Even though former Giants center Shaun O'Hara hadn't stepped onto an NFL field since 2010, he hadn't officially retired, so the three-time Pro Bowler returned to the team facility on Monday to punctuate his remarkable 11-year career.
“I've been dreading this day my entire career,” O'Hara's speech began. “Admitting to myself as well as publicly that my body can no longer keep up with the demands of being a professional athlete.”
O'Hara's 2010 season was cut short by injury and he was released following the 2011 NFL lockout (he was the Giants union representative). But while he did receive some interest from the Miami Dolphins as a free agent, he couldn't find a home.
“I had been training all last season,” O'Hara said. “I knew I wasn't going to play once the season started, once it was Week 4 I knew it wasn't going to happen. I trained in February and March and into the spring so if someone called I could at least give them an honest answer. I wasn't offered anything that was appealing.”
O'Hara, who began his career as an undrafted free agent with the Cleveland Browns in 2000, thanked his wife Amy -- a nurse he met while being treated for a leg infection -- his parents, coaches, trainers and just about everyone else he could think of, but his best anecdotes were about his former Giants teammates.
The Rutgers alum said he missed quarterback Eli Manning's “big hands” and thanked equipment manager Ed Skiba, who helped him changed out of his sweaty pants at halftime “just to keep Eli happy.”
O'Hara also took time to thank the Mara and Tisch families, particularly the late Wellington Mara who, O'Hara said, once personally thanked him for playing hurt in a game in 2004.
And of course, O'Hara thanked Giants coach Tom Coughlin, with whom he won a Super Bowl title in February of 2008.
“Coach Coughlin, you have taught me so much about leadership and the concept of team and how to be successful, not just in football, but also in life,” O'Hara said. “My clocks will forever be five minutes fast and I know the importance of winning the turnover battle at home.”
O'Hara recently became a professional football analyst for a cable network.
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