EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** David Diehl was asked today how many years of football he thinks he has left.
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What happens after that game is a mystery. Diehl, finishing his 11th year with the Giants, will become a free agent after the season finale Sunday against the Washington Redskins. The team hasn't commented on its plans for Diehl, or any other soon-to-be free agent. So Diehl will do what he's done 163 times, prepare to play a regular-season like it could be his last.
The fact that this really could be the final one will not influence his thinking or work habits.
"I'm not thinking about long-term now (because) it isn't going to help me on Sunday," Diehl said. "What I'm doing is focusing on this one game, focusing on making sure that I'm healing myself up, getting ready to go and getting ready to go out there and play like I always do. We play for one another, we play for our team, we play for this organization, we play for the New York and New Jersey area. It means a lot to be a Giant and I think each and every one of us feels that way and we want to close it that way."
Diehl is particularly eager to play against Washington, because he missed the Giants' victory last week over the Lions after hurting his knee in the previous game vs. Seattle. He traveled to Detroit, but was inactive for the game. Diehl was limited in practice.
"I did some stuff today," said Diehl, who had started 10 consecutive games at right guard before sitting out last Sunday, just the 12th game he has missed in his 11 years. "I still was limited, so I'm just working back into it. Hopefully, I'll be good to go for Sunday. But it's getting better each and every day. I'm going out there and practicing and doing more, so hopefully I'll be able to go and roll and be full status. If I'm not, I'm going to play anyway."
If he does, Diehl said he won't take a moment to look around MetLife Stadium and soak everything in because it could be his last game in a Giants uniform.
"No, because that isn't going to help me play football on Sunday, is it?" Diehl said. "I'm focusing on this one game and we'll see what happens after. But like I said, I'm approaching it just like I do any week and any season. You want to finish out the right way and all of us want to finish out the right way, winning and having that feeling. Not only us, but going into the new year with a feeling that this team still has a lot of fight in it, which we do, and show how much pride we have in this organization."
Diehl's goals have always been team-oriented. A victory over Washington would enable the Giants to close their season with two straight victories and a 7-9 record – which to them is infinitely superior to a 6-10 mark.
"It's unfortunate that we're not playing to see if we can make the playoffs or any of that stuff," Diehl said. "But we go in there and we take care of business. We've won seven of our last 10 games (if they win) and that's something to be proud of. We all want to be playing in the Super Bowl in our stadium, but the only thing you can do now is finish it the way that we know we're capable of and go into this offseason on a high note and, most importantly, showing everybody what this team is all about one last time - not only our fans but showing our organization and showing our pride as a team. That means a lot to all of us. We all know that it means a great deal to be a Giant and to go out there and represent this organization. We have to do it the right way."
Diehl will certainly do that, as he always has.
Defensive end Justin Tuck also has an expiring contract. So what will he be feeling as he walks off the field Sunday afternoon?
"Hopefully, jubilation of a win," said Tuck, who leads the team with 9.0 sacks. "After that it's on to the next stage and finding out where I will be employed next season. Even when that clock hits 0:00, it isn't definite that I'm going to be here or definite that I'm not going to be here. I don't know, so I don't know what the feeling's going to be. First and foremost, I hope it's happy because we got a win.
"I've got enough memories to soak in anyway. Sure, I'll be a little teary-eyed after I walk off the field - maybe. I doubt it, but maybe. I think that makes a better story if I say teary-eyed."