New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck told the New York Post he contemplated retiring at "several points" last season, admitting that multiple injuries and off-field issues seriously weighed on him.
Tuck missed four games last season while battling injuries to his neck, shoulder, groin and toe. He recorded five sacks, his lowest total in six seasons, and has stated publicly that 2011 was the most painful season of his career.
"I contemplated (retiring)," Tuck told the Post. "But, I think that was just me feeling sorry for myself for a little bit there."
Tuck acknowledged that he was affected by his injuries, as well as the deaths of his grandfather and uncle, according to the newspaper.
"After the hardships of last year, I did some soul-searching, and really had to ask myself if this is what I want," Tuck said during his exclusive interview with the Post.
"Obviously, I'm back, and I just feel kind of refreshed mentally. I think a lot of things were weighing on me last year where I couldn't necessarily be my normal self on and off the football field. I've kind of put those things in the past now and moved forward."
Tuck told the paper that his wife helped talk him out of retiring at the age of 28. He also cited a well-documented conversation with Giants coach Tom Coughlin that occurred about a month before the team's season-changing win over the New York Jets on Dec. 24.
"Honestly, just consulted a lot of my family and closest friends, and just realizing this is what I love to do, and I'm not ready to give it up, regardless of the hardships," Tuck told the Post. "I think for a little while, like I said, I felt sorry for myself because of the fact that I'm sitting here saying like, 'Why is all this happening to me?'
"I don't think I was thinking clearly. After winning the Super Bowl, getting away from football for a while allowed me just to think clearly."
Tuck overcame his injuries and was a key figure in the Giants' unlikely championship run. The two-time Pro Bowler recorded a sack in each of New York's final two regular-season games and also had 3½ sacks in the postseason, including two in the Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots.