Justin Tuck announced his retirement on Friday, ending the career of the defensive end that played a vital part in two Super Bowl victories for the Giants.
Tuck recorded two sacks and a forced fumble in Super Bowl XLII against the Patriots, and then tormented Tom Brady with two more sacks in Super Bowl XLVI. The Pro Bowler spoke about the tightness of those championship teams. “I had the opportunity to do an interview a couple of days ago with Bob Papa and we had a conversation about looking at the championship banners and we made a friendly bet and then he said, ‘I bet you can’t name all of the players that played in Super Bowl 46 and 42.’ I one-upped him and I said, ‘Not only can I name them, I can name the colleges that they went to’ and I did. That just lets you know the bond is strong.”
It didn’t always look like it would work out this well for Tuck. Coming out of Notre Dame, Tuck fell to the third round in the 2005 draft before being selected by the Giants. And there wasn’t a lot of playing time to be had for a defensive end on a team that featured Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora. Sitting in his locker room on his first day of minicamp was not the joyous experience that fans may think.
“You’re walking around and you’re seeing the great names in the locker room with LT an you look over in the corner and you’ve got Michael Strahan and here’s this pup from Kellyton, Alabama and they gave me number 91,” Tuck said. “I’m sitting at my locker and I’m pissed. Coach Merritt looks at me and he’s like, ‘Did somebody die in your family? What’s wrong with you?’ What I told him and I’ve held that chip on my shoulder since that day and I told him there were 70 something odd people drafted before me that shouldn’t have been. I believed it. Until this day, I’ve used that as a crutch. I’vve used that as a chip.”
That motivation helped during his nine seasons as a Giant, which included a Pro Bowl appearance in 2008 and being a Second Team All-Pro in 2010. Tuck had 60.5 sacks and 20 forced fumbles while playing in New York.
He played all nine seasons in New York under Tom Coughlin before ending his playing days in Oakland. Tuck thanked the Raiders but acknowledged that it was nice to retire as a Giant. Tuck also had a message for the new head coach. “A lot of the young guys look at coaches and are saying no way they want them to be their best friend,” Tuck said. “Coach McAdoo, don’t be a players best friend. The one thing I learned from Coach Coughlin is this. I’m going to push you and I’m going to push you. I don’t care if you don’t like it. But the one thing that he demanded and he definitely got because he deserved it was the respect of his players. I’m not surprising anybody by saying this. We didn’t like Coach Coughlin but you better not say anything bad about him. Not in my presence. That goes for all the rest of our coaches.”