Jake Ballard, the former Giants tight end who tore his ACL in Super Bowl XLVI, announced his retirement from the NFL on Wednesday, saying he was never able to return to form after that knee injury.
"Yesterday I made the difficult decision to retire from the game of football," Ballard said in a statement. "I love this game and have put my heart and soul into it for as long as I can remember. After sustaining a serious knee injury while playing for the New York Giants in the Super Bowl, my body never felt the same. Having a quality of life after football is very important to me and I have witnessed it taken away from others. I will miss the game tremendously, but I am ready for this next chapter in my life."
Ballard injured his knee in the game and tried to run on the sideline only to have the knee buckle on him. He did not return to the game. He was waived/injured by the Giants the following summer, a procedural move to put him on injured reserve, but the Patriots claimed him. He never played a game in New England, but played in eight for the Cardinals last season.
Ballard had one productive NFL season, 2011 with the Giants. He was the unexpected replacement for Kevin Boss and wound up catching 38 passes for 604 yards and four touchdowns. He added five catches for 43 yards in the playoff run, including two catches in the Super Bowl before the injury.
Ballard is the most recent in what has become a trend of Giants (or former Giants) stepping away from the game because of injuries. Veteran guard Chris Snee retired at the start of training camp and running back David Wilson was told he can no longer play football due to a neck condition earlier this week.
"It was an honor and a privilege to play for the NY Giants, New England Patriots, and most recently the Arizona Cardinals," Ballard said. "I met amazing people from all of my teammates, to opponents, to trainers, to coaches, to owners, and everyone in between. I thank you for allowing me to be a part of your fraternity and I wish you all nothing but success."