Giants defensive end Kerry Wynn is fighting to make an impact with the team, but there’s another fight away from the gridiron that hits close to home for the 26-year-old and many others.
A Virginia native, Wynn played for the University of Richmond and attended Louisa County High School — located 36.3 miles away from Charlottesville, the city where three died and dozens were injured during a violent white nationalist rally on Saturday.
“It’s just sad,” a soft-spoken Wynn said after Sunday’s practice. “That people can act with that level of hatred simply because of race. It’s just ignorance.”
Wynn added he’s heard of similar rallies in his home state before, but never of this magnitude or this violent.
The tragic event resonated with others on the team as well.
Linebacker Devon Kennard tweeted Saturday afternoon: “Can’t believe what I’m seeing in Charlottesville right now…so many things have changed but some things stay the same.”
With much division in the country on race and politics, more athletes have used their platform to speak out on these issues.
While Wynn did not want to dive too deep into a political discussion, he acknowledged athletes can help by setting good examples and pointed to the Giants as an organization he feels has done just that.
“Everybody on this team comes from different backgrounds and groups. We all work together,” Wynn said. “Since I’ve been here for four years I’ve never seen any type of racial or anything discriminatory on this team and that’s how it should be.
“I’m not going to get into a whole political thing … but there’s this quote, bring love to the people that anger you. I forget who said the quote but … only light can shine out the darkness.”
Meanwhile, Wynn’s focus remains on the football field.
The four-year veteran and undrafted free agent impressed in the Giants’ preseason game against the Steelers, finishing with two tackles — including a sack for a five-yard loss.
The 6-foot-5, 264-pound defensive end says his approach has been the same every year: to play with a chip on his shoulder.
“I’m an undrafted guy until my days in the league are done,” he said. “So I come in every day trying to prove something, trying to get opportunities to be better.”
Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon will get the majority of snaps at defensive end throughout the season, but having depth at the position could make a vaunted Giants defense even better.
Wynn played in 37% of the defensive snaps in Friday’s preseason loss to the Steelers as he, Romeo Okwara and Devin Taylor (who had an interception in the game) try to prove they can be dependable when rotating in for one of their All-Pro starters.
“I want to make sure when I go in there’s not a drop off,” Wynn said. “Obviously, these guys are great athletes, they do a lot of great things out there and I want to make sure when I go in I’m doing my job.”
Head coach Ben McAdoo certainly had plenty of good things to say about the veteran.
“Kerry Wynn is a valuable player,” McAdoo said. “He’s been around. He can play inside, he can play outside. He can play on mixed downs, first, second, third down. He can play on special teams. Smart football player.”
Though, no matter the amount of praise or success Wynn finds, he’ll always be the undrafted guy on the field.
“I can’t take that chip off my shoulder,” he said. “That’s just the way it is.”