New York Giants defensive lineman Justin Tuck has gone through two frustrating regular seasons in 2011 and 2012, amassing a total of 9.0 quarterback sacks after putting up 11.5 in his All-Pro season of 2010. Tuck did play the game of his life in the Giants' Super Bowl XLVI win over the New England Patriots at the end of the 2011 season, but more is expected of a man in the last year of a five-year, $30 million contract extension he signed in 2008. Giants general manager Jerry Reese recently said he had a conversation with Tuck about underperforming, and hoped that Tuck could "get back to his old form."
Tuck's held himself accountable about the whole thing, and to that end, he's found an unconventional way to try and get back on track. In March, he looked up well-known performance coach Tony Robbins, the best-selling author and successful motivational speaker who's perhaps best-known for his tactic of having people walk over hot coals to find a new level of potential.
"I realize I haven’t played my best the last two years," Tuck told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York. "Whether it be injuries or the circumstances surrounding this team. Who knows? I knew it was time for me to try something different. I've had people telling me to get my butt to Robbins for two to three years now. I finally said if I am going to be dedicated to my craft and to being the best that I can be, then this has to happen."
So, Tuck and his wife, Lauran, attended one of Robbins' "Feel the Power Within!" weekend seminars, and Robbins gave Tuck some advice about some things that may have been holding him back. Living up to the reputation of Michael Strahan as the Giants' main man on the defensive line is no small task, and if you don't approach it the right way, failure can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Robbins has worked with other notable athletes -- everyone from Wayne Gretsky to Serena Williams -- so he understands the surprising fragility of the athletic temperament.
Robbins to Youngmisuk:
"He’s a really responsible guy. He is not the kind of guy to swat that off. He feels it. He feels like he is responsible to carry things to some extent. So he fails and he’s down in that state of frustration and failure and then not feeling appreciated for what he doesn’t do. And all that gets in the way of just doing your job!"
"My expertise is the human psyche, which is the very thing that [fans] were complaining about with him. Being beat up by the very people that he wants to please was definitely a conflict for Justin. It is like, 'I can't win.' That [becomes the] mentality. This happens to many athletes."
Robbins, who says that Tuck's passion for the game is now "off the charts," believes that Tuck "won't have some story [excuse] about whether or not he is appreciated or whether or not things are going his way or whatever the case may be."
And yes, Tuck did the fire-walk -- 12 steps over hot coals that registered at around 2,00 degrees.
"This ain't no gimmick," Tuck said. "They were hot. You felt the heat. Even when you come off of them, they spray you down and your feet are smoking and you feel the heat."
After that, racking up another season with 10 sacks or more should seem fairly simple.