Diehl might retire, won't play elsewhere

December, 29, 2013
12/29/13
7:15
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants' victory against the Washington Redskins on Sunday was meaningless to many -- but definitely not to David Diehl.

This might have been Diehl's last game as a Giant, and he wanted to go out a winner.

"To come away from this game with a win, walk out victorious, be out here with my teammates, that’s what it’s all about," Diehl said.

[+] EnlargeKevin Boothe
AP Photo/Paul JasienskiThe Giants are expected to revamp their veteran offensive line next season.
The 33-year-old free agent said he will ponder his future over the next couple of weeks. "I’ll make the decision if this is my last game or not," Diehl said. "But I can walk away from this game, if that’s my decision, with my head held high."

And he won't play for any other team. "I had that opportunity last year and I turned it down. I love being a New York Giant, I bleed blue," Diehl said. "I can’t see myself wearing another uniform. I’m a Giant through and through."

The Giants might make Diehl's decision for him, because the offensive line figures to get a major overhaul after a terrible 2013. The team entered Week 17 ranked second-to-last in the NFL in rushing (80.7 yards per game), and had given up 39 sacks, nearly twice as many as last season (20).

They didn't distinguish themselves in the season finale, either. The Giants rushed for 122 yards, but needed 35 carries to do so (3.5 yards per carry). And Eli Manning was knocked out of the game shortly after taking a hard hit from Redskins defensive end Chris Baker.

"I think many people want us to say that we played terribly, and we're the reason why we're 7-9, but obviously a lot goes into things," said fellow offensive lineman Kevin Boothe. [But] did we play to the level we expected to? Of course not."

"It will be an objective, for sure," said head coach Tom Coughlin, when asked about improving the offensive line.

To be fair, injuries played a major role in the offensive line's lack of success. Right guard Chris Snee and center David Baas played in just three games apiece before being placed on injured reserve. Backup center Jim Cordle suffered a season-ending injury as well.

Left tackle Will Beatty underperformed all season long, and then fractured his leg on a gruesome play against the Redskins. James Brewer also left Sunday's game with an injury, meaning the Giants were literally down to their last offensive linemen.

Diehl
"It’s definitely been the craziest situation here while I’ve been here," Diehl said. "But it’s part of football. It just goes to show each and every year, you never know how things are gonna pan out."

Just how serious Beatty's injury is has yet to be determined. Snee could retire after having surgery on both hips the past two years. And Baas, who's been a disappointment since signing with Giants in 2011, could be a salary-cap casualty.

The only given on the offensive line going into next season is Justin Pugh, who started all 16 games in his rookie year.

Diehl's versatility is valuable -- he started at both right tackle and right guard this season, and has played every position but center during his 11 years with the Giants. And he can play through pain -- he revealed after the game that he needs thumb surgery, for the second time this year. But Diehl clearly is not the player he once was -- 164 NFL games will take a toll on you.

Diehl knew the exact number of games he had played in when speaking with reporters after the game -- perhaps a hint that he sees the finish line.

"I’ve accomplished everything I could possibly dream of as a football player," Diehl said. "If in 2003 any of you guys would have wrote that Dave Diehl, a fifth-round draft pick out of Illinois, would start 160 games, play in 164 and tie Phil Simms for No. 12 on the all-time playing list for the New York Giants, win two Super Bowls, be an All-Pro, play in the Pro Bowl and win two Super Bowl rings, and win every single Giant award possible -- I think if you guys would have wrote that in ’03, people would have said you’re crazy."

"I’ve got a lot to be proud of," Diehl added. And he's right.
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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