EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Osi Umenyiora, who played for two Super Bowl champions and in two Pro Bowls and was one of the best pass-rushing defensive ends of his generation, today announced his retirement after spending 10 of his 12 NFL seasons with the Giants.
A second-round draft choice in 2003, Umenyiora played with the Giants through the 2012 season before concluding his career by playing two years for the Atlanta Falcons.
"Osi was certainly one of the premier defensive ends in the game and a key part of our two Super Bowl teams," said John Mara, the Giants' president and chief executive officer. "But he was much more than that. Osi had so much pride and always gave 100 percent. He represented himself and our team on and off the field like a true professional and was a great example to his teammates."
"Osi is and has always been a great Giant," said Steve Tisch, the Giants' chairman and executive vice president. "I will remember him as much for his great smile and engaging personality as I will for his ability to rush the passer. His love for the game is obvious to anyone who watched him perform."
Umenyiora had 75.0 of his 85.0 career sacks with the Giants, which places him fourth on the franchise's official list. Hall of Famers Michael Strahan (141.5) and Lawrence Taylor (132.5) and Leonard Marshall (79.5) are the only players with more sacks in a Giants uniform since 1982, when sacks became an official statistic.
In 10 postseason games, Umenyiora had 5.5 sacks, tying him with Justin Tuck for fourth on that franchise list.
"Osi was an explosive, smart, crafty edge rusher who was a scary matchup for any offensive tackle in this league in his prime," general manager Jerry Reese said.
"He had all the moves and played the game right, and he was a great student of the game."
Umenyiora played on the Giants teams that won Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. He was the only member of the 2007 world champions to play in the Pro Bowl.
That season, the Giants had an NFL-high 53 sacks, thanks largely to their three outstanding defensive ends. Umenyiora led the way with 13.0. Tuck, another two-time Pro Bowler, had 10.0, and Michael Strahan, now a Pro Football Hall of Famer, had 9.0 in his final season.
"Osi was a huge, huge part of those teams," coach Tom Coughlin said. "That's the connecting link with all the guys. When they go away and then call back and talk, I express how much they mean to me as individuals, and I have to Osi. And he will respond in the same way about his time here and what great memories he has and how fond his thoughts are of winning Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. In my mind, when I think of 42, I see 92, 72, 91 (the ends' jersey numbers) walking away with (New England quarterback Tom) Brady laying on the ground. I'll never forget that picture. That's a beauty."
Umenyiora's 75.0 sacks during his 10 seasons with the Giants put him in a tie for ninth in the NFL during that span. His 85.0 sacks during his 12-year career were tied for 11th in the league in those dozen seasons.
But Umenyiora actually played just nine seasons for the Giants and 11 in the NFL, because he did not play a game in 2008 after undergoing knee surgery.
On Sept. 23, 2007, Umenyiora set the Giants' single-game franchise record with 6.0 sacks of Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb in MetLife Stadium. The old mark was 4.5 sacks by linebacker Pepper Johnson at Tampa Bay on Nov. 24, 1991.
Against the Eagles on his record-breaking night, Umenyiora was matched up with second-year tackle Winston Justice, who filled in for Pro Bowler Tra Thomas.
"Strahan broke the Giants' (career) sack record that night, and nobody really remembers that, which lets you know how impressive Osi was that night," Tuck said. "He got a great matchup against Winston Justice and went to work. I think all of us were in awe of what he was doing that night. Kiwi (Mathias Kiwanuka) had three sacks that night, I think I had two. But nobody really cared, because Osi was doing something that night that you rarely get to see from a defensive end."
"Osi was ready to go and as the thing snowballed, he just kept getting more energized and more successful in his charges," Coughlin said.
"We were all trying to say, 'Osi, let us get over there and rush this dude,'" Strahan said. "He was greedy, he wouldn't share that time."
From 2004-10, Umenyiora was the Giants' sole or shared leader in sacks in all six seasons in which he played (not including 2008). He was the team sack leader in four consecutive seasons with 7.0 in 2004, a career-high 14.5 in 2005, 6.0 in 2006 and 13.0 in 2007, and again with 7.0 in 2009. He tied Tuck for the team lead in 2010 with 11.5.
Umenyiora was the first Giants player to top the team in sacks four years in a row since Taylor led the team in five consecutive seasons from 1986-90. Strahan was No. 1 in sacks each season from 1995-98, but shared the 1996 lead with Chad Bratzke.
Umenyiora also had 10.0 sacks in his two seasons with Atlanta, including 2.0 last year.
But Umenyiora did more than just tackle quarterbacks behind the line of scrimmage. He often separated them from the ball, a play popularly referred to now as the strip sack. The Elias Sports Bureau, official statistician for the NFL, does not officially recognize forced fumbles. But Elias does track them by reviewing the play-by-play of every NFL game. Unofficially, Elias has Umenyiora with 32 forced fumbles as a member of the Giants (tied for fifth in the NFL from 2002-13) and 35 in his career (also tied for fifth from 2003-14).
In 2010, Umenyiora had 10 forced fumbles, which is believed to have tied an NFL record set by Miami's Jason Taylor in 2006. But because Elias doesn't consider forced fumbles an official stat, it doesn't acknowledge the record. Apparently, however, no one has ever had more than 10 forced fumbles in a season.
Once the quarterback coughed up the ball, Umenyiora often secured it. He recovered 14 fumbles, three of which he returned for touchdowns. Umenyiora is the only player in Giants history with three touchdowns on fumble returns.
Umenyiora was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2005 and 2007, seasons in which he had a combined 27.5 sacks and nine forced fumbles.
Photos of Osi Umeryiora with teammates Michael Strahan and Justin Tuck
Umenyiora was the Giants' second-round draft choice in 2003, the 56th overall selection, from Troy University. He was NFC Special Teams Player of the Week in Week 17 of his rookie season (after blocking two punts in a game against Carolina), Defensive Player of the Week in 2007 Weeks 4 (his six-sack game) and 7 and NFC Defensive Player of the Month in October 2010. In four games that month, all Giants victories, Umenyiora had 18 tackles (10 solo), including 7.0 sacks and six forced fumbles.
Umenyiora had three consecutive multiple-sack games that October: 3.0 sacks vs. Chicago, 2.0 at Houston and 2.0 vs. Detroit. Prior to that stretch, he had never had multiple sacks in back-to-back games. Umenyiora also forced two fumbles in each of those three games.
He scored his touchdowns on Dec. 12, 2004 at Baltimore (50-yard fumble return), Oct. 21, 2007 vs. San Francisco (75 yards) and Sept. 13, 2009 vs. Washington (37 yards).
In his 10 seasons with the Giants, Umenyiora played in 129 regular-season games with 89 starts.
He was credited with 424 tackles (285 solo), including the 75.0 sacks.
Umenyiora also played in 10 postseason games with six starts and had 39 tackles (22 solo), including 5.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles.
Umenyiora started the Giants' victory over New England in Super Bowl XLII (he had four tackles, including three solo) and contributed as a reserve when they defeated the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.
"Once he had some success, he really wanted more success," Strahan said. "He wanted to be the best, he wanted to outplay me, he wanted to outplay everybody in the league. He wanted to be the best lineman that we had, and he was able to do that."