Sterling Shepard ready to embrace potential final game with Giants

When the Giants complete their final game of the 2023-24 season against the Eagles this Sunday, it could also be the end of a beloved player’s career.

Sterling Shepard was drafted by the Giants in the second round of the 2016 draft and gave Big Blue five productive years before suffering two season-ending injuries that derailed his time in New York.

But as Shepard and the Giants head into the final game of their seasons, the 30-year-old wideout has come to terms with the reality of his situation.

“It is what it is. I think this point in time comes for everybody at some point throughout their career,” Shepard told the media after Wednesday’s practice. “I just look at how blessed I’ve been to be in the same spot for eight years, it’s been a blessing.”

In eight seasons (89 games) with the Giants, Shepard has amassed 4,077 receiving yards on 369 receptions and 23 touchdowns. This year, the ball hasn’t come his way that often. In 14 games, Shepard has seven receptions (17 targets) for 39 yards and a touchdown.

Head coach Brian Daboll was asked Wednesday whether he’ll give Shepard more of a run with Sunday potentially being the wideout’s final game. The second-year coach was non-committal but said Shepard will be ready for when his number is called.

“I’m not even worried about that, to be honest,” Shepard said of his expectations. “What really means a lot to me is being in the huddle with the guys, being in the locker room with the guys before, running out the tunnel with the guys. That’s what means more to me than an actual play or anything of that nature.”

It’s that camaraderie and selflessness that has made Shepard an invaluable part of the Giants’ locker room, even when he hasn’t been a big part of the offense. In fact, the Oklahoma product hopes that will be his legacy once his career is done, which he admits could be this Sunday.

“What all I’ve brought to my teammates around me. That’s the legacy that I would like to leave,” Shepard said. “I want guys to say that I’m their favorite teammate, you know what I mean? I do this for them and that’s what it has always been about for me.”

Shepard doesn’t rule out a potential career in coaching after he hangs up his cleats, but a conversation with his family will likely determine what his next move will be. He’s an unrestricted free agent after this season and while he didn’t get to capture a Super Bowl with the Giants, he has nothing but great things to say about his time in the NFL.

“It’s been great from top to bottom,” he said. “I know not everybody has that (former Giants defensive end Michael) Strahan story, leaving with a ring on their finger and having some good seasons behind them but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and I’m very appreciative of this organization and all they have done for me, my family. I mean, it’s truly a blessing, man.”