Giants' star defensive end Justin Tuck, who battled shoulder issues for much of the 2011 season, considered retiring and not coming back for the 2012 campaign. Tuck is the unquestioned leader of the defense, a captain who leads both off the field and on it with consistent production.
But that was significantly hampered last year, and Tuck talked about not being able to lift his shoulder before games, and the guilt he felt by potentially hurting his team with sub-standard play for the two-time Pro-Bowler. That led to some personal reflection and discussion with his closest colleagues, family, and friends. Tuck stated that retirement was contemplated, via Steve Serby of the New York Post:
"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."
Tuck also lost two family members, a grandfather and an uncle, during the season and was simply not himself. That confluence of factors pushed him to the point of considering giving up the game he loves at the age of 28.
As the Giants work through the 2012 preseason, those difficulties and retirement thoughts appear well behind Tuck. This will now be his eighth season in the NFL, all of them with the Giants.