As expected Chris Snee retired from the New York Giants on Monday afternoon. With the Giants holding their first practice of training camp on Tuesday, the 32-year-old Snee will succumb to the realization that his body won't allow him to play an 11th NFL season.
"I know it's my time," Snee said Monday afternoon in a statement released by the team.
Thus ends the career of one of the best offensive linemen to ever play for the Giants. Snee went to four Pro Bowls, was named All Pro once and during the best years of his career was the best lineman on what might have been the best offensive line in franchise history.
Snee tried to make it back for one final season, but could not make it through OTAs before his body, beaten down by surgeries to both hips and one elbow, gave out."Before OTAs started I was confident," Snee said. "I was moving around great and I was strong enough where I felt that I could play and compete. But then once OTAs came around, I had to punch and stop somebody ... obviously, we're not wearing pads. I wasn't able to do it. Quite frankly, it hurt. But I thought maybe it was my joint getting used to that again. But the more I tried to do it, it became a concern to me that it wasn't responding the way it should and actually my (elbow) strength had started to go down in the weight room.
"After those three days of OTAs, my hips (both of which have undergone surgery) were hurting. I was concerned. The elbow is an old joint and the cartilage is gone and the bone is starting to weaken. That being said, I came and I spoke to (general manager) Jerry Reese after OTAs and kind of told him what was coming. He said, ‘Take your time and still continue to work out.' So I did that and my strength is still going down. That was an indication that I wasn't strong enough to play. And that's kind of what my game's been based upon. I take tremendous pride in the effort that I put in the weight room and being the strongest player on the field. I'm nowhere near that, so I knew that even if I came here today, I wouldn't be able to practice. You're trying to catch up and I've been trying to get my strength back, but I think it's time to just let the arm cool down.
"I'm thankful to the Giants for giving me this opportunity to try to come back, but I also told them, I told Jerry Reese face-to-face, that I would give him an honest evaluation and I'm a man of my word. I would not be able to help the team the way that I expect of myself or the way that they would expect of me."
How good was Snee at his best? A couple of tweets from Pro Football Focus give an indication:
From 2007-2013, Chris Snee was the best run blocking right guard with a Run Block Grade of +97.0— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) July 21, 2014
Snee, a second-round pick by the Giants in 2004, became a starter in the sixth game of his rookie season. He never looked back.
"I think Chris was everything you could ever hope for in a player: toughness, integrity, and a lot of pride," Giants president and chief executive officer John Mara said. "Winning mattered to him. I think he set a great example for all of the other players. He's somebody we're going to miss very much. He was one of the greatest offensive linemen in Giants history, and he'll be on that Ring of Honor someday."
"Chris is a pro's pro," general manager Jerry Reese said. "He played the game right. He was as tough and prideful as they come. We will miss him."
To his credit, and to that of coach Tom Coughlin, the fact that Snee is the coach's son-in-law never became an issue. Even by announcing his retirement, Snee is handling that situation well by not forcing Coughlin into the position of benching or cutting him.
"To me, he was the best guard in all of football," Coughlin said. "No doubt. No matter who you put him against, all of the great defensive tackles in the game, the 350 (pound) guys, the 340 guys, he blocked them. When he first came here, he was so, so committed and so driven to excel at the professional level as he had excelled at the collegiate level (at Boston College)."
Snee played only three games last season, succumbing to the need for surgeries to repair a torn labrum in his hip and a troublesome elbow. He took a $4 million pay cut to try and play for one more season, but could not make it through OTAs before the elbow forced him to the sidelines.
Back in 2009, Big Blue View readers voted Snee as part of the franchise's all-time team. It's hard to imagine that would change if the vote were held now. Snee figures to one day be a member of the franchise's Ring Of Honor.
The public goodbyes from teammates have already started:
"It's going to be weird," Snee said of no longer playing. "I bought season tickets a couple years ago. I don't think I'll be ready to sit in those seats just yet - but yeah, I'll be here. I still have some older friends remaining on the team and some of the young guys I've gotten to know. I'll be rooting for them."
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