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Deon Grant retires as a Giant

Giants safety Deon Grant looks on during practice.

Giants safety Deon Grant looks on during practice. (Jan. 27, 2012) Credit: AP

Veteran safety Deon Grant, an underappreciated component to the Super Bowl XLVI-winning team, announced his retirement from the NFL on Wednesday. And he did it in blue.

“I want to retire as a Giant,” he said in a statement issued through the team, “because I want to be a Giant for the rest of my life.”

Grant played for four NFL teams in an 11-year career. His stop with the Giants was the shortest of his teams, but clearly the most meaningful.

“The Giants are a connection in my heart that I knew that I was supposed to be there,” Grant said. “The last year that I signed there to go to the Super Bowl I could have signed with a bunch of teams, but I wanted to sign with the Giants. The way that the owners opened the doors and signed me back and the general manager (Jerry Reese) and the coaching staff … we did each other a favor, but it definitely solidified my career for me.”

Grant initially signed with the Giants in 2010 as insurance in case Kenny Phillips could not return from knee surgery. When Phillips did return, it pushed Grant out of the starting lineup for the first time in his career. But the Giants eventually found a valuable role for him, using him as a third safety in a unique package. They still call the third safety position "the Deon Grant role" around here.

He played in all 36 regular-season games of his tenure with the Giants.

“I understood the game a lot more at that stage,” Grant said. “When I went to the Super Bowl in Carolina (in 2003) I was so young, I was really, I’m not going to say taking it serious. But I was battling a hip injury, a (potential) career-ending injury and every year that went by I was just trying to last another year. But once I got to the point that I was at when I got to the Giants, I was a lot more comfortable. I knew how to enjoy the game instead of just taking it play-by-play or day-by-day. I really knew what to look forward to and I knew what my main focus and my main goal was.”

Grant was a leader whose influence touched the secondary and beyond. He was a mentor and sounding board to everyone from Antrel Rolle to Brandon Jacobs to Prince Amukamara.

Grant entered the NFL as a second-round draft choice of the Carolina Panthers in 2000. After sitting out his rookie season with a hip injury, he played three years apiece for the Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks. In those nine seasons, he started all 144 regular-season and seven postseason games his teams played.

Grant did not play in 2012. He subsequently underwent surgeries on his shoulder, ankle and hand.

“I had an opportunity to play last year, a few teams called me up, but I always said, once I win a ring, I think I’m going to leave the game,” Grant said. “My last year, I didn’t have to do training camp (he was re-signed on Aug. 16), came in and finished the whole season without having any injuries. I feel like it couldn’t get any more perfect than that. I had a couple of injuries that I had over the years that I never got fixed, that last year when I got the phone call from other teams I chose to get those injuries fixed. That solidified it for me, I didn’t want to come back and play any more after that.”

New York Sports