Sterling Shepard will be on the sidelines for the Giants in the role of cheerleader Sunday, and not just for his teammates.
As someone who played for the last Giants team to make the playoffs — and who remembers the late-season energy at MetLife Stadium — the injured wide receiver is begging the home crowd to be heard again.
“2016 rocked it, that’s what we need from the fans,” Shepard said Friday. “There is no sitting. I get tired of seeing people sit down on third downs. Defense needs you to be loud. I expect it to be. It should be so. Stand up Third Downs, we need these guys to get loud. This is not a social event.”
The Giants made the playoffs for the first time in six seasons with a win over the Colts. The Giants have not earned a playoff spot on their home turf since the 2011 season, when they defeated the Cowboys in the regular-season finals.
Shepard, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in September and underwent season-ending surgery, said it was bittersweet to see the Giants get to that point.
“I want to be out there,” he said. “It’s the game I love and the kind of football you want to play in [January]. It’s been a while since I’ve played meaningful football since 2016 so that’s always been what I wanted to do.
“It’s tough but you just have to change your mindset and I want to help these guys in any way I can. Anything I can do to help them on Sundays, that’s why I’m here every day just for them to bounce ideas off me, whether it’s questions about what to do on the field, you never know .”
But Shepard, the longest-serving Giants player, said he didn’t have anything inspirational to say to his teammates.
“I really don’t have to say much — just cheering up the guys and keeping everyone’s energy up,” Shepard said. “I think that’s all I can really do on the side, but as far as they know it’s meaningful football, everyone knows that now.”