Justin Tuck is one of the most gifted football players to ever pass through Penn. Ironically, however, he was only at Penn as a graduate student, never playing for the Red and Blue.
His story begins in Kellyton, Ala., a small town approximately 60 miles southeast of Birmingham. Tuck grew up playing football and basketball in a house filled with six sisters and a town full of his family. He recalled always preferring basketball over football, staying out late during the summer to play with his friends and cousins.
It was in seventh grade that he began playing football. Tuck started as a quarterback but quickly changed to play both tight end and linebacker in his first two years of high school. The eventual Super Bowl-winning defensive end did not start playing in his ultimate position until his third year of high school.
As Tuck continually grew and improved his game, his recruitment as an undergraduate to Notre Dame came by accident. Tuck recalled in an earlier interview that a group of scouts became confused with the naming of various “central” high schools in Alabama, and eventually stumbled upon his team practicing. Rather than continuing to search for their original destination in Tuscaloosa, they stayed to watch Tuck.
Tuck recalls not originally being sold on Notre Dame during his first visits and wanting to play for his then-favorite, Auburn. However, he eventually attended and stayed at Notre Dame, breaking numerous records. Although he played only three seasons (the first of which he only played 180 minutes), Tuck became and remains the program’s all-time leader in total sacks. He also still holds the record for most sacks in a game and most sacks in a season.
His record-breaking performances propelled Tuck to the draft conversation. Originally projected as a late first-round pick, Tuck fell into the mid-third round. He was eventually selected by the New York Giants with the 74th pick, which was considered one of the biggest steals in the draft.
Tuck continued his success on the field, becoming a defensive anchor for the Giants. Although he started slowly in his first two seasons, Tuck had a breakout year in 2007, logging 10 sacks and two forced fumbles. His strong 2007 play on defense helped the Giants to win the Super Bowl, where he notably forced a fumble against an undefeated Patriots team. Tuck continued his strong play, notching 12 sacks in 2008 and 11.5 sacks in 2010 in his two Pro Bowl seasons.
As he became the rock of the Giants' formidable line, Tuck looked towards another Super Bowl in 2012. Although he logged half as many sacks as in his 2007 season, Tuck’s defense found the team in the Super Bowl again. His two sacks in Super Bowl XLVI lifted the Giants to another Super Bowl win against the New England Patriots.
Following two more strong seasons with the Giants, Tuck signed with the Oakland Raiders. He continued to play football in 2014 but was eventually injured early in 2015 which led to his retirement. Tuck signed a one-day contract after the season to retire as a Giant, officially leaving the professional game after 11 seasons.
After an incredible career on the field, Tuck looked to his professional career. Graduating with an undergraduate degree in business, a Wharton MBA was a natural step. Graduating in 2018, Tuck began work at Goldman Sachs, where he is currently a vice president. Overall, his work on and off the field has led Tuck to achieve not only two Super Bowl rings, but also a budding career in the world of finance.
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