Jeff Feagles retired from the NFL on Friday, ending a 22-year career that saw him never miss a single game with his five teams.
“I’ve taken my last swing,” said Feagles, who was the NFL’s oldest active player at 44. “Today is the start of a new chapter of my life — a chapter that will bring happiness and also opportunity — an opportunity to spend time with (wife) Michelle and the boys (his four sons), a chance to coach and attend my sons’ games and activities. One lesson that I have learned from playing football in the National Football League is that it takes a toll on your body. And eventually it tells you that you can’t do it any more. And that day is today.”
Although Feagles initially re-signed with the team earlier in the offseason and was considering a 23rd season, his body told him otherwise. Prior to the draft, Feagles told Giants head coach Tom Coughlin he thought he had come to the end of his run. The Giants drafted East Carolina P Matt Dodge in Round Seven.
“This is a day in which we recognize, in my opinion, one of the greatest Giants of all time,” said Coughlin, who preceded Feagles at the podium. “It is a happy day because I think everybody in the organization is happy for Jeff and his family. It is a sad day because I walked around this morning and I listened to a lot of people in our organization. And their thoughts were that Jeff would be here forever. I think that is the way, honestly, we all feel.”
Feagles won a Super Bowl with the team and was a two-time Pro Bowler. He played under eight head coaches and through three NFL commissioners and five presidential administrations.
Only three players ever played longer — George Blanda (26 seasons), Morten Andersen (25) and Gary Anderson (23). His 352 consecutive regular-season games is an NFL record. “It is an incredible, incredible accomplishment,” Coughlin said.
Feagles also owns the NFL records for most punts (1,713, or 312 more than No. 2 Sean Landeta), most punt yards (71,211, or 10,504 more than Landeta) and most punts inside the 20 (554, or 173 more than Landeta).
He leaves the game regarded as one of the great directional punters of all time.
“It is not easy, because when I first started to come into the NFL there was really no directional punting,” Feagles said. “It took me a good six or seven years to learn how to do it — and that is in games. And going out there and trying to put the ball where you want to under extreme circumstances with 10 or 11 guys coming at you.”
His teammates, coaches and members of management came out to support him on his day of honor.
“Feags has been one of the greatest teammates you could ask for,” quarterback Eli Manning said. “He’s a guy who’s great to be around. He’s been in the league forever. He’s a true professional about his business, about having fun and keeping the locker room loose. He’s been a great roommate at training camp and my locker mate here (at the Timex Performance Center).”
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