For Justin Tuck and David Diehl, Sunday's game might be their Giants farewell
Justin Tuck said his emotions could get the better of him at some point Sunday afternoon.
"Sure, I'll be a little teary-eyed when I walk off the field,'' said Tuck, who faces what could be his final game as a Giant when he plays against the Redskins at MetLife Stadium.
Pausing as if to emphasize the drama of this potential changing-of-the-guard moment, the longtime captain and two-time Super Bowl champion stared blankly into his own uncertain future.
And then he smiled.
"Maybe,'' he said, pulling the rug out from under the sentimental image. "I doubt it, but maybe. I think it makes a better story if I say 'teary-eyed.' ''
As far as Tuck is concerned, he thinks the better story would be to win. The same is true of David Diehl, another longtime Giants -- the longest-tenured player on the team, in fact -- who could be playing his final downs in the only NFL uniform he's ever worn.
"Focus on this game and go out in the fashion that you want to,'' Diehl said. "Obviously, there's a little bit of thinking about that stuff, but most importantly, I'm thinking about looking to close this season the way we know we're capable of . . . and showing everyone what this team is all about one last time.''
Between them, Tuck and Diehl have 20 seasons of service, four Super Bowl rings, three All-Pro seasons and three Pro Bowl appearances. What neither has ever done is play the last game on his contract. They've always had extensions and new deals done before things got to that point.
But don't expect a Mariano Rivera-type farewell for any of the Giants who have made an impact in the last decade but whose future is uncertain. Tuck said he probably won't even take a moment to look around the stadium as he trots off the turf.
Of course, it figures to be a rainy, dreary day in a half-empty building. Still, no reflection. At least not of what could be his final moments as a Giant.
"I have enough memories to soak in anyway,'' he said.
At least Tuck and Diehl get the possibility of going out with their cleats and shoulder pads on. Others with two rings and expiring contracts such as Corey Webster, Brandon Jacobs and Aaron Ross will watch from injured reserve.
Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning also downplayed the significance of the moment, but not everyone was as devoid of feeling.
"It's tough as a coach, emotionally, when you're playing your last game, period,'' defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. "When you couple that with free agency, yeah, it's a difficult thing . . . The human side of it tells you that you have developed a relationship, you love these guys. It's a tough thing.''
Of all the on-the-bubble Giants, Tuck seems to have the most to offer the NFL in 2014. He leads the Giants with nine sacks, has become a strong leader for the defense and, after two subpar seasons, has shown critics that although his best days may be behind him, the ones in front of him shouldn't be so bad.
"It's football, and change is inevitable,'' he said. "It's a business. Whichever way it goes, either I'll be back next year trying to put some more trophies in the trophy room or I'll be somewhere else trying to put trophies in the trophy room.''
Tuck said he wants to return to the Giants but will let the free-agency process play out. He said he has had no conversations with Giants executives about his future and has asked his agent not to update him on any talks that have taken place at that level.
Tuck wanted to focus on football, not contracts, this season. And he'll do the same Sunday.
"I'm all about finishing,'' he said. "We have a game to play, and that's the focus . . . Even when that clock is at triple-zeros, it's not definite I'm going to be here and it's not definite I'm not going to be here. I don't know. I don't know what the feeling is going to be. But first and foremost, I hope it's happy because we got a win.''