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Tuck Honored by M.A.N.


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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - How excited was Justin Tuckrelatedicon.gif to be honored this week by M.A.N (Minority Athletes Networking Etc., Inc.)?


“For me, it’s more gratifying than sacking Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, it’s more gratifying than beating up on the Dallas Cowboys,” Tuck said.


That qualifies as: very excited. And with good reason. M.A.N, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, is dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk, inner city youth. The organization was founded by former Giants George Martin and Ron Johnson. Hall of Famer Harry Carson soon joined and has been a driving force in the organization for two decades. Martin’s son Aaron is now M.A.N’s executive director.


In addition to Tuck, M.A.N. honored Giants president John Mara as its Humanitarian of the Year. The award was particularly meaningful to Mara, because he has long been a strong supporter of the Giants’ community relation efforts. To see marquee players like Martin, Johnson and Carson continue those efforts long after their retirement is very rewarding for Mara.


“It’s always been a particular source of pride for me and for my family that the founders of M.A.N. are all former Giants,” Mara said. “It’s something we’ve always tried to stress to our players, the importance of community service. Many of them take it to heart and they respond very favorably. But these three individuals have taken community service to a new level and they’ve set quite a standard for our players to follow.


“Our community relations efforts at the Giants really took off when George and Harry were active players and they started visiting sick children at Hackensack Hospital. And that ended up leading to the formation of the Tomorrows Children’s Fund. That was one of the things that caused us to realize we really needed to organize our community relations efforts. So today we now have a staff of about 500 people, I think, that do nothing but community relations work and we’re involved in so many different causes (actually, it’s about five, but they seemingly do the work of 500). But all the credit really goes back to people like George Martin and Harry Carson, who showed us how to do this and showed us that we really need to organize our efforts, and I’ll always be indebted to them for that.”


M.A.N. helps youngsters through a wide range of programs in public and parochial schools, correctional facilities and juvenile detention centers. The organization also helps serve holiday meals at senior citizen centers, acquires toys for underprivileged kids and sponsors mentoring programs for students of all ages.


Tuck has literally and figuratively picked up the torch once lit by Martin and Carson. Few current Giants are as active in the community as Tuck, who played in his first Pro Bowl following his 12-sack 2008 season.


Working closely with his wife, Lauran, Tuck established the R.U.S.H. program that aspires to encourage children to Read, Understand, Succeed and Hope as they continue to nurture literacy in their lives. He donated $1,000 for each of his 2008 sacks to help the school systems in New York and in Central Alabama, where he grew up. Tuck co-hosted a toy drive during the holiday season and the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Ronald McDonald House and the Starlight Starbright Foundation are among the many organizations he supports.


“When you have guys like George Martin and Harry Carson that have done it on both levels – being an athlete and playing for the Giants and now with their community service efforts - they really paved the way for a young guy like me,” Tuck said. “For me, it’s very easy for me to come out and do the things I do, because I’ve had so many great role models and people who were in the forefront before I even thought about playing football.”


Tuck said the message that he should immerse himself in the community was first delivered to him many years ago.


“I think it’s something that was instilled in me from my parents,” Tuck said. “If I had the opportunity, I’d definitely give back to those less fortunate than me. It’s something that my wife and I are very passionate about. It’s not just me. I know I’m the one getting honored tonight, but she does more than I do. It’s something that I always grew up around and knew that it was something that I wanted to do. The recognition is good because it gets your work out there and gets more people helping to come aboard and be involved with it. But that’s not the reason why we do it.”


Tuck also credited Mara for setting an example for the entire organization to emulate.


“Being a New York Giant and playing for the best organization in football, it starts with him and it trickles down through everybody – our coaches, our strength staff, our public relations staff – everybody,” Tuck said. “It’s an infectious environment being a part of this organization. It’s a pleasure for me to do this stuff because the people who’ve come before me laid the foundation – it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t do it, too.


“To be honored with Mr. Mara is special in its own right.”


On that, they can both agree.


It sure is nice to see how the tradition of community service has continued.

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