The captain retires and joins ESPN

The former heart and soul of the New York Giants defense has joined ESPN. Antonio Pierce officially announced his retirement after nine seasons and is joining ESPN to as a football analyst.

"After nine years of having the privilege of playing in the National Football League, today I've decided to end my playing days,” Pierce said. “I am blessed to have played with two great organizations, the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, and numerous outstanding players.”

The Super Bowl-winning middle linebacker will appear on NFL Live, SportsCenter, ESPNEWS, and 1050 ESPN New York. He also will provide weekly analysis here for Giants fans on ESPNNewYork.com, your home for New York sports news and information.

Pierce officially starts on NFL Live today at 4 p.m. ET with host Trey Wingo to discuss his retirement and his new role with ESPN.

“I am definitely going to miss the fans, the locker room talks, and the excitement of putting on a NFL uniform every Sunday, but I am ready to put on a new uniform, and I am extremely excited about contributing my knowledge and experience in this new endeavor to the championship team at ESPN,” Pierce said. “I thank my family, friends, teammates, and fans for their support throughout my career and as I move in this new and exciting direction."

Pierce suffered a season-ending neck injury last season and parted ways with the Giants during the offseason. The Giants are still in the process of finding a replacement and Jonathan Goff, Phillip Dillard, Gerris Wilkinson and Chase Blackburn are all candidates.

During his nine-year career, Pierce played 137 regular season games (and seven playoff games) with the Redskins (2001-04) and Giants (2005-09). Pierce was the Giants captain for five seasons and his helped lead the Giants to their Super Bowl upset over the Patriots in Super Bowl 42. Selected by the Redskins as an undrafted free agent in 2001, Pierce finished his career with 687 tackles, nine sacks and seven interceptions.