Justin Tuck made the news wire last week after he essentially bashed himself for his poor play this season. It’s very rare and a bit odd to hear a superstar player admit to the media that his play has flat out stunk, and that he doesn’t have an answer or a quick-fix for the problem. It sure doesn’t sound encouraging to New York Giants fans who are now in the midst of worrying about a schedule that is not getting any easier from here on out. Big Blue’s defensive captain had vowed last week that he would improve his play, but nothing really changed last Sunday night against the Eagles. Last season, Tuck had 11 1/2 sacks. This season, he has only mustered only two. He sounds very unsure about himself physically in the following interview.
Ultimately, Tuck will have to continue to fight through the groin and neck injuries he’s played with this season. It won’t come as a surprise to hear after the NFL season is over that Tuck may indeed have a serious neck injury that has been impairing his play far more than anyone had thought. Justin Tuck joined WFAN in New York with Mike Francesa to discuss throwing himself under the bus to the media last week, being frustrated with his injuries, the fear of his injuries holding him back physically, his evaluation of his play against the Philadelphia Eagles, hurting the Giants defense by playing hurt, not being sure if he is helping the Giants defense, talking with the Giants coaching staff about sitting out, playing at the level he is capable of, being in pain while playing and losing his explosiveness.
Let’s get to you personally. Last week you threw yourself under the bus. Very rarely do players throw themselves under the bus. Why did you do that?
“I was a little frustrated and not really happy about how I have been playing. Regardless of injuries or not. I’m just a little frustrated.”
You have been struggling with injuries. Is there something else we don’t know about? Why are you frustrated?
“I just need to get out of my own head. I think why I said that is [because] I was letting these injuries do more than affect me physically. I started letting them affect me mentally. That is something I can’t allow to happen and I’ve come to grips with it. I understand this season is going to be one of those seasons where you just gotta go out there and fight. You are not going to feel as good as you have been in the past. You are not going to feel as good until you have the season over and you have time to rest. It is going to be nagging little things that are going to affect how you play. I have just made in mind that I am not going to allow that to be a distraction for this football team. I am just going to go out there and keep my mouth closed and go out there play football as best as I can. That was me venting.”
Is it a fear of injury that is holding you back?
“A little bit. That’s what I was saying. I am not going to allow that to affect how I play. I am not going to allow the fear of maybe coming out and hurting anything else because I may as well just sit out if that is going to be the case. I am not going to allow that to happen. That’s basically what I was saying to myself in that rant that whatever percentage I am on Sunday I am going to give it to the football team. I don’t really care what the outcome is. We’ll deal with it throughout the week, but on Sunday I am not going to sit back and kind of pitty pat my way through a football game. I’ve never played that way and I won’t start now.”
How would you classify your play last night?
“I think I did some good things just playing within the defense and made some tackles here and there. I think I played fast, but I still look at the film and just say I should have made that play. If this was the case I would have made that play, but again just going out there and trying to help the football team.”
Are you hurting the team by being out there?
“I don’t know. I play that through my head a lot. We got so much talent on this defensive line especially on the defensive line. That’s something I played through my head sometimes.”
That’s not a good thing when you are a star player and you think you are hurting the team by going out there:
“I don’t think I am. I’ve asked coaches this. They’ve assured me that being out that football field that we are a better defense with me on the field and it’s tough though. I am competitor and I want to go out there and help my team win. I am not a selfish guy. I am not going to go out there just because I am the captain or whatever it may be. I am going out there to help the team win. If I can’t help win then I don’t need to be out there, but I think I did some things last night to help us win. I don’t think I hurt the team.”
Have you sat down and had a heart-to-heart about this subject with the coaching staff?
“Not a heart-to-heart just like conversations here and there.”
Is it fair to say that Tuck is going to become Tuck again real soon? Should we be looking for that?
“Mentally I’ll be Tuck again. I am going to do what what my body allows me to do and just go out there and give 100%.”
Are you still in pain?
Are there plays out there where the mind is willing and the body is not?
You have always been a player with explosiveness. You don’t seem to have that explosiveness:
“Yeah, but I am tired of talking about it. I am tired of looking – just going to go out there to play. I am not going to make any excuses about it.”