Kevin Boss had the text typed into his phone while he was on the plane from Oakland to New Jersey in the summer of 2011. It was a message for Tom Coughlin, telling him that he was excited to be back with the Giants, that he was looking forward to getting back to work and that he would see him the following day at training camp.
Shortly afterward, Boss was on an airplane heading back to Oakland to sign with the Raiders.
"My agent called and was like, 'The Raiders made an offer and this is their offer,' '' Boss recalled for Newsday. "My wife and I both, when I got back onto the plane to turn around, we were both in tears. We didn't want to leave. I desperately wanted to come back to New York . . . That [business] side of it, I'm not too fond of.''
Boss signed with the Raiders, then the Chiefs. Eventually he suffered so many concussions that doctors advised him to stop playing football. But even now, four years removed from his final game with Big Blue -- he'll soon be a former Giant for longer than he was an actual one -- he still considers himself part of the New York Giants.
On Sunday he will return for the first time. He'll be at MetLife Stadium for the game against the Cowboys. He'll get to visit with his former Giants coaches (including, most important to him, tight ends coach Mike Pope, who now is on the Cowboys' staff). He'll get to watch his first NFL game in person as a fan.
But this trip isn't about saying hello to the Giants. It's about saying goodbye.
"I left in such a hurry,'' Boss said from his home in Bend, Oregon. "That free- agency summer was such a frenzy and hectic. I was getting close to re-signing with New York and Oakland called and I was gone within a matter of hours. My head was still spinning on the airplane. I was like, 'What the heck just happened?'
"I'm looking forward to going back and having a little bit of closure,'' he continued. "It was such a rush getting out of there . . . It was such a crazy way to leave, I didn't really have that proper goodbye, proper closure. I'm kind of looking at [this visit] as getting a little bit of closure and moving on and getting that final chapter closed.''
Boss was a popular player with fans and players alike. He was a rookie on the 2007 Super Bowl team and eventually the full-time replacement for Jeremy Shockey. In four seasons, Boss caught 119 passes for 1,600 yards and 18 touchdowns.
The Raiders offered more money, though, in that summer of 2011 when free agency began in a whirlwind after the end of the lockout. He played only one year in Oakland after signing a four-year, $16-million contract, with half of that money guaranteed. In 2012, he signed with the Chiefs and played in two games before a final concussion forced him to stop playing.
"Looking back [the Giants] probably did the right thing not offering me a big deal because I had the concussion history, and that was what ended me,'' Boss said.
These days Boss is coaching high school football and basketball in Oregon (he's on the same football coaching staff as former NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe) and is the director of strength and conditioning at Bend Hoops, a basketball training facility. "Doing what I know, doing what I love,'' he said.
This will be Boss' first trip back to this area with his wife, Bree. They have two sons, ages 2 and 5 months. But even though he lives on the other side of the country, Boss said he still feels like a part of the Giants' family.
"Spending four years there, it makes me now consider that home,'' he said. "That's the team that we're going to raise our boys to be fans of. Giants fans.''
On Sunday night, Boss will be one of them, too, in attendance at the game, rooting for his team. Closing one door and opening another.