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Former New York Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas has announced his retirement from the NFL. Thomas was originally drafted in the second-round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Giants. The 30-year old Thomas played four seasons with the Giants (2008-2010 and 2013) but missed the 2011 and 2012 seasons after tearing and then re-tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee before each season, the first time in a preseason game and the second time in a training camp practice. Thomas had also torn the right ACL in college.
Thomas returned to play for the Giants in 2013, playing in all 16 games with seven starts, finishing the season with 67 tackles, one sack, seven pass defenses, one interception, and one forced fumble. However, the Giants chose not to re-sign him as an unrestricted free agent during the 2014 offseason. He signed with the Seattle Seahawks in July but did not make the team.
Thomas finished his NFL career by playing in 60 regular-season games with 40 starts with the Giants. He accrued 298 tackles, three sacks, 45 pass defenses, 12 interceptions, and seven forced fumbles during that time frame.
“Terrell was smart and tough and a very good player,” said General Manager Jerry Reese in the team’s press release. “He quickly became a ‘pro’s pro’ during his time with the Giants.”
“Terrell was a very unique defensive corner,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “He had outstanding cover skills, he was physical and would tackle and you could blitz him from the outside. He was a very smart player and devoted to the game. He took great pride in being a physical corner, and frankly, before the injuries, we thought we had a very good corner for a long time.”
“I had no idea (the last game I would play would be on December 29, 2013 as a New York Giant),” Thomas said. “I thought I had two more years. I thought I was about to be a top free agent and continue my career for two more years and show God’s grace. But He had a different plan for me.
“I thought I was going to have an active free agency. The number one thing was the doctors would not approve my knee. Every team, G.M., coaches, they loved me and wanted me, and thought I had a great year after coming back from all the ACL injuries. They thought that I would be better last year. But the doctors wouldn’t approve me.
“Knowing the game of football, being 29 with three ACL (injuries), I just figured my time is short. I can keep chasing a dream, but I was blessed to be able to come back and play that one year. To be able to show my family and fans, my daughter and myself that I worked hard enough to overcome some significant injuries and I became the second player in NFL history to come back from three ACLs. I didn’t play with a brace. I am proud of my accomplishments. I have been through a lot and I overcame it. I am a smart dude and I am not going to chase football. Football is not chasing me. I feel like my time is over. I was blessed enough to play six years in the NFL. I lived my dream, and now it is time for the next chapter of my life.
“(The injuries) hopefully (are) not going to haunt me til my days end, but that is just life. That is probably the hardest part that I had to deal with, that I was on the verge of being a very great player. The Giants, coach (former Cornerbacks Coach Peter) Giunta, coach (Safeties Coach David) Merritt, (former Defensive Coordinator) Perry Fewell, and Tom Coughlin really instilled confidence in me and made me believe in myself and really brought out the best of me as a football player. I just felt like I left something out there. I felt that I had a lot to prove for myself and the organization. I am so thankful for the opportunity that they gave me. When I realized the time was over, I always wanted to retire a Giant. Once you are a Giant, you are always a Giant. I was just so grateful for the organization, for one, drafting me and for two, sticking with and believing in me all those years. Because if I was with any other organization, I don’t think I would have had the chance to come back in 2013.
“What means the most to me about my time with the Giants is the man I became. Growing up a California kid and moving all the way to New York, 3,000 miles away, and coming to an organization with so much class and integrity and having a head coach who really taught me about morals and values and being a man of your word, I will never forget that. Being five minutes early and how important it is, and how you come to work and the preparation that you put in is what you get out. We had some great coaches there, some great years. I won a Super Bowl. My first year, I was an NFC East champion. I led the team in tackles. I had some really great years in New York. I learned a lot about myself. Just being a Giant. I had some great teammates.
“The biggest thing is what the organization taught me. Coach Coughlin taught me about integrity and doing what you say you are going to do. It goes a long way in life, and I think that has really prepared me for my next chapter in life. That is why I am so honored to retire a Giant, more importantly, why I wanted to. I felt like I owed them something, and I am just thankful for the opportunity they allowed me. It was a tough decision that I had to make, but I just feel that it was the right one. I realized that I was lucky enough to play six years and lucky enough to come back after two ACLs and a micro-fracture when everyone doubted me, and even when I doubted myself. I am thankful for the opportunity the Giants gave me. I am thankful that I can walk away healthy and say I accomplished some things. I feel like God has something else for me that is way more important than football, and I am really looking forward to that.”