OPINION: Justin Tuck Deserves Ring Of Honor Nod
He was never a flashy player. He never hung up big numbers either.
Justin Tuck just made big plays, in the biggest of moments.
OPINION: Justin Tuck Deserves Ring Of Honor Nod
The New York Giants announced Tuesday that Tuck will join Tom Coughlin and former General Manager Eddie Accorsi as the 2016 entrants into the Giants’ Ring of Honor.
Tuck, Coughlin and Accorsi make 42 individuals in New York’s team Hall of Fame, with a ceremony slated for halftime of the Giants game with the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night, Nov. 14.
Coughlin’s induction is a no-brainer.
He led the G-men to two Super Bowl victories, including one of the biggest upsets in the history of sport, when his team defeated the 18-0 New England Patriots in 2007 to capture the Super Bowl XLII crown.
“It was a great privilege to be the 16th head coach of the New York Giants, and it’s a privilege and a tremendous honor to be a part of those great names in Giant folklore that are in the Ring of Honor,” Coughlin said. “ The New York Giants, to me, is the greatest franchise in the history of the NFL. We recognize the long history of the Giants and the greatest city in the world, the tremendous coaches and players that have represented the Giants over the years. It’s a great honor to be included in the same breath with some of these prestigious former players and coaches.”
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Accorsi engineered those two titles by drafting Eli Manning, Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, among others, but he wasn’t around to celebrate.
The former assistant to George Young left New York in 2006 having built a team that won two NFC East Titles, made the postseason four times and won the NFC Conference championship in 2000 before losing Super Bowl XXXV to Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens.
Accorsi also drafted Tiki Barber, one of the greatest running backs in the history of the franchise.
“When you start working in the National Football League, this is not something you would ever dream could happen,” Accorsi said. “I’ve seen these in different stadiums, and when you see all the great players and coaches up there, it’s not something I ever thought could happen. I can’t even put into words what an honor it is, especially with this franchise.”
Coughlin and Accorsi pass everyone’s litmus test, but for some reason, Tuck is questioned as a candidate for the Giants ROH.
Morning show host, Craig Carton, of WFAN, believes that Tuck was overrated and does not belong in the pantheon of Giants greats, like Lawrence Taylor and Bill Parcells.
Carton is not alone, but that doesn’t make him right.
Whether people are willing to recognize it or not, Tuck was every bit their equal when the games mattered most.
In 2007, the Giants first Super Bowl run under Coughlin, Tuck registered 10 sacks in the regular season, 4.5 of which came against divisional opponents. The Notre Dame alum only posted two forced fumbles that year, but both came against the NFC East.
Then Tuck sacked Tom Brady twice in Super Bowl XLII and forced another fumble, propelling New York’s defense to one of the most storied performances on that side of the ball in NFL history, limiting a 50-touchdown quarterback to 14 points.
Four years later, Tuck was hampered by a series of injuries, causing the defensive lineman to miss four regular season games, a catalyst to his, pedestrian, 5.0 sacks for the regular season.
But again, when the bright lights flickered on, Tuck reasserted his dominance, collecting 1.5 sacks in the 2011 NFC Championship win over the San Francisco 49ers to go with two more sacks of Brady in the Super Bowl XLVI win.
Eli Manning will always be remembered for the two game-winning drives he orchestrated to beat the Patriots. Tuck should be remembered just as fondly for his four sacks in “America’s Game.”
Without Tuck’s play on the defensive side of the ball, Manning never gets a chance for a two-minute drill. David Tyree never gets the opportunity to make ‘Catch 42’ and Ahmad Bradshaw wouldn’t have to decide whether or not to score.
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Tuck made it all possible.
Of his 66.5 career sacks, 60.5 with New York, 29 came against NFC East opponents.
And keep in mind that by 2008, he was drawing double and triple teams, still managing four sacks in the Super Bowl.
Tuck is not a Hall of Fame player. His career does not warrant a yellow blazer.
But his name deserves a place among the greatest Giants ever to put on a Big Blue jersey.
That can’t be argued.
“It’s a great honor,” Tuck said. “Anytime something like this is bestowed upon a person, you have to consider all the other guys up there, all the people that have paved the way for a small-town kid like me to have the opportunity to be put up in the rafters by what I consider to be the greatest football franchise there is. I don’t think it’s dawned on me yet how big a deal it is, but I’m sure that night there will be some emotions that come out and be very visible. I’m very, very excited about it.”