This week’s Faith, Family, & Football feature is: Justin Tuck, Current New York Giant.
Justin is currently in his 8th NFL season with the New York Giants. He was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2005 draft and has emerged as one of the NFL’s elite defensive ends. Justin has won two Super Bowls (2008, 2012) with the Giants and has been voted defensive team captain by his teammates for the past 3 years. His consistent play and high motor often put him in position to make several plays on the field, but it is his strong faith, family values, and kind heart that allow him to make plays in all aspects of his life.
Justin’s commitment to serving others inspired him to create the “R.U.S.H. for Literacy Program” which aspires to encourage children to Read, Understand, Succeed, and Hope as they continue to nurture literacy in their lives. Also, Justin has pledged $1000 for every sack he records to help New York and Central Alabama school systems.
Justin is a leader in the locker room, community, and in his faith. He shares many of the similar traits as our previously featured athletes in that he is humble, selfless, and dedicated to serving others while living out his faith.Justin was kind enough to take time out during his game week preparation and chat with NFLPE about his Faith, Family, & Football.
PE: Why is faith important to you?
Tuck: For me, it started with my upbringing. My mother and father raised us in the church. I know a lot of times you hear about people going to church every day, but I can honestly say that I went to church umm… just about EVERY DAY. It was this lifestyle of constant worship that was embedded at an early age. I truly believe that I have been blessed to have this platform as an NFL player in one of the biggest markets in America for a reason. That reason is to spread how good God has been to me and to let his light shine through me.
PE: You recently took on the role as leader of the Giants team bible study and helping mentor your younger teammates. What type of impact has that had on you personally and with your team dynamic?
Tuck: Last year our Chaplin, George McGovern, would lead our bible study and kind of allow us to interact in it, but this year he allowed me to take it on full time. I view it as an opportunity for me and my teammates to step away from football and have discussions about the Bible. We just try to tie the verses into our daily lives and discuss how we can apply what we learn to our everyday lives.
For our team dynamic, I feel that bible study serves as another way of helping guys stay faithful to God. In the locker room it can be very hard sometimes because you don’t always have guys that are necessarily living for God, so sometimes you need to see a face or hear a voice from guys that are trying to walk in that way. I think it’s been really beneficial for our locker room because it’s brought a lot of guys closer in their faith and closer to each other. It’s really helped us.
PE: Tell us about your family and the impact they’ve had on your life?
Tuck: I’ve been extremely blessed to have a family consisting of the people I have and I can honestly say that. I have 5 sisters and 1 brother and I’m blessed to say that all of us are saved and living for Christ. You hear these horror stories about guys who got to the league and gave their parents money or who had friends and extended family coming out of the woodworks asking for all sorts of money, but I’ve been fortunate enough to never have that.
My family has always instilled hard work and good values. My dad would never allow me to buy him a house or anything of that nature because he knows how hard you have to work to get to that point. He always taught us to be humble and remember that when much is given, much is required. He’s really challenged me with this because he knows the position that I am in and how far I’ve come. So the days that I feel like sitting on my butt, he still challenges me to get out and visit kids, give back to the community, and serve God.
We’ve always been raised to be givers and be humble about it. We don’t boast about anything because it’s not us that’s doing it. That’s the dynamic of my family. It started with my grandfather and grandmother… was instilled my father… and has trickled down through aunts, uncles, cousins, and my siblings. I think that in itself is a testimony to how our family dynamic is.
PE: How has your faith and family helped you develop off the field?
Tuck: Faith is tremendously important in my family and it’s been essential to my development. I went to Notre Dame which is a faith based school and that’s also where I met my wife. She’s tremendously faithful in her walk with God and I’m blessed to have found the woman of my dreams that shares my same values. Having a wife who loves God strengthens my walk and it’s a value that was passed down to me through my parents. Being in the NFL you see a lot of men coming from broken homes, or having dysfunctional marriages. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed to have parents that have been married for 40 years, so they serve as my role models and I look to them for advice when I have any type of issues.
My brother and my father are great fathers as well. Now that I have a son, I’m always bouncing questions off them to learn how I should react to certain things and different situations. We have a close knit family, and because of that we confide in each other.
PE: What advice would you give to student athletes and current professional athletes in regards to their faith, family, and football?
Tuck: I can make it very personal and say that when I started being recognized as an athlete, it was hard to prioritize my faith. I tried to play both sides of the fence. When I was around people that were Christians and followed Christ, I tried to act like them and put on a front. Then when I would get around guys that wanted to go out in the club and party I tried to put on that front. So, if I could offer any advice from the mistakes that I’ve made, I would say…Don’t try to fight it, and don’t try to impress everyone. Live your life the way that you know you’re supposed to, which is living for God.
Don’t worry about what people might say or think. I’ve realized that if you’re on one side of the fence people are going to talk about you, and if you’re on the other side of the fence people are going to talk about you. Either way you go, you’re not going to make everyone happy so you might as well do what you know is right. Be who you are and that’s good enough. There will be a lot of pressure that will come your way. However, I’ve found out that by being who you are, a child of God, you have the entire defense that you’ll need in life.
Justin discusses his faith on Sports Spectrum TV
Click here to read Yahoo! Sports article on “All In” spiritual challenge that helped ignite the Giants Super Bowl XLVI run.
Justin's Super Bowl Celebration Speech