Big Blue opened rookie minicamp on Friday, but it was former defensive end Justin Tuck who stole the show as he announced his official retirement from the NFL after signing a 1-day contract with the New York Giants. Tuck, 33, had to fight back tears on what was clearly an emotional and monumental day in his life. With the press room packed with family, friends, ex-teammates, media, coaches and front office personnel, Tuck set the record straight on his "retirement."
"You all use the word ‘retirement,’ but I’ve been busier now than I have been when I was playing," stated Tuck. "I’m not going to use the word ‘retirement’. I’m going to say I’m transitioning, but what a hell of a place to transition from,"
Tuck plans after football include enrolling in the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School Business School to earn his MBA. The two-time champion has clear aspirations to start a new career path in the business world.
"I think for me personally, I knew I wanted to --- and everything I do I want to be prepared," noted Tuck, "I want to be really prepared and a lot of things that I have come in contact with this being in New York in the finance space, I guess, points me to that direction of getting my MBA and if I am going to get it, I am going to go and try to do it at the best university there is and I don’t know if you checked, but Wharton is number one, so that is why. That almost gives me another chance to take a shot at Boston College, Mr. Mara, but I am not going to do it. I am not going to do it. I might."
Giants co-owner John Mara, a Boston College alumnus, cracked a smile when Tuck took a friendly jab at him.
Tuck's two children were on-hand and the Notre Dame graduate stressed the importance of education and his involvement in the Rush for Literacy program for future generations.
"The United States is 26th in education," deadpanned Tuck. "Me and my wife are very passionate about kids and education and we knew that was something that we could not only get behind and write a check to but go visit schools and have conversations with parents and teachers about. What is the missing link? How can we make this better? We knew education was super important to us. You know, unlike going to Boston College, we went to Notre Dame, so we actually got one and we have seen the benefits of it, so yeah. I am so glad I am going to get the last say (today). (BC Alum) Mr. Mara isn’t speaking out against me, right? Okay, good."
While Tuck has all the credentials and stats to gain consideration for the Hall of Fame, he admits the most important aspect of his career was the deep bonds he formed with teammates and coaches.
"When I got drafted here all I thought about was sacking quarterbacks and being a guy that they could look at and say he did it the right way," noted Tuck. "That’s the only legacy I ever cared about and to this day, that’s the only thing I ever care about. So to see what some of my former teammates said about me… I couldn’t care less about Super Bowl rings and I couldn’t care less about quarterback sacks or any of that stuff. When guys talk to you about your character and talk to you about friendship and they talk to you about the memories in the locker room or on the road trips – that’s what I’ll remember. To my dying day, that’s what I will remember."
Before bidding his adieu, Tuck even took a moment to thank his critics in media.
"I love you guys, man," said Tuck. "To the media, I love you guys. I know a lot of times it didn’t sound like that and you might not have gotten that vibe, but you all gave me a huge platform as well to get my story out there. Pat Hanlon probably likes me saying that. Thank you. I can’t say that enough."
Tuck even included a special gift for credentialed media members to enjoy.
Before he bid his final farewell, Tuck responded to a question about what he wanted his legacy to be. While the two Super Bowls he help deliver will be at the forefront of most people's minds, the former Giants wanted to be remembered most of all for his work ethic and humility.
"That is not for me to answer," said Tuck about his legacy. "I know what I want it to be and I mentioned it. The only legacy that I care about is people, years from now, saying that he did it the right way. I never really cared about stats or anything of that nature. I think that the legacy of a lot of the guys here is cemented in the fact that we won two Super Bowls and that is the first thing that people are going to say, but we got some great guys in that locker room, on and off the field, and that is the only thing I can ask for. It is more important for me to see a kid smiling because he got an A on his report card than it is for me to do any of the other stuff, so I hope that is something that they will say."