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Justin Tuck proud of Giants' two Super Bowl wins over Patriots, but he's moved on with his life

Giants defensive end Justin Tuck celebrates after beating

Giants defensive end Justin Tuck celebrates after beating the New England Patriots, 17-14, in Super Bowl XLII at University of Phoenix Stadium on Feb. 3, 2008 in Glendale, Arizona. Credit: AP/Elaine Thompson

Sure, Justin Tuck said, Super Bowl XLII seems like ages ago. But for him, that feeling has not changed much since Feb. 7, 2008.

“It was a long time ago two days after the Super Bowl parade,” the former Giants defensive end said on Thursday during a break in his current job as a Goldman Sachs vice president focused on private wealth management.

As the previous sentence suggests, Tuck, 37, has gotten on with his life since last playing in 2015 for the Raiders.

That was his strategy from Day One, not only after he helped the Giants win Super Bowl XLII but four years later, when they did it again.

"Everything I try to do in life is to find ways to reinvent myself and do things maybe people didn’t think I should be doing or didn’t have the ability to do,” he said.

That being said, Tuck remains proud of what he and his colleagues achieved and understands fans’ ongoing attachment to those teams.

The next reminder will come at 3 p.m. Sunday when Fox replays the Giants’ 17-14 upset of the then-undefeated Patriots, part of its series of classic games to keep fans engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Giants will pitch in with second-screen enhancements on their Twitter feed -- #SBXLIIFLASHBACK -- that will include footage from David Tyree’s famously awful practice two days before the game, Tom Coughlin’s speech to the team on Saturday night and real-time commentary from select players on Sunday.

In a video to promote the replay, Fox play-by-play man Joe Buck calls that the most exciting football game he has called and shows off what he calls one of the few sports autographs he ever has sought.

It is a football signed by Eli Manning reading, “To Joe: What a night. Eli Manning, Super Bowl 42 MVP.”

Many argue that the real stars of that game were the Giants’ defensive linemen, who harassed Tom Brady and limited the Patriots’ powerful offense.

Tuck was among them. But he never has watched that game in its entirety and has no plans to do so Sunday, because it is his 12th wedding anniversary, and Easter.

Besides, he added, “I know how it ended . . . So probably not. Am I super-proud of that moment? Absolutely. But I’m weird like that.”

It’s all part of his looking-ahead mantra.

“If you look at the guy we beat, Tom Brady, you don’t see him thinking about the six rings he’s got; he’s thinking about the seventh that he hopes he gets,” Tuck said. “That’s how I’ve always looked at it. People ask me why I don’t wear my rings and I tell them I’ve got eight other fingers that are very upset with me when I wear two rings.

“I don’t want people to read that and say, ‘Oh, Justin’s not thankful.’ No, that ain’t what I mean by that. But I’ve always been a competitor and I’ve always wanted to stay at the top.”

Not only would he like to see this generation of Giants win it all, he wants them to win three or four times “and set all of that [we did] in the back window. I think that’s what the '86 and '90 teams wanted from us. That’s what all the teams that came after them wanted. They wanted us to continue to win.”

Tuck hopes new coach Joe Judge can turn things around but is pragmatic about how long that might take.

“I think it’s unrealistic to think with a new coach that everything is going to be peaches and cream; that’s not going to happen,” he said. “I just want to see progress. I don’t think Giants fans and Giants former players have seen enough years of progress. We’ve been losing for a lot of years now.

“I’m not saying Joe Judge has to win a Super Bowl in his first two years. Would that be nice? Hell, yeah, that would be nice. But I think we all just want to see them get back to being a playoff-caliber team every year.”

Tuck remains close to Manning, the quarterback who twice beat Brady in the Super Bowl and who retired in January after 16 seasons, all with the Giants.

“It was in Eli fashion,” Tuck said. “I was sorry I couldn’t make it. I was out of town on business, but obviously I tuned in and watched it. For everybody who’s come to know anything about Eli, it was definitely how I would think he would go out.”

Tuck is on several different group text chains with former teammates and said he speaks weekly to Steve Weatherford, a punter on the Super Bowl XLVI team.

“We obviously have a special bond considering what we were able to accomplish,” he said.

For now, like many, he has been working from home, spending quality time with his family, including children ages 10 and 6, and appreciating “what’s important and what’s not and how we have kind of gotten away from the simple things in life.”

So where are those two Super Bowl rings? Tuck paused and pondered the question for a few seconds.

“They are in a drawer in my bedroom,” he said. “It’s not really a special place. But I know where they are.”

Brady the Buc

As for his old foil Brady moving from the Patriots to the Buccaneers approaching his 43rd birthday, Tuck said, “I wouldn’t bet against him. Obviously, he had a few teams to pick from. He went to Tampa for a reason.”

Tuck cited the talent already there and the additions that might be lured by the chance to play with Brady. Still, he said he was “somewhat” surprised that Brady was willing to don a new uniform after two decades.

“Just because in today’s society players mostly think about legacy, especially when they’re a future Hall of Famer like him,” Tuck said. “People have dubbed some type of special awning around playing for one team that long and being that successful for one team.

“But obviously he wanted to try something different, try something new. He’s a guy who is always going to continue to challenge himself, and you have to admire him for that.”

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