Guard Chris SneeOp
This is going to be a lot shorter (than Shaun O'Hara's retirement speech). It's a bittersweet day. But, one, I really had no choice. It's no secret that I'm going to retire. It'll be an adjustment for myself, my family, but something I had to do. It's been a great 10 years, I'm thankful for all the memories and for the opportunity to come back this spring and try to improve on the memory I had from last year but it wasn't going to happen. I had to admit that I can no longer play. It's a sad day but once I leave, I'll be at peace with it.Q: When did you come to that realization?
A: Really, it's been a roller-coaster. When I went on IR last year I thought it was it. Then I had the fire to play again. I sat down with Jerry Reese and told him my intentions, asked him if he thought I could still play and he said yes. He said he would give me the opportunity to work this spring and see if my body would hold up. It was going great, I wasn't lying to you guys when I said in May it was great. But I was feeling good. I started OTAs and practice and things went south in a hurry. I was going to be honest like I said I would. I wouldn't be able to play the game I would expect and wouldn't have been proud of the product I put on the field. Those were all clear signs. So, to answer your question, I let Jerry Reese know probably at the end of June of what I was leaning towards doing and made it official a couple of days ago.Q: What has it meant to you to represent this franchise?
A: It's been an honor. I couldn't imagine playing for any other team. It's a class organization. The fact that they gave me the opportunity this spring is exactly what I'm talking about when I mean 'class organization.' They didn't have to. They also were prepared for this and have a lot of guys who can play but I'm going to miss it. It's going to be hard, it's going to be a transition. But the fact that I had so many respected people tell me that they're happy I made this decision made my mind rest. When I was still kind of going back and forth and struggling to throw a baseball with my son, it's time.Q: When you look back, hundreds of kids come out of college every year. 10 years in the league, 2 championsships, multiple Pro Bowls and All-Pro. When you look at that, do you say 'wow, did that really happen to me?'
A: Not yet, I plan on doing that in the next couple of weeks. Then I'll resurface and maybe watch a practice. I'm proud of what I've done and what I've come from. But I haven't truly reflected on it yet. I think this is still very sudden, but as of right now, I'm still trying to get through today.Q: John Mara said for the first time, he immediately told a player who retired that they would be in the Ring of Honor. What did that mean?
A: That was special. That was just another class act by this organization. When that day comes, I'm sure I'll be a mess again.Q: Did you hear from Shaun (O'Hara), Dave (Diehl), Richie (Seubert)?
A: Yeah, I heard from all of them and Kareem (McKenzie), too. That was a special group we had. One we should've cherished more when we were together. Those are my brothers. I thought that I would be able to hang on a little bit longer and they're still living through me. Richie's called me four times since midnight. He's in California, so he's not sleeping much. Shaun, the same, and Dave. We've always had each other's back and that's not going to change. We're a part of the history.Q: Can you talk about your conversation with Eli? Did you call him yesterday?
A: We've been through a lot together. We've been here 10 years together. I didn't want him to find out when I came in on Monday. We have a special relationship. We've been through a lot, two championships and just becoming great friends by the end of this. I thought he had the right to know before everyone else did.Q: Was the conversation with Tom more emotional given that he is more than just a coach?
A: Which one? The first time, yes. I came in Saturday to let him know. I was hoping to catch Mr. Mara and Mr. Reese but they weren't here. So I told him that and that was tough. It's gotten easier the more people I tell. It's kind of been sitting in me for a while. You know it's coming but until it comes out of your mouth, it doesn't sound…I never thought I could get those words out.Q: Was Tom the first one you told after Kate (wife)?
A: Yes.Q: Did Tom know it was coming?
A: Yes, he did. He said he knew it was coming. For my health, I think he was happy. He said some kind words. It's been a great run, and I couldn't imagine playing for anyone else.Q: John Mara called you the quintessential Giant. How do you want people to remember Chris Snee in Giants history?
A: I gave it everything I had. I played through everything I could. I tried to play through this…when I watch the tape, as a player/competitor, you have to be proud of what you're seeing. I just knew that it wouldn't happen. I knew that I wouldn't be playing at the level that I expected of myself. It's time but I do want the fans to know that I tried everything I could to come back and give them one more season. I'll still be here and I was around all spring. I feel like my time here was not of at waste in the spring. I was able to work with a lot of young guys and I hope that helps them translate.Q: When you were drafted, you knew you would play for your father-in-law at some point. Could you have known, 10 years later, you and your wife with the three boys and just the whole decade?
A: No. It's been a great run but to stand here and say that I imagined for everything to have happened, to win those championships, I'd be lying to you. I didn't think this run would be as successful but now that I am here and have gotten to know coach very well and the guy I am. We have the same goals and same team aspect in mind. We're extremely hard workers and that, in the long run, will pay off.Q: What did you want to leave your teammates with? Especially your fellow o-linemen. You being the most senior guy in the room and now that you're not there.
A: Now it's time for someone else to step up. The same way I had to the same day Richie and Shaun left that day. I went to coach and said I'm not a big rah-rah guy, but I'll lead the way that I can. That's the nature of the game. There's change every year and it's tough this year with David (Baas) and Kevin (Boothe), you have younger guys and younger vets that need to step up. But I think there are character guys in that room and guys who are looking to rectify their reputation of the o-line.Q: Will you continue to call Tom 'Coach?'
A: Yeah, absolutely. That's out of respect and he's a coach. Every coach along the way I've had, I still call coach.Q: When you look back on that offensive line with Kareem, Shaun, Richie, and everybody, what's that memory that sticks out about the rest? Is it the two 1,000-yard running backs in one year, the Super Bowls, what memory sticks out in your mind?
A: I think it was just the day to day. We had fun. We loved coming in, we learned to back off one another. It was just a fun group to be around, but also when we hit the field, it was work. I knew what Kareem would do and Shaun would do. We all knew we had each other's backs. It's tough to pinpoint one memory of that group.Q: The father-in-law/player situation is a pretty unique situation. When you look back on it how do you view the totality of the whole thing and how it went over the years?
A: It's kind of worked out the way that I'm sure both of us imagined. We both have the same visions in mind, the same 'team-first' mindset. When I'm here, I'm a player and he's coach. That didn't change … He expected a lot out of me, but nothing more than he did out of any other player and that was expected from a man of integrity.Q: Some guys retire and leave; they go back home. Will you stay? Do you know yet?
A: We'll stay in the area, but you probably won't see me for a couple weeks. I'm going to need to disappear, but I'm not going to uproot and move to California like Richie did. I'm going to stay here. This is home. My kids love the games. They're going to want to come. I'm going to want to go. It's going to be tough at first. but that's the way life goes. It's the end we want.Q: You were hoping to get one more year so this did not blindside you as far as looking way down the road. You had an exit strategy in mind…
A: Yeah, I knew it was coming, I just – everyone just – kind of wants that Strahan ending… That's wishful thinking. I know I'm not entitled to anything but I would like to play one more game and not have a performance like Carolina in my mind, but I don't think I could've made it any better. That's another reason why it was an easy decision to make.Q: Do you think you want to coach? Somewhere, somehow, some way?
A: I'll start at the high school level, somewhere in there. I don't know if I'll ever make it to this level unless… My wife and I are really going to hang out in the next few weeks, but she told me I need to find a job after that.Q: But you know what that [coaching] entails…
A: Yeah, I'm not ready for this type of commitment. I do love the game and it's hard for me to picture myself not being around it, so I'll find some high school or somewhere to volunteer and get my football fix and have the scoreboard.Q: How do you think you accomplished what you did? You remember that first game, or that game where Glover did a pretty good job on you in Dallas.
A: I've always kind of been self-motivated and extremely hard on myself. I think that's worked for me. That feeling I had when I was talking about that Dallas game when he handed it to me, I didn't want to feel like that. There's nothing worse than when you're in a film study the next day and you're the guy who's holding your team back. That's not a good feeling. That's kind of why I'm standing up here, too, because I didn't want to be that guy to hold his team back.Q: You mentioned that you have season tickets. I think you just recently bought them. How weird is that going to be?
A: No offense to the fans, but I don't think I can sit in those seats just yet. It'll be weird, but I know my kids love going to the games. It's a part of us. We'll go. I'm going to have to trim down to fit in those seats but it's a part of our life and it'll continue to be so.Q: You've had a lot of highs, a couple of lows here. Is this the most emotional day of your career?
A: Yeah, it is. It's up there with last year when I thought that was the end. It's something that even though you're prepared for it, it's still tough to do.Q: Do you have a favorite moment or a favorite story from your career here at the Giants?
A: My favorite moments are winning the Super Bowls. There's no comparison to that. That's what every team who starts camp their first day, that's their goal. To say that we won twice in my 10 years, it's an honor for me. The Super Bowls are special in different ways. At this time, there are so many memories and thoughts going through my mind, to narrow that down is impossible, so I'm just going to say it's been a fun journey.Q: Looking forward, how do you think you'll come out of this health-wise? You're still young.
A: I think I'll be ok. At some point down the line there'll be more work that needs to be done, but in the immediate future, I think my plan is to just get healthy and shed those pounds that I just put back on in the past three months to try to play, just focus on my health for the first time in a long time.Q: When you talked to us in the locker room in December or after you had the hip and were going for the elbow, you kind of joked. You said, "Well, I'm laid up, I might as well get the elbow fixed." Did you realize it was going to be this kind...?
A: I didn't. I knew it was a different procedure, but I had my elbow scoped two other times. It was more extensive work and there's only so much cartilage and bone you can take out of a joint – it doesn't grow. I think it just got to the point where it's had enough. The way I train and the way I get myself ready for a season is a lot. Like I said, strength has been such a large part of my game and something I take a lot of pride in. If I'm not able to do that, I can't play the game the way I know how.Q: What would you like to say to Giants fans?
A: Just thank you for everything. It's been a great run. I'll be around, so don't feel sorry for me. You can come up and talk to me. It's been a great run. There's nothing I can regret, and I've tried everything.Q: Is there any part of you that thinks that if you had 18 months instead of eight to get that elbow rehabbed that you could get back to where you needed to be?
A: I don't know. I think that the doctors did a great job doing the surgery and my rehab was the best. They do a tremendous job here. I just think there comes a point when your body has had enough and that's the decision everyone has to make. I chose to make that decision now. Despite the tears up here, I'm comfortable with it.Q: You mentioned before that you wish you had one more game to kind of get the taste of the last one out of your mouth. Will you be able to let that one go now?
A: I will, and that's because the Giants gave me this spring to try. If they hadn't, then I would probably still be wondering what if and if I could still play, but now I know the answer.
Giants Presidet John Mara**
Re: Chris Snee
A: … not only on the field but off the field as well. At least he's walking out on his own terms. Not a lot of guys get to do that so I'm happy for him that he was able to make this decision by himself. But it's tough to lose a guy like that. You just don't replace Chris Snee.
Q: What legacy do you think he leaves here?
A: Just, as I said before, he was the quintessential Giant. Everything you could ever ask for in a player. When you go to look at players in the draft or free agency, that's what you're looking for. Not only the ability but the toughness, integrity, shows up every day, model citizen off the field, winning matters to him, he takes it personally and he just sets a great example for the other 52 players. He is everything you want in a New York Giant.
Q: Do you remember 10 years ago when he was drafted? Did you have much reservation with drafting the coach's future son-in-law?
A: Not when I saw the reports on him. We had such high grades on him. I told them the story before, Ernie Accorsi and I talking about whether to trade next year's number one pick or that year's number two pick and we decided to keep the number two pick because we thought it was going to be a really good player. I didn't dream it was going to be that good of a player. He was one of the best we've ever had.
Q: It's a very unusual dynamic, how did you view that and how did you see it over the years between the two? That's a tough spot to be in.
A: I think it's a very tough spot but when the guy is as good of a player as Chris was and as tough a player as Chris was, nobody really gave that a second thought. He performed at the highest possible level, so the fact that he was related to the coach, it just didn't mean anything after a while because he was such an exceptional player and such a great leader.
Q: Is he worthy of the Ring of Honor?
A: I already told him. We just have to figure out a date. He's definitely going up there.
Q: Can you talk about the leadership that he brought to the locker room and just to the organization in general?
A: For him, he was not a real vocal guy, it was more by example. He showed up for work every day, worked as hard as anybody in the weight room, was the first guy out on the practice field, always practiced as hard as he played. He led by example and that's one of the things that you have to have to have a winning team.
Q: He took last year personally because he couldn't help and very much wanted to be a part of the solution here. Can you tell it's emotional for him that he's not really going to have that opportunity?
A: Yeah, he said to me that he couldn't go through another year like he went through last year because I knew it hurt him not to be out there. He felt like he was stealing money. He gave us everything he had. If anything, he was underpaid. I can say that now since he's retired. But we're going to miss him. You just can't have enough players like that.
Q: Did he embody everything that's right about being a Giant?
A: You can't ask a guy to be any more than he was. He embodied everything that we ever want in a player, ever will want in a player. We're going to miss his leadership, miss his presence on the field. This one is a tough one for all of us personally.
Q: I'm sure it's not much of a surprise. Do you feel like you prepared at the position during the offseason?
A: Well, we're going to find out. We added some good players but whether they can play up to Chris' standards and become a unit like the units that we had in '07 and '11, time will tell.
Q: Do you worry about the offensive line?
A: I worry about everything. But yeah, that's a position with all of the new faces there that are going to have to prove themselves but we think they have the ability to do so but time will tell.
Q: How often did you get updates from Chris about his health?
A: He had spoken to Jerry several times during the offseason and said that he wanted to wait until training camp to make a decision because he felt like he was making some progress but I think recently, he'll tell you this in a few minutes, I feel like recently he felt like he was not where he should have been so he made the decision to retire. We had a suspicion that this might be… we were all hoping that he would be able to come back and play again.
Q: The changes around here just in the last couple years, Eli and DeOssie are the only guys that played in both Super Bowls. What about the idea of Eli bridging one era to the other?
A: Well, I guess you could say that. I don't really think so much in those terms but that's just the nature of the business. Careers don't last that long and I'm aware that there are not a lot of players left. Mathias Kiwanuka also, he was on… but Eli is the veteran on the team now.
Q: Again with all of the changes, having the same head coach and quarterback, does that ease your mind a little bit?
A: It does, no question about it. Not withstanding all of the attempts by some of you to get him fired over the years, it does help that he's still here in his job, yes.
Q: Do you sense this is tough on Tom to see…?
A: I know it is. He called me over the weekend to tell me that this was going to happen. You could hear the emotion in his voice, so yeah.
Q: You talked about fixing the offense after the end of last season, do you think that this group that you've assembled will enable it to be fixed?
A: I hope so. We certainly paid a lot of attention to that and knew that was a problem and we've added some pieces but until they start doing it on the field, nobody knows for sure but we're confident that we have enough ability there.
Q: How do you view this training camp compared to maybe some of the past ones with all of the changes?
A: It will be a little different because we're coming off a poor season and we have added a lot of new faces so there's going to be a lot of good competition for a lot of different spots so I think in a lot of different respects it makes it a more interesting training camp than one we've had in quite a few years.
Q: What do you say to the fans in terms of the team that you've assembled for this year?
A: We did our best in the offseason to add the missing pieces and now we just have to wait and see if they can perform. We think they can, but until they start doing it on the field we're not making any predictions.
Q: Do you think you're set at offensive line or would you even be looking to add a little bit more?
A: You never know. We're not out there looking for anybody in particular but we'll see what happens as camp goes on and the preseason goes on.
Q: I can't imagine…?
A: It doesn't happen very often but you don't get very many Chris Snees.
Q: Do you remember the last time he did that?
A: I don't think we've ever done that.
Coach Tom Coughlin**
Q: How tough was it to hear the news on Saturday that Chris Snee had decided to retire? A: It was tough. It was very tough. I've been thinking that this could happen. I've just been on a family vacation with him. I watched him agonize over this for literally the whole summer as he tried to get himself in position to do the things required of him at his position especially the tremendous way in which he puts pressure on himself to perform at the highest level. It was a sad day.
I knew that there was a Little League game down in Montclair and that's where (Snee's second son) Cooper and Chris were and all of a sudden, I got this little tap on the back from Cooper. We visited for a couple of minutes, and Chris said can I speak to you and I knew. I called Jerry and John Mara and it's a sad day for the New York Giants. It's a sad day for our whole family personally. I just walked into the cafeteria and saw two of the boys, the two oldest boys, crying. When (Snee's wife, Tom's daughter) Kate saw me, she cried, too, because you have to remember for (Snee's oldest son) Dylan, this is his whole life. He has been coming around here since he was a little guy.
Very difficult day for Chris because Chris is a guy who's shunned the lime light and likes it that way. He's been here for probably four or five hours and it has been one thing continuously after another. All of that said and done, you're talking about a guy who is a great football player. He has done everything that you want in a man and in a football player. You may say you're not very objective about this. I'm not pleading my case for objectivity right now, I'm just telling you the quality of the man is greater than the quality and the ability of the football player, and that's as good as it gets.
If you look at what he has accomplished over the first eight years of his career, he blocked them all, everybody he faces. Everybody takes those big old guys and squats them in there on that side. He blocked them all. He can run, pass protect. He provided for our team the things that we are looking for in terms of the values and principles and the concepts that we believe in. The guy probably didn't say a word for the first three years he was here. All he did was line up and play. He practiced hard and played hard and he was driven. He was a very proud guy. If you look at the records, there were two players who competed to be the strongest players in the program, Linval Joseph and Chris.
Chris always took great pride in that because that's how he played. He played physical and when his ailments came to the front this summer, he couldn't play the game the way he wanted to play. I think that's the ultimate decision he had to make. As far as the quality of the man and the quality of the football player…
I have been asked a thousand times by each one of you, one at time for all these years what's it like to coach your son-in-law. I get it when I'm speaking in public or whatever I am doing. The question always has an edge to it as if they want to hear me say it is something that is difficult. Please, Please Lord. I'll take a hundred of him. If there are 53, I will take 53 of him because you ask his teammates what they think about him. You ask the people who have been with him forever. Ask Eli really what he thinks about him. I think I am saying it exactly the way it is.
The other thing to remember and I saw some the texts Chris sent to the family and I saw some of the texts that came back. The older son Tim said he should retire the greatest offensive lineman in the history of the New York Giants. I said well you may have to … there a little bit with some of our great players in the past, but you're on record. The other (son) Brian came back and said "76, you did it the right way. You accomplished everything you can accomplish in the game and you did it with honor" and he did. He did it with honor and he did it as a great example. He was a great example this offseason with our young guys. He had Pugh and he had Herman and had those guys going and doing it the right way and we will miss all of those things.
However you want to describe it, whether you want to talk about the classroom, the practice field, the locker room, the community, he was there and he did it so the New York Giants can be very proud. Mr. Mara said it and I will just be backing it up. He will be in the Ring of Honor without a doubt and hopefully some other things will come his way as the years go by.
Q: When did you realize that this was going to happen? Did you know it was going to happen before camp?
A: I braced myself for it. It wasn't getting better. He wasn't able to do what he wanted to do. I knew he would do the right thing for him and for us and he did. He gave us an opportunity to go to camp full strength. He is a man of honor and guy of principle. He decided this is the right time and the right way.
Q: When you talk about the leader he has been for the team and especially in that room, how do you replace that?
A: That's a good question. I'm not sure. We have some guys in there, a lot of quality guys, but some of them are new, some of them are young. They will have to step up. When Shaun retired and moved on, Chris came to me and said, 'Look, I'm not a rah-rah guy, but I will take care of the X's and O's part of it in the meetings. I'll make sure everybody knows what they are doing and stay focused on the offensive linemen and he did.
Q: How do you replace him on the field?
A: You have no choice but to move on and we will. The guys that are here will play like heck and give it everything they've got and we certainly feel like we've got people in that position in that locker room that can help us win. That's all I can say.
Q: You're going to have a roster spot, are you going to go look for additional help at that position?
A: We'll take care of that. I just said that. We've already moved on.
Q: You said you braced for it, you kind of knew this was a possibility. Do you feel like you guys did that personnel-wise knowing that this could happen? That you are prepared?
A: Well, we had to be, we had to prepare. One way or the other, we had to be prepared. Now do you have a Chris Snee out there to bring in? No, of course not. But we'll do the best we can.
Q: What did it mean to you over the last 10 years to be able to have your family life a little bit closer to you because Chris played here? A lot of coaches don't get that opportunity.
A: That's one of the best things that's ever been said about this. Having him here, having my daughter, my grandsons, having them so involved. Family days and all of the things that we do here as Giants, kids running around on this practice field and in the field house having a great time. And having that is such an integral part of our lives. With Judy, with Kate, with Chris and the boys, with Tim being here and Andrea and their kids, our grandchildren over there. It's just been great. They've gotten a little bit beyond every Friday night it's pizza night or something like that. They've gotten to where they have so many things going on but that's what we did for the first couple years, was try to set aside Friday nights and that was something that I'll always remember. Try to remember the fact that Chris is a Giant, he'll always be a Giant. He said, 'I won't ever play any place else.' So he'll be here. He'll be around, so that's important.
Q: You said you braced yourself for the news, have you also braced yourself that, you've never been head coach here without him on your roster…?
A: It gave me great confidence to have him in that locker room because I never worried about any part of it if he was involved. You're right, that's going to be different. And I told him that. When I stand up in front of the team and I used to look up and see where he sat and I'd look up and there he'd be. There's no question, it was a great source of confidence to me and now he's not going to be in that chair.
Q: Do you think it made this whole thing work because he was the player he was? It wasn't like teammates could look around and say, 'Does this guy get preferential treatment?' He was earning his way and doing it every game day.
A: Yeah. No question about it. I've said it many times and I'll repeat it: he was a guy that just grabbed his lunch bucket and went to work, never said anything. Whatever you told him to do, he'd do it at 100 miles per hour. Let's face it, that's why he's got some ailments right now, the way he played. He was full speed, all out, physical, physical football. I'll leave you with one story, I don't know if you'll think it's funny. So we bring him in, we can't believe he's where we picked him; he's in the first round for us. So we're tapping the ground, we've already got Eli and there he sits. So we bring him in and it takes you about five seconds to see that he's the best lineman on the field, but he's young, so let's keep him behind people for a while. So we go through the spring, I guess it was…he tells me it was the fall, I thought it was the spring…and I call him in and I sit him down and I said, 'Chris, we're going to move you to the starting right guard position.' And this is what he quotes me as having said. I don't remember it. He said I looked at him and I said, 'You haven't earned it and you don't deserve it yet, but we're moving you into the starting position anyway.' It's a good thing we did.
Q: You got positive news on Wilson today.A: Yeah, we were anticipating that and it was good news.
Q: He's cleared?
A: Cleared. Cleared to go.
Q: So are you going to tread lightly with him?A: Yeah, sure.
Q: You talked, I think it was in March, that when he comes back he probably wouldn't be doing so much in kick return when he first gets back.
A: He'll probably take the first kickoff back in Canton next week. That would be the thing. And that's something he does extremely well, so it's going to be a little bit difficult but, quite frankly he's an amazing kid. I know we're talking about a very, very serious, serious injury but about two weeks after he's had the surgery, he's in the weight room and I have to slow him down. He's over there doing stuff with his legs. 'David, do you have any idea what just took place here?' Hopefully, hopefully it will go this way as we bring him along. He wants to do everything now. He's out there running back and fourth like it's nobody's business.
Q: What do you think of him now as a player? He's had some up and down moments as a player. Now that he's healthy, what do you sense that he could be as a player now? The same as you did a couple years ago when you took him?
A: Well, we've got to wait and see how this thing has affected his overall game but he definitely has a place.
Q: How did the rest of the team look for conditioning today?
A: We had a couple guys a pound or two overweight but out of 90, that's not bad. We'll melt those guys down pretty good fast so they can be as good as they can be. They did a good job. It's not a killer conditioning run, it's not intended to be. But we did, I told them this morning that they should be real happy and thank me for taking them out here. They had three hours of meetings, they come out here and they get to stretch and run around, come in here and have dinner and go in for three more hours of meetings. I'm sure they'll be waiting to thank me.
Q: Manningham and Beatty participated in that. Are they cleared to go?
A: They're limited. They're going to be limited. Don't ask me what that is, I've never figured that one out but they are limited.
Q: But they're not going to be on PUP?
Pat: Beason's the only one on PUP.
Q: What about John Jerry. He was working on the side. He's also limited or is he…?
A: He'll be limited, yeah. But he is cleared to practice so he can do some things. We'll see how that goes. He's lighter than he's been. He's lighter than he was when he left here.
Q: What's lighter for you?
A: You're not going to get me quoted. He's a large guy. He's a solid, solid big man.
Q: Eli didn't run…?
A: He didn't run last year either.
Q: Is Mosley the first man in for Snee?
A: Yeah we'll rotate. Mosley will be out there first, I'm sure. Unless 12 of them run out when I blow the whistle. That may happen
RB David Wilson**
A: …I'm definitely excited. I got cleared this morning around 9:00. That was the best news I'd gotten in a while. Q: Are they going to gradually ease you in or are they going to throw you in head first and let you do everything?
A: The doctor told me I'm good to go. He said to have a good season and stay healthy.
Q: You expected this, obviously, but still, like you said, the pictures are the pictures. When they said it, was it a great relief to you?
A: Like I said, I've just been waiting on their okay. I always felt fine and capable of doing my job and coming out here and competing with the other guys, but you want to come out here and be safe as well. You have a long life after football and football is something I love, so as long as I can play it, I want to play it. The doctors gave me the okay this morning and I'm excited for training camp to start.
Q: How do you see your role on this team now? They sort of prepared for life without you and now that you're here, there's extra bodies and extra competition there.
A: It's just bonus bodies. Like I said, I'm excited to go out there and compete. We're all going to compete and my role is as a team player: to go out there and push guys. I want to do the best I can do and they want to do the best they can do. We're all going to be out here. We have guys striving toward being great or trying to be great and helping the team win. That's when you get a team effort, when everybody is pushing everybody.
Q: Are you going to have to wear any special equipment to protect your neck going forward?
A: No, the doctor said that I was good to go. I'm back to normal. I can play regular football with no special equipment, no medication, or anything else.
Q: We've seen your videos. Obviously you're in shape; you can do flips and everything else, but what are your benchmarks as you go through camp, things that you're concerned about with the rust that you need to do to really get to being the player that you want to be?
A: I just want to get back into it and go out and have fun and enjoy the game. I think a lot of time guys forget to enjoy the game while they're playing it. The only time you can enjoy it is when you're playing well. You can prepare and do all the things you can to prepare and play well. That way you can have fun.
Q: Are you most concerned though about stamina, taking hits, your speed? What of the physical attributes worry you the most?
A: No real concerns. I'm just excited, most definitely. I'm ready to get back out there and compete. I love competition so I haven't been sitting on the couch. As I came out here and got started with training camp, I knew that my appointment was this day and training camp is the next day, so I prepared myself. Like I said, you want to be prepared to go out there and have fun.
Q: Did you prepare yourself the other way, too, in case you weren't going to get cleared?
A: No, I didn't. I didn't think negatively at all. Not for one second.
Q: Did you have any of those moments in the off-season where you wondered if you were going to be able to come back?
A: No, I like to stay positive about everything. That's one thing about me. I try to enjoy everything I do and try to look for the positive sides. Even if it's the worst thing, there's a positive side to everything and if it's wrong, you can make it right.
Q: Do you have any doubts that when the time comes that you need to lower your head and go hit somebody that you will be able to do it?
A: No. When you second-guess, that's when you make mistakes. I just want to go out there and play full speed.
Q: Do you feel you have a lot to prove?
A: I think the fans really want to see me prosper this year, and my teammates as well. I've been waiting for that moment and I think it's time. Like I said, I've been preparing. Coming off an injury, missing a lot of games, I'm definitely anxious to get out there and make plays and score a touchdown and be out there and have fun and win games with my team.
Q: How has this changed you in any way? Has this whole ordeal changed you in any particular way as a player or as a person?
A: No, not at all. It's just made me more grateful and helped me realize even more… that I'm in a blessed position. Growing up, I wanted to play professional football and I'm here doing it. That was almost taken away at one point, but it wasn't. That's another way to show I'm blessed and it helped me realize that even more.
QB Eli Manning Q: Chris said you got a call from him yesterday. When you got that call was it something you expected or something on the horizon?
A: I talked a little bit about it, he told me he was hurting a little bit with his elbow. Coming off hip surgeries and I knew he was thinking about it. He was going to test it out and see how the elbow responded. When he called me yesterday, I had a feeling of what might be coming. I kind of never really thought it was going to happen or never wanted to really think about it happening. He's been such a tremendous teammate, a great friend of mine. We were roommates on the road and before games that first year. Sat next to him on the planes during each trip, on the bus. He's been a tremendous player, always right there in the huddle. Worked extremely hard, played through every injury and did things the right way. Definitely going to miss his presence on the field, in the locker room, in practice. You know his body wasn't going to let him play and he was going to listen to his body and I think he's making a good decision off that. A real unselfish decision for the Giants. He could've tried to come out for a little bit but he's a class act making a class act move.
Q: When did you come to the realization that this is where it was heading?
A: When he called. He talked about it a little bit with me. It was a decision that I did not want to think about that happening. I tried to avoid by saying, "You'll be fine, you'll be ready, you'll be back." Obviously, it's very realistic and one of those things that happens. You play 11 years and you lose some great friends and teammates to retirement. You wish he could go out on his own and not have to miss his last year with an injury and injuries preventing him from playing. I know he wanted to play another year and wanted to be here and finish on a strong note. Unfortunately, that won't happen.
Q: You're out of guys now that you came in with and almost out of guys that you played in the first Super Bowl with. Is that unsettling at all or do you feel your age?
A: When you win championships, you have a special bond with those teammates...You look around and you see less and less guys that were from that era and share that connection with. That's just football. They say the average career is 3.5 years and you get a lot of people in and out. As you get older in your career, you see more and more of it, a lot of new faces. You have to keep going and keep working and make new connections and new friends and new players and keep trying to have great teams.
Q: How's the ankle and how encouraged are you [post-surgery]?
A: The ankle feels great, 100 percent. Don't feel it and don't think about it. So it's not an issue. And excited about being at another training camp and get the season kicked off. It's an exciting time. It's what you look forward to. Getting back to your work and playing football and practicing. Getting back to your schedule in training camp. This is all what it's about. Excited to be back in the mix and getting back to work.
Q: As you said, this is usually an exciting time. Is there any sadness in the locker room with the Chris [Snee] news?
A: Yeah. Coach Coughlin talked about it today and talked about the player and person Chris has been and that he is these last 10 years. He's been a staple at that guard position since his rookie year. Been so consistent and done everything the right way. It is sad when you lose a great teammate and great friend to retirement. But you just have to keep going on. I know it's sad for him to leave the game of football. He can't play or be around the locker room. I know it's going to be tough.
Q: Whoever steps in, whether it's [John] Jerry or [Brandon] Mosley or whoever, those are some pretty sizeable shoes to fill.
A: No doubt. He's been a tremendous player. Hopefully somebody can step in. We got a lot of new offensive linemen this year. We need that group to play well and step in to play at a high level for us.
Q: What did that mean to you to be co-captains on offense with Chris [Snee] last season?
A: Chris has always been a tremendous leader. He wasn't a guy to say a whole lot. He was going to work his tail off on the practice field, in the games, he was prepared in the meetings. Led by example on the way things are done. Whether it's preparation or understanding opposing defenses, his work ethic in practice and he had a great attitude each day. We had a great run together. To be on the same team, win championships together, and play all these games has been a pleasure.
Q: Do you feel you have to fill in more in the leadership regard now? Or is it someone else that has to fill in on the offensive line?
A: You need all sorts of leaders on a team, kind of from each position you need that leader. Everybody has their own role and responsibilities. We do have some new faces and some young guys in the offensive line room, so we'll need one or a couple guys to step up and be that leader for that group.
Q: Now that David Wilson has been cleared... Are you anxious to see him fulfill the potential that he has?
A: Yeah, I am excited to see David. I know last year was kind of a tough year with the injury, but he got some playing experience in the spring, so to have him in that mix of running backs, he is a special athlete. He does have a lot of great skills and we have to figure out a way to get him the ball. Get the ball in his hands and make some plays and hit some big plays for us.
Q: Do you have reasons for optimism with the new offense and the mostly new o-line in front of you?
A: Yeah definitely, I think in the spring the first couple practices you are just trying to get a feel for things, and you are thinking a lot. As we got in the OTAs and mini-camps, we started to look and feel like a football team, like an offense that was making plays and had an understanding for what was going on and we clicked a little bit. Hopefully we can get right back onto that to where we finished off in the spring. Come in here and get rolling and get a better feel for everything that is going on. I think that what this offense can produce and the plays we can make and how efficient we can be in the practices. I think that will lead into these games and given that extra pre-season game this year, we'll have a few extra practices, which will be important for us to get an understanding of the offense, working with the offensive coordinator and getting on the same page on how to game plan and everything that goes on.
Q: Do you have an appreciation for Chris knowing he did all this playing for his father-in-law?
A: Yeah, he had to take a lot of grief for that. The first couple years were more difficult just because he does have a quiet personality, and people were giving him a hard time about that, having your father-in-law be the head coach. He just took it in stride as he got older and he became a more dominant player and as he built more friendships there... His personality started coming out a little bit more the last little bit. You saw that kind of progression, but 10 years playing offensive line in the NFL is an accomplishment. It is tough to do that. To play at a high level, make Pro Bowls and be consistent as long as he has been is a tremendous feat.
Q: You sort of were saying that it might have bothered him a little bit that people were talking about that and getting on him for that. Is that something you noticed when you… did he talk to you about that? You spent a lot of time with him early.
A: He didn't say a whole lot that early. Both of us have quiet personalities. The first year, we kind of laugh about it now, the first year in the hotel room there was not a whole lot of conversations going on. He was definitely not going to talk about that. Before a game, get his feelings out to me. I think it was just that he was kind of quiet and a bunch of veterans and a bunch of guys kind of getting on him about it. It was kind of fun-loving stuff. He's got no comeback, you just kind of have to take it. As he got older, he kind of started responding back to the guys and he kind of became the big man in the locker room. His play kind of earned him the right that nobody gave him a hard time.
Q: You participated in OTAs just seven weeks after surgery. After that you've had a couple of weeks, have you been resting up or have you been working out?
A: A combination. Just rest it a little bit after all of the OTAs and make sure to come into training camp full speed. Yeah, I've been training, been doing everything as well and I feel good. I feel strong and I'm ready to go full speed.
Q: Installing a new offense for the first time ever for you, has it really given you a fresh challenge at this point in your career to take on something that's different than what you've been doing for a long time?
A: Yeah, it is different and you come into the season a little nervous. You just don't have… you have a good feel for it but not to where I want it to be. That just comes with repetition and more plays. It is, it's a different feeling at this time of year than in previous years. Still have a lot of work to do, a lot to improve on to get comfortable myself and get comfortable with my teammates and everything that goes on with being successful in an offense. I know we have a lot of work to do but I'm excited about that challenge.
Q: At least three-fifths of that line is going to be new, new starters at least. What does that change for you or what can you do to try and make that process move along?
A: We've got to challenge them. Each day we've got to have a lot of communicating, make sure we're communicating the same things on our calls and on our checks, changing up the cadence, so I think you throw everything out there that you want to do, you can't hold things back because you've got some new guys but for the most part they're veteran guys along that offensive line, guys who have played and played in the NFL so I think they'll respond well. Just about working in that offensive line, it's all about working together and guys communicating with each other, everybody being on the same page. Sometimes it's not how good each one is individually but how well they work as a team.
Q: Do you have to build trust in them or is it something that you just have to have regardless?
A: No, you always trust your guys, the guys who are out here working. I have total faith that they'll do their job and they know I'll work to try to do my job.
Q: What do you have a full confidence of in the offense going into Week 1 or is that something that can even extend a little bit into the season in terms of having 100% confidence in…?
A: I hope I have a great confidence, I don't know how you do a percentage. I think I'll go in thinking I have 100% confidence in it. I think each week I'm sure there will be something you learn or you correct. But that's football. It's not so much in the offense. I'm going to know what everybody's responsibility is and everybody's play and everyone's route, it's just growing within an offense and understanding all of the possibilities that you can get to. That will continue to get better each practice, each pre-season game and then even into each game.
Q: Chris was kind of that last piece of one of the more iconic lines in Giants' history. What's your favorite memory of playing with those guys for the years you were together, either on the field or off?
A: That was a close-knit group right there, that offensive line. Dave Diehl, Shaun O'Hara, Richie Seubert, Chris Snee, Kareem, that was a great run. We won championships and had great teams in other years and a lot of playoffs and we were together for a long time, I think five years, six years of that crew. We had a lot of fun outside of football and in the locker room. There was a lot of back and fourth and pranks and different things but when we got on the field or we got in the meeting room, we could flip that switch. We prepared hard and we worked hard and we fought together in a lot of games so I think that's what you hope you can build with your teammates, to have that great relationship with them off the field, be able to have fun but also know when it's time to work and have great confidence those guys are going to work their tail off to do anything they can to win.