Tuck talks about his 'epiphany'

January, 18, 2012
1/18/12
6:59
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Justin Tuck's season has been mired by injuries but he has a chance to end it on a healthy and winning note.

Tuck is two wins away from his second Super Bowl ring, and that certainly would help ease all the pain he has felt this season. Tuck has learned to try to block out pain and distractions.

"It's been one of those years where ... when you seem like you have it right and your body is starting to feel good, something else happens," he said. "When that happens, obviously there are going to be people questioning you about where your heart is and things like that. My teammates know where my heart is, my coaches know where my heart is.

"I just came to the realization that I'm not going to be healthy this year, I'm not going to put up the stats that I've put up. But that doesn’t mean that I can't help this football team win games. At the end of the day, that's the end goal. That's what I mean about blocking all the other stuff out."

Tuck says he also has learned a bit about leadership this season. He prefers leading by example, but has said it is hard to do that when he is hurt. Tuck -- who has battled through groin, neck, toe and shoulder injuries -- had five sacks, but two came in his last two games of the regular season.

"This year has been tough for me in that regard, as far as leadership, but there are growing things for me, too," Tuck said. "Learning how to still get your point across without doing it on the football field, which I previously liked to do.

"But the one thing that I learned this year is the guys respect what you've done. A lot of times I wouldn't say anything and guys came up to me and said, 'Why are you so quiet' or 'Why do you do this or do that.' They were like, 'You know what? You don't have to worry about that. We know you’re not 100 percent, we know that doesn't stop you from being a leader.'

"I guess I got that OK from other players to still be the vocal leader and still be showing leadership even though I wasn't doing it on the football field at times."

Tuck said that meant a great deal to him to hear that from his teammates.

"That went a long way for kind of getting me mentally on track, I guess," Tuck said. "I guess that would have been the epiphany of my year. At the end of the day, I think it was a lot of things. Coach [Tom] Coughlin's conversation, I've had conversations with several players. Being home by myself looking in the mirror. There have been a lot of things that have, I guess, pushed me to just say, 'You know what, just go play football and whatever happens, happens.'"
Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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