Between an MBA program at the Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia, the summer internships in New York and attending to a family that includes two grade-school boys and, for a while, supporting his New York Rangers in the NHL playoffs, retired New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck is still finding time to scratch his philanthropic itch. The same versatility that allowed him to effectively rush the passer (from the edge or interior) and stop the run is now being applied toward a different set of responsibilities.
This Monday, Tuck will be working alongside current Giants long snapper Zak DeOssie and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey to raise money at the Newark Mentoring Movement golf outing at Bayonne Golf Club. It’s Tuck's sixth year of involvement, and nothing that a little internship will alter.
“I think it’s something that is really, really needed, so I’m cool putting my name behind it. And they’re doing great work,” Tuck said.
The Newark Mentoring Movement supports a network of 57 mentoring programs that collectively serve more than 4,000 youth in Newark. They consider themselves a “collective impact” or “backbone” organization in the community rather than a direct-service mentoring organization.
It aligns with much of what Tuck and his wife, Lauran, are doing. They have their own Tuck’s R.U.S.H for Literacy that was founded in 2008 and is still active. Calls also come in regularly about joining other education and youth-related causes, which more than intrigues the Tucks. Lauran is on the boards of four philanthropic organizations and is likely joining more. Justin also has philanthropy on his mind as he contemplates his professional future.
In the meantime, Tuck remains involved while attending school or handling his summer internship as he prepares for his post-playing career.
“People need to understand that we’ve been given a great platform to create change and be a difference-maker for people who might not have the same opportunity,” Tuck said. “I have two boys and I want them to have as much in this life in this world as they can. But I also want the same thing for other kids as well. I don’t believe my kids should be afforded the right to the greatest things in life and other kids should not be afforded them."
So they make sure to do something, and not just with their own program and foundation.
“It looks sometimes that we can’t make up our minds as far as what things we want to be involved with, but there are such great stuff out there and it’s hard to say no when organizations are doing a great job,” Tuck said.
The former Pro Bowl defensive end, who retired after the 2015 season, finished his last final exam on a recent Tuesday and began his internship two days later. He still has one year remaining at Wharton, but is spending time now in private equity and real estate, trying to learn more about the financial services field.
“Just trying to figure out what I can be passionate about for the rest of my life,” said Tuck, who noted he started preparing for this several years ago and is using the connections he made in the past to aid his future.
Fortunately, money isn’t his only driving force. Tuck did well financially as a player. He made more than $40 million in 11 NFL seasons, winning two Super Bowls with the Giants. At age 34, he is searching for what will keep him happy and fulfilled in life after football.
It’s imperative to Tuck that whatever the future holds, it allows him to live a healthy and balanced family life. He wants to take his sons to school and be present for their activities. He wants to continue being involved in the philanthropic programs that have become part of their family mission.
Tuck's own education and the demands of everyday life have actually limited his ability to do face-to-face work with children, compared to what he was able to do during his playing career. But the hope is that will change after he finishes his final year at Wharton.
The response from events such as Monday’s golf outing, where he will have the opportunity to interact directly with kids from several local schools, is what it is all about. It’s why he wants to get back to it, and remains involved in this specific event and others that are similar.
“I’ll always remember kids being super surprised that there are people out there that actually care. ... What we probably get the biggest kick out of is having these kids super-excited about a change. That yeah, they do have an option,” Tuck said. “It’s not what the news always reports. It’s not the drugs, the crime, the dropping out of school, all those things that get way too much play in our media these days. Yeah, I can go and be the first person in my family to graduate high school and college. I can be a professional in finance or education or whatever it may.
“Programs like Newark Mentoring are paving the way for them to have opportunities.”
And people like Tuck are remaining involved to make it happen.