‘Nick Gates vs. The World’: Giants fans rallying behind offensive lineman in cool way after he suffered brutal injury in Week 2

Offensive linemen rarely become fan favorites, especially in a league where quarterbacks and skill players are popularity kings. But offensive lineman Nick Gates managed to breakthrough with the Giants fan base since becoming a starter last year.

It did that through his toughness and easy-going personality. He’s known for his long, brown hair and propensity for practicing with his belly hanging out of his jersey. But he captivated Giants fans last year when he got in a shoving match with menacing Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, and didn’t back down even as Donald grabbed his face-mask.

Gates’ journey — he worked his way from being an undrafted rookie that missed the entire 2018 season to a starter at center in 2020, a position he’d never played before — didn’t hurt either.

In the offseason, Gates went on Talkin’ Giants, a popular Giants podcast, and later tweeted their signature slogan. So it should come as no surprise that the Giants fan base rallied behind Gates after he suffered a likely season-ending injury on Thursday night.

On Friday, Bobby Skinner and Justin Penik — the Talkin’ Giants co-hosts — instructed their listeners to tweet out “Nick Gates vs. The World”. Enough people listened — and others followed suit — and the phrase was trending on Twitter by Friday night.

“What drew us to Nick was his nastiness, willingness to fight, versatility, story and ultimately being a good NFL offensive lineman,” Skinner said.

Thursday night, Gates suffered a gruesome injury against Washington that had pretty much everyone at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. silent. The entire Giants roster surrounded him before he was carted off the field. He was transported to a hospital, where he remains for the time being after Friday morning surgery on what was described as a “lower leg fracture”.

After the game — which the Giants lost in heartbreaking fashion — Gates’ agent Jonathan Perzley posted on Instagram that Gates “laughed on the phone and said ‘I snapped that s--t in half’” and Perzley added that “it would take a lot more than a broken bone to stop that man.”

Gates then posted to Instagram too, a photo of himself waving to the crowd as he was carted off the field on Thursday, with the message: “Thanks for all the prayers Giant nation! Going to be a (heck) of a comeback!”

His teammates expressed their support after Thursday night’s game too.

“He is a guy that works his tail off every day and someone everyone looks to, to be a leader,” quarterback Daniel Jones said. “It hurts to see him go down like that. I’m certainly praying for him and wishing for the best.”

Saquon Barkley called Gates a “fighter”.

Giants coach Joe Judge said he “can’t say enough about Nick in terms of what he does for the team, how he works, the energy and spirit he brings on a daily basis. He’s an all-in team guy, he’s a very selfless player. He’s been a great leader for this team ... It’s always: ‘Whatever’s best for the team, coach, that’s what I’m gonna do.;”

Buy Giants tickets: StubHub, TicketSmarter

Gates is known for his easy-going, fun-loving personality. He has long, brown hair he’ll shake in the wind for comedic effect. He likes to practice with his belly hanging out, and is willing to crack jokes at press conferences.

Before the season, Gates was voted team captain for the first time.

“I mean, right now I’m getting the chills,” Gates said after being named captain. “It’s an honor just to be a captain, especially for this great organization the Giants have. Just the people that have come before me that are captains, just to be able to be a part of that legacy, it’s awesome.”

But now the Giants have to charge forward in 2021 without him. In his place — and with guard Shane Lemieux out too — they’ll likely start two new players at left guard (Ben Bredeson) and center (Billy Price).

Gates is under contract through next season, and he’ll push to rehab and recover in time to play next season in a Giants uniform.

Until then, it’ll just be Nick Gates vs. The World.

Please subscribe now and support the local journalism YOU rely on and trust.

Zack Rosenblatt may be reached at [email protected].