Offensive lineman Chris Snee made his retirement official today in what was a bittersweet parting with the only pro team he’s known since he was the Giants’ second-round draft pick in 2004.
“I know it’s my time,” Snee said.
The decision to retire after 10 seasons wasn’t an easy one for the 32-year-old Snee, who has battled injury issues the last two seasons.
While he was initially optimistic that he’d be able to return for an 11thh and likely final season, Snee said he realized during OTAs that his body just wouldn’t allow him to compete at the high level he expected of himself.
“Before OTAs started I was confident,” Snee said in a statement released by the team. “I was moving around great and I was strong enough where I felt that I could play and compete. But then once OTAs came around, I had to punch and stop somebody … obviously, we’re not wearing pads. I wasn’t able to do it. Quite frankly, it hurt. But I thought maybe it was my joint getting used to that again. But the more I tried to do it, it became a concern to me that it wasn’t responding the way it should and actually my (elbow) strength had started to go down in the weight room.”
Things unfortunately didn’t get better for Snee.
“After those three days of OTAs, my hips (both of which have undergone surgery) were hurting. I was concerned. The elbow is an old joint and the cartilage is gone and the bone is starting to weaken. That being said, I came and I spoke to (general manager) Jerry Reese after OTAs and kind of told him what was coming. He said, ‘Take your time and still continue to work out.’
“So I did that and my strength is still going down. That was an indication that I wasn’t strong enough to play. And that’s kind of what my game’s been based upon. I take tremendous pride in the effort that I put in the weight room and being the strongest player on the field. I’m nowhere near that, so I knew that even if I came here today, I wouldn’t be able to practice. You’re trying to catch up and I’ve been trying to get my strength back, but I think it’s time to just let the arm cool down.”
Snee informed head coach Tom Coughlin, who’s also his father-in-law, of his plans on Saturday.
“To me, he was the best guard in all of football,” Coughlin said. “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).”
Snee, who helped the Giants win Super Bowls XLII and XLVI, was also a four-time Pro Bowler and an All-Pro. A day-one starter, he started all 141 regular-season games
Snee also started 101 consecutive games before being forced to miss his first NFL game
While Snee could have opted to buy more time by spending it on the PUP list, he kept a vow he made to the team to let them know where he was at by the start of camp.
“I’m thankful to the Giants for giving me this opportunity to try to come back, but I told Jerry Reese face-to-face, that I would give him an honest evaluation and I’m a man of my word,” Snee said. “I would not be able to help the team the way that I expect of myself or the way that they would expect of me.”
For Coughlin, who has seen players retire almost every year of his head coaching career, Snee’s decision was particularly difficult given Snee’s relationship to the coach’s family.
“It’s different,” Coughlin said, “because not only is it a great football player retiring from the game, who has contributed so much to our team and our franchise and has two world championships to show for it, he is a highly-respected and loved member of our family.”
While Snee had hoped to go out on his own terms after this year, he said he was proud to have come so far, from his early days playing ball in Montrose, Pa., to becoming part of a world championship.
As for what he’ll do now, Snee, the father of three young sons, said he hopes to stay close to the Giants organization.
“I bought season tickets a couple years ago,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll be ready to sit in those seats just yet–but yeah, I’ll be here. I still have some older friends remaining on the team and some of the young guys I’ve gotten to know. I’ll be rooting for them.”