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The New York Giants held a retirement ceremony for former Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora on Wednesday. Umenyiora played for the Giants from 2003 until 2012 and was an important part of two NFL Championship teams with New York. Umenyiora played his last two seasons in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons. He chose to retire as a New York Giant by signing a 1-day contract with the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft.
“I played 10 years here,” said Umenyiora. “There was literally no doubt in my mind about what I wanted to do. Hindsight is 20/20. I think when it was time for me to leave and go to Atlanta, I was excited about it. But once I got there, I was like, ‘damn.’ You know? You miss everything, man. There’s nothing like being a New York Giant. And I wish some of the players here would truly understand that, because it’s easy to think one thing, but once you get the chance to go someplace else and experience something, you truly realize what family is. And New York is home for me. I would literally be on the plane coming back from games, and I loved my Atlanta teammates, don’t get me wrong. We would be watching games, we’d be watching the Giants. I would be openly cheering for the Giants in a plane full of Atlanta Falcons. They would be looking at me, ‘Is this guy out of his mind? What are you doing?’ I just couldn’t help myself. It was that Giant in me. So there was no doubt about when it was time for me to retire, I was going to come here.”
“Osi is one of my all-time favorite Giants,” General Manager Jerry Reese said. “Everyone was enamored with his speed, but he was a strong, physical player, as well, in his prime. I don’t think he got enough credit for that. Because he could also use speed to power on a guy. He’d start doing that speed stuff, but he’d turn it into power, and push a guy right back into the quarterback. I’ve seen him do that many, many times. And he played the run pretty well.”
“He was fun,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin about coaching Umenyiora. “He was a good guy. The one thing that probably went below the surface [was] what a job he did preparing. He studied those left tackles and he knew them – he knew the guy he was going against inside and out and that was really, I thought, the key to his success, that and the fact that he was very fast [and] very confident. When he stepped on the field, the guys around him knew that he was a very confident player, he was a master at his craft and that gave them great confidence, as well.”
“He is fun,” said former Giants teammate defensive end Michael Strahan. “I think about Osi, and I think about his smile. The most serious I ever saw him was right before the Super Bowl. For him, everything was a joke, everything was a laugh, everything was fun. I always laughed with him and he was truly my little brother. I tell people this all the time, on the field and off the field, he is somebody who is just like me. We both are Scorpios, we both thought the same. He and I would look at each other and we knew what the other was thinking. I’ve never had that with another player on the field. He was truly an extension of myself. I think that’s why we played well together, it’s why we get along. I love him to death.”
The transcript of Umenyiora’s full remarks at his retirement press conference is available at BigBlueInteractive.com. The video is available at Giants.com.
The Giants also created a video tribute to Umenyiora that is available at Giants.com.
Article on Former Giants DE Osi Umenyiora: D-Line greats talk Osi’s impact on the unit by Michael Eisen of Giants.com