Rudolph signed a two-year, $12 million contract with the Giants back in March
Veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph is embarking on a new journey as he begins his 11th season in the NFL.
After spending his entire career with the Minnesota Vikings, Rudolph joins the New York Giants this season with hopes of helping restore the franchise to its former glory — and he sees promise in both the new faces in the locker room and a familiar leadership.
Rudolph, 31, spoke with Fox News in a phone interview on Wednesday about his upcoming season with the Giants and how he’s acclimated to Joe Judge’s “old school” style of coaching.
“It’s something that I’m very familiar with,” he said. “I played for coach Charlie Weis [Patriots offensive coordinator 2000-2004] at Notre Dame so I was introduced to the New England way of doing things as an 18-year-old kid. So I’ve been around it before. I’ve always had such respect and adoration for the success that that organization has had and certainly [Judge] played a big part in it.”
The two-time Pro Bowler told Fox News that his decision to come to New York was made simple by Judge’s reputation.
“I talked to a lot of the older guys on the team, the decision-makers in the locker room, they all bought in immediately … The culture that [Judge’s] built here is a big reason why I’m here,” he said. “At this point in my career, going into year 11, I had plenty of opportunities to go places where I knew I could win right away, knew that they had a chance to contend for a title and I picked here because of the culture and because of Joe and everything he’s built.”
Kyle Rudolph of the Minnesota Vikings in a 2013 file photo in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Rudolph said he sees a lot of similarities in Judge’s style of coaching and what he experienced in Minnesota under head coach Mike Zimmer.
“Coach Zimmer is a direct descendent of coach [Bill] Parcells and we all know coach Parcells and coach [Bill] Belichick and their connection.”
Parcells famously coached the Giants from 1983 to 1990, bringing the franchise two Super Bowl wins. He then moved on to the Patriots for three seasons where Belichick served as assistant head coach. The duo then joined the New York Jets eventually under the same roles. Zimmer was on the coaching staff of the Dallas Cowboys from 1994-2006 where he worked under Parcells for the latter years of his time there.
“They’re both old-school coaches,” Rudolph said, speaking of Judge and Zimmer. “They have an old-school mentality.”
“One of the things with coach Judge, he wants to build this the right way. He wants to build it to last.”
An important building block in Judge’s plan is quarterback Daniel Jones. Rudolph has weathered several changes at the quarterback position in Minnesota and in his opinion, Jones is “as good as they come.”
“Unfortunately, I have not been able to be out on the practice field with him yet but I have spent a lot of time with him around the facility and quite honestly, away from the facility. In my opinion, he’s as good as they come. He’s a phenomenal young man, super respectful. Obviously, I’ve seen his talent on the field.”
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) talks with head coach Joe Judge during NFL football practice in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Thursday, May 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
He continued: “I see it when I watch him practice. I see it when he’s one of the first guys in the building. I see it in his worth ethic … Oftentimes in our league, quarterbacks get way too much credit and they also get way too much blame. You have to surround a quarterback, especially a young quarterback, with pieces that can help him be successful. I think [the Giants] have done an unbelievable job in that this offseason and I know that Daniel is going to take care of the rest.”
Rudolph also plays a crucial role in Judge’s plan. Despite joining a stacked tight end room, Rudolph stands out in being able to successfully fulfill the duality of his position. He is currently tied with Travis Kelce for third among active tight ends with 48 career touchdowns, trailing only Rob Gronkowski (86) and Jimmy Graham (82).
“I’ve never had more than five, maybe six, in a training camp so having eight guys in the tight end room is different. It’s unique. But then I look around the tight end room and each and every guy in that room brings something to the table that can help our team win football games.”
Dwight Lowery on August 28, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Rudolph’s talent and experience made him a big target for teams in the offseason but he reiterated his desire to come to New York to play under Judge.
“I want to be a part of that. I want to be a reason why the Giants get back to the playoffs for the first time in a few years and the second part of that is just the history and tradition of this organization,” he said.
“Every day that you walk into the building you see four Lombardi trophies right there. They’re right in front of you and that’s the goal. That’s what this organization is used to and that’s what they want to get back to and that’s something that I wanted to be a part of.”
Rudolph also comes to New York with the hopes of making an impact off the field. He was recently appointed to the board of directors for GENYOUth, a national non-profit which builds healthier school communities, and he hopes to carry on the work he did in Minnesota in the tri-state.
“Everything my wife Jordan and I’ve done in our time in the Twin Cities over the last 10 years revolves around kids and empowering kids … making sure that no matter what their circumstances are, they have a right to be a kid and to enjoy being a kid.”
“One of the things that was so exciting for us as we transitioned to the New York/ New Jersey area was the opportunity that we have to make an impact on another community.”
Rudolph signed a two-year, $12 million contract with the Giants back in March. He’s totaled 453 career receptions for 4,448 yards and 48 touchdowns.
Paulina Dedaj is a Sports Reporter for Fox News and FOX Business. Follow her on Twitter @PaulinaDedaj.