The struggles that plagued New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck in 2011 have been well documented. He suffered from a wide variety of injuries, from his neck to his groin, and also dealt with personal hardships that included the loss of both his Grandfather and Uncle. As a result, he strongly considered asking the team to place him on Injured Reserve (IR), which would have effectively ended his season, but was ultimately talked out of it.
Unbeknownst to many, that wasn't all Tuck was talked out of.
In a candid interview with Steve Serby of the New York Post on Tuesday, the Pro Bowl defensive end and defensive captain revealed that retirement was a very serious consideration a season ago, and he came close to hanging up his cleats at only 28 years of age.
“After the hardships of last year, I did some soul-searching, and really had to ask myself if this is what I want,” Tuck said. “Obviously, I’m back, and I just feel kind of refreshed mentally. I think a lot of things were weighing on me last year where I couldn’t necessarily be my normal self on and off the football field. I’ve kind of put those things in the past now and moved forward.”
The debate on whether or not to retire had gotten so serious that Tuck even approached head coach Tom Coughlin about it, and later discussed it with his wife, family and close personal friends. And although he wouldn't divulge the contents of those conversations, it shows just how close he came to walking away from the game.
Alas, Tuck did not retire, nor was he placed on IR, and ultimately helped lead Big Blue to their second Super Bowl championship in four years. It was rejuvenating, and all but eliminated any desire or consideration to retire.
"[I] just realized this is what I love to do, and I’m not ready to give it up regardless of the hardships,” Tuck said. “I think for a little while, like I said, I felt sorry for myself because of the fact that I’m sitting here saying like, ‘Why is all this happening to me?’ I don’t think I was thinking clearly. After winning the Super Bowl, getting away from football for a while allowed me just to think clearly.”
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