You can take Shaun O'Hara off the Giants, but you can't take the Giants out of Shaun O'Hara.
The three-time Pro Bowl center, who last played in 2010, officially announced his retirement today at the Timex Performance Center. O'Hara, who played 11 years in the NFL, including the final seven for the Giants, delivered an emotional speech in the Giants' field house that ended with "I will always feel like a Giant, and beat them Cowboys!"
The Giants, of course, host Dallas Wednesday night in the NFL Kickoff Game.
O'Hara has left the team, but not football. He is an analyst for NFL Network and will be on the air Thursday through Saturday. O'Hara said he will commute each week from his New Jersey home to the network's studio in Los Angeles.
O'Hara had a remarkable career. In 1995, he arrived at Rutgers University as a skinny walk-on tight end. He left as a team captain and All-Big East tackle. He made the Cleveland Browns' roster as an undrafted rookie in 2000 and caught a touchdown pass as a tackle-eligible in his second season. O'Hara joined the Giants in 2004 – the same year as Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning. He was one of the five captains on the 2007 team that won Super Bowl XLII and became one of the just three centers in Giants history to be selected to at least three Pro Bowls (joining Ray Wietecha and Bart Oates).
"Imagine this, "O'Hara said. "I managed to experience all that and never be arrested."
O'Hara was released by the Giants when the lockout ended last year. He soon worked out for the Miami Dolphins, but they decided not to sign him. "In Week 7, when they were 0-7, I was pretty happy," he said.
He conceded that he achieved a "childhood dream" and quipped that his retirement "kind of feels like watching your own funeral."
As these quotes indicate, O'Hara hasn't lost the affable and outgoing nature that made him a favorite of teammates and reporters during his career. At his retirement ceremony, he mentioned several people who were particularly meaningful to him. Among them were the precisely prompt miscue-averse Tom Coughlin ("My clocks will forever be five minutes fast and I know the importance of winning the turnover battle at home") and vice president of medical services Ronnie Barnes, who, prompted by a leg infection in 2004, sent O'Hara to the Hospital for Special Surgery – where O'Hara met a nurse named Amy, who became his wife.
"We were very proud to have Shaun O'Hara with us through the early years and the first Super Bowl," Coughlin said. "Of course, he's been not only an outstanding football player, but a great citizen for the New York Giants and he has the personality and he keeps them stirred up and he seems to really enjoy the comaraderie that exists - particularly with his offensive linemen, but also with his team. He's very bright. He always made all the calls. He's very tough. He's played through some things in his career that a normal athlete might not play with and we admire that greatly in him.
"We're so proud and happy that when the decision came for Shaun and he was in free agency that he came with the New York Giants and he certainly made the best of that and he's talking now about retiring as a New York Giant and I'm sure the Mara and the Tisch family couldn't be happier about that."