While he wishes it was his team playing in Super Bowl 54 in Miami, it hasn’t stopped New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley from analyzing the game. The second-year pro has established himself as one of the most exciting—and strongest—players in football, and he sees some trends to keep an eye on as the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs head into the big game.
As a running back, Barkley knows how important it is to have a consistent rushing attack, which is something the 49ers have in strong supply. That was proven in the NFC Championship game when running back Raheem Mostert rushed for 220 yards and four touchdowns. Barkley thinks that attention to the running game could be key for the Niners against the Chiefs.
“I noticed some people out there think the Chiefs will blow the 49ers out and I’m a little shocked at that,” Barkley tells Men’s Journal. “In the NFL, you need to run the ball and play good defense, and the Niners have that. I might be a little biased as a running back, but the top four rushing teams in the NFL made the playoffs, and the top four passing teams didn’t make it. Sure, the NFL is a passing league now, but the Niners have that winning formula. It’s hard to go against [Chiefs QB] Pat Mahomes, but I think the 49ers will win—although if anyone can beat them, it’s Mahomes.”
While the Giants didn’t play the Chiefs or 49ers this past season, Barkley kept up with the teams and news around the NFL by listening to podcasts. Barkley recently teamed up with Spotify to feature his podcast playlist on the service, including some of his favorites like Around the NFL, The Pat McAfee Show, and Pardon My Take, as well as the TRAINED podcast with trainer Ryan Flaherty.
Barkley spoke with Men’s Journal about his favorite podcasts, what it was like to play with Eli Manning, and how he’s training this offseason.
Men’s Journal: What are you focusing on in your training this offseason?
Saquon Barkley: For me, what worked last year was last year, and now I’m trying to find ways to improve and expand what I do. It’s never just one thing for me—I could say I want to focus on speed or power, but at the end of the day I work on all of it. I try and find ways to improve my game and improve myself as a person. How can I become a better running back? Whether that’s working in the gym or working on watching film. I want to be a better me and a better player every year. I still stick with my foundational workouts—I love squats, deadlifts, and all those exercises that help me power through big defenders, but I also am planning to add some more cardio, speed workouts, and that type of work in my routine.
How have podcasts made their way into your daily routine?
I’ve always been a big music guy, but I’ve really gotten into podcasts lately. I travel a lot in general, so I listen a lot on planes, and on regular work days I have a 30-minute ride every morning to the facility, so I listen to a lot of podcasts there. I’ve found a new interest in those, and there are great ones out there for Spotify listeners and for athletes like myself. Especially in the world of sports. You can learn a lot from the podcasts and stay up to date with everything going on in the news and sports world. I’m a big fan of Spotify and I’m honored and happy to be able to partner with them on all this. They’re is taking podcasts to another level and it’s cool that everyday people can connect with podcasts, whether it’s politics, sports, life lessons and more, there’s something for everyone out there.
What are some of your favorite podcasts out there?
I like a lot of sports news podcasts on Spotify, and I like Pardon My Take, Around the NFL, the Pat McAfee Show—he’s hilarious and I like that he was a special teams player. He’s not your usual ex-athlete and he brings a great perspective. I also really like the TRAINED podcast from Nike with trainer Ryan Flaherty. The Joe Rogan Show is also really good, those interviews can go to interesting places. There are a lot of playlists and podcasts that I like. I really like Ryan Flaherty’s; I’ve trained with him and he’s one of my favorites. I may be a bit biased because I’ve trained with him and been on his podcast [laughs]. But he’s so interesting in the way he talks about mental and physical health. He’s trained so many great athletes, like Serena Williams and so on. Hopefully one day I can add myself to that list of the greats he’s trained.
What was it like playing alongside Eli Manning, who just retired after 16 seasons in the league?
It was amazing to have been able to play with him. People ask me what my ‘Welcome to the NFL’ moment was, and usually they think it would be a play on the field, but for me, it was when I walked into the Giants locker room and I’m Eli Manning’s teammate. That was my moment. It was an honor to be his teammate, I learned a lot from him, and he’s a future Hall of Famer to me. It’s sad to see him retire, but he did so much for this team and this city. Hate to see him leave, but now it’s our time, the young guys like myself, Daniel Jones, Sterling Shepard to take what we learned from him and try to bring the championship back to New York.
If you could co-host your own podcast with someone, who would it be and why?
That’s an easy one for me: my Giants teammate Sterling Shepard. Sterling is one of my best friends, we’ve gotten very close over the last two years. But he’s also one of the funniest people I know. It’s him and my buddy Mark Allen from Penn State. With Shep, it’s his energy and you can feel it, whether it’s on the football field or sitting at home hanging out and drinking wine playing a card game and messing around. The way we argue and fight like brothers would be really funny for people. He would be the one I’d want to co-host with, that would be awesome.
Check out Barkley’s podcast playlist from Spotify here:
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