undrafted guy from Jersey. Lives in Jersey with his parents; I didn’t know that part. Gets to be starting quarterback for the New York Football Giants.
“The perfect story.”