Snee, 32, is having a hard time with his recovery from offseason elbow surgery and hasn't progressed physically to a point that would allow him to play an 11th NFL season.
"I felt worse by continuing to work out," Snee told ESPN's Josina Anderson on Monday. "I am nowhere near the level of strength that I usually have. That's been my game for 10 years, being one of the strongest players out there and using that to my advantage. If I don't have that, I wouldn't be able to do my job the way I expect, but also with what they expect of me.
"That's kind of what [general manager] Jerry [Reese] and I agreed upon in March when we decided to try this thing and see if I can come back. I told him that he had my word, that I would be honest with him, and I was. [Now] I've told him that my body has had enough. With the way last season ended, that's the last thing I wanted to experience again."
The Giants had hoped that Snee would be able to recover from his elbow surgery and the two hip surgeries he's had over the past two years. His inability to participate in the team's June minicamp raised concerns, but Snee said last month he believed he could get ready in time for training camp. That turned out not to be the case, and now the Giants will have to look at other options for their starting right guard.
The team signed veteran John Jerry, who gained some negative fame last year for his role in the Miami Dolphins' bullying scandal, in case Snee couldn't play. But Jerry himself missed OTAs and minicamp because of a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery, and although the Giants think he'll be ready for training camp, he's obviously behind in the new offense. Third-year guard Brandon Mosley, the team's fourth-round pick from the 2012 draft, took first-team snaps in Snee's place in minicamp and impressed coaches with the work he did. Mosley and Jerry could compete in camp for the starting right guard spot.
Snee was the Giants' second-round draft pick in 2004 and started 152 of a possible 158 games (postseason included) from 2004 to 2012, including Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. He missed the final 13 games of the 2013 season because of hip and elbow injuries. He is a surefire Ring of Honor candidate and makes a case as the best offensive lineman in Giants history.
"To me, he was the best guard in all of football," Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who is also Snee's father-in-law, said in a statement. "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]."
"Chris has been a great friend and a tremendous player for the last ten years," Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. "He wanted to continue to play football but his body would not allow it. I will miss his presence on the field and in the locker room. It has been an honor to be his teammate."
The Giants have possible replacements lined up, but it's hard to imagine any of them playing to the level of Snee in his prime.
Information from ESPN Senior NFL Analyst Chris Mortensen contributed to this report.