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Eli Apple reaches out, impresses Justin Tuck

After New York took him in the first round last week, Eli Apple surprised retiring Giants defensive end Justin Tuck by calling the veteran for advice. AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Justin Tuck knew he was coming here Friday for his official retirement news conference, but the former New York Giants defensive end was surprised a few days earlier when the phone rang and it was Eli Apple, the Giants' first-round draft pick from last week.

"I normally don't give shout-outs to rookies, but I'm going to give one because he might be smarter than the education would normally lend him to be from Ohio State," Tuck, a proud Notre Dame alum, said of Apple. "A couple of days ago, the other Eli called me. And it was funny, because I look at the number and I was like, 'Who is this?' And he starts talking about how he wants to learn how to be successful in New York. Eli, you might be on to something."

Tuck said he planned to spend time around the Giants and to continue to be a resource for the team's young players. He was recently accepted into the MBA program at the Wharton School and plans to pursue a career in finance. But he also plans to be around the Giants and at their games this year, and he had a message to the rookies who are here at minicamp this weekend and who attended his news conference.

"Nothing is ever given to you," Tuck said. "You can be the strongest and the meanest and the best ever, but you always have to come in here and fight. I'm tired of what I've seen from the Giants the last three years. And I was a part of it because maybe I faltered in my way of being a better leader. But I am super excited about what's next. I am super excited about what I see from this young group of guys."

As for Apple specifically, Tuck said his message was simple on the phone.

"I told him to focus on football," Tuck said. "That's very generic about the conversation, but just focus on football. Being in New York can be overwhelming, especially for a guy that's named Eli. But just focus on his craft, and he'll be just fine. And this place embraces a winner, so go win."