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An Open Letter to Giants Fans
As many of you know, I am contemplating one of the biggest decisions of my football career, whether I should retire or continue playing. Like all athletes, I knew this day would come when I would have to stand before that proverbial fork in the road. But I must admit that it's not until you're actually staring at the two diverging paths do you really grasp how impactful and painful this decision can be. I was hoping to make this personal decision quietly and without much hoopla, but given the recent torrent of erroneous media reports and totally inaccurate assumptions, I feel that I have to come forward and publicly set the record straight with those for whom I have toiled the last fourteen years – you fans.
This off season has been one of the best in my professional career. I have worked extremely hard to make sure that I'm in shape and ready to tackle the rigors of another physical season. I am proud to say that at my age my body feels years younger and ready to compete at the highest level. I love training and preparation, and this off season has made it clear to me that this is one aspect of the game that I will miss tremendously when I decide to one day unstrap the helmet for the last time. I went into this off season with every intention of entering a 15th season with the Giants, the only team I've ever played for during my career. But I am human, and despite the images of me grimacing and tackling opposing quarterbacks and running backs, I have to face my mortality like anyone else. When an athlete like myself who does what I do for a living starts having doubts, then it's time to take a step back and seriously consider my future. Anyone who plays in the NFL with doubts or second guessing is not only putting themselves at risk, but their teammates also. I will never do that.
What's been most disappointing has been all of this nonsense that I'm holding out for more money. The truth is that football has been very good to me and I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by advisors who have ensured that my family and I will live comfortably for the rest of my life. You deserve to know what's really going on. My agent met with the Giants earlier in the year and discussed many things including my contract. Money is not the reason that I have not reported to training camp and it will not be a factor for my return. This has already been communicated to the Giants and while the reports may indicate a "hard line" taken by the team regarding money, it is not necessary, as this issue had been decided well before July.
Despite what some might believe there are those of us who make decisions that have nothing to do with money. Many athletes ask themselves daily if they are emotionally and psychologically at the level where they can compete at the highest level for twenty-four weeks. For them also it isn't about the money, rather a serious athlete asking serious questions about his future. All that I ask, after fourteen seasons, is that you afford me the patience so that I might arrive at my decision on my own terms.
As GM Jerry Reese has said, the Giants are not going to hold a spot for me. I completely understand his stance as football is a business and he must do what is in the best interest of the team. I know that I am only one player. I want to express my thanks to the owners and coaches for their extremely kind words about my career as a Giant to date. I have been proud to wear the Giant uniform throughout my professional career. You have my word that I will try to make the correct decision as quickly as possible. If I decide to play, I hope that you will continue to cheer me on like you have for all of these years. If I decide to hang up the cleats, then I will bid you all a tremendous thank you for the privilege to play a game that has blessed me in so many ways and created memories I will cherish for the rest of my life. I humbly thank you for your understanding and being the best fans in the world.
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