CHARACTER COUNTS

Justin Pugh had to leave unlikely friendship to sign with Cardinals

Mar 17, 2018, 6:08 PM

In leaving New York to join the Arizona Cardinals, offensive lineman Justin Pugh gave up more than just a team and a city.

He had to leave behind his neighbor, Bill.

The unlikely duo of an NFL player and a man 40 years older filmed a video with UNINTERRUPTED in November. In Pugh’s introductory press conference with the Cardinals, he said they filmed it to try to get Bill help in case Pugh left New York.

Bill, a widower with physical limitations, was in significant debt and living on social security.

He hadn’t paid rent in four months for the apartment he had lived in for 30 years. When he found out a member of the Giants lived next door, he wrote a letter.

Pugh responded.

“I guess it was kind of crazy, like this guy left a note on my back gate and then literally within an hour I was writing him a check to pay his rent,” Pugh said in the video. “I thought it was just a no-brainer.”

He recognized Bill, who often sat outside serving a neighborhood watch-type role. The two developed a close relationship.

“Right now I would probably be homeless if it wasn’t for him,” Bill said in the video.

He has returned the favor. When somebody stole items from Pugh’s front porch, Bill helped him track the thief down. He also began taking out Pugh’s trash each Sunday.

But with Pugh in Arizona, it’s unclear when they’ll see each other next.

“He’s never been on a plane, so I don’t know if I’m going to be able to convince him to come out here,” Pugh said Saturday.

Bill will remain a fan and a friend.

“I know he will be rocking all Cardinals gear,” Pugh said. “We might just have to do a satellite fan club out there in Jersey City.”

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