Tuck: 'I feel more alive, in a football sense'

June, 24, 2013
6/24/13
6:59
PM ET
HUNTINGTON, N.Y. –- A month before training camp starts, Justin Tuck looks and feels like he's in terrific shape.

He has been training and eating right, and the New York Giants defensive end even walked over hot coals to improve his state of mind.

"For whatever reason it is, I feel more alive in a football sense than I have in a long time," Tuck said at an appearance at the Big Daddy Celebrity Golf Classic at Oheka Castle. "And that is a huge motivation for me this year.

[+] EnlargeJustin Tuck
Debby Wong/USA TODAY SportsJustin Tuck is entering the final year of his contract, but vows not to focus on that. "The thing I can't control is the contract," he said.
"I don't know if it is last year, or people saying a lot of things around this team and myself," Tuck added. "I don't know what it is. But I am in a good state right now."

Tuck knows full well he is entering the final year of his contract. But he says he doesn't want to think about a new deal. Where his mind is at right now is currently "in a great place."

"Football is a draining sport sometimes," Tuck said. "And being in New York City and trying to do as much as I do off the football field, it kind of drains you a little bit and you start to [take] things for granted. Maybe I did. Not on purpose. You just don't even know it until somebody taps you on your shoulder and is like, 'What are you doing?'

"So, my focus is football," Tuck added. "Family and football. That's it. You won't see me out as much [doing appearances] as I have been in previous years. I have kind of dedicated myself to doing a lot of that this offseason so when football comes in, that is where I am at."

Tuck, 30, is motivated to lead the Giants back to the Super Bowl -- which will be held at MetLife Stadium. In order for that to happen, he'll likely have to be the Tuck of old, with Jason Pierre-Paul recovering from back surgery and Osi Umenyiora gone to Atlanta.

After collecting 11.5 sacks and six forced fumbles in 2010, Tuck has been limited to a total of nine sacks in the past two regular seasons. In 2011, Tuck battled through neck, shoulder, groin, ankle and toe injuries, and also dealt with the loss of his grandfather and two uncles.

Tuck is feeling better these days, body and mind. He and his wife just celebrated the birth of their second son, on Father's Day.

And he's motivated to return to his old Pro Bowl form, but not because it is a contract year.

"I am not going to allow this whole circumstance to put pressure on me to perform," he said of his contract year. "I put enough pressure on myself to perform. I am not even thinking about contractwise. I don't care if I come out in the first three games [and] I have 10 sacks. ... I don't want to hear about contract at all. That is not my focus.

"I am worried about getting this football team to another Super Bowl and winning it," Tuck added. "If that happens, then all the rest will take care of itself."

Tuck has seen how Umenyiora and Victor Cruz have had to deal with their own contracts.

"I understand that me concentrating on a contract takes my mind, a lot of my concentration, off what it should be on," Tuck said. "The thing I can't control is the contract.

"I've seen players have great years and end up not being there next year," Tuck added. "I can control how I go out on the football field and play. The only way I can control the contract stuff is if my name is Mara and Tisch."
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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