Former New York Giants defensive end Dave Tollefson was never a star player, but he was a key x-factor along the defensive line and on special teams for the team during both recent Super Bowl runs. That’s why, after two seasons away from the franchise, Tollefson decided to retire as a member of Big Blue on Friday.
“I wanted to make sure Tom knew and the Maras and Tisches knew how much it meant to me,” Tollefson told Giants.com. “They gave me the shot. If it wasn’t for what they did for me, who knows where I’d be now. I have three kids (including his third son, who is due in April) and a wife that I love. To be able to provide for them is something that I couldn’t even imagine in my wildest dreams as far as the way we live our lives. I’m indebted to coach and the Maras and the Tisches for doing that for me.”
Tollefson arrived in New York during his second NFL season after failing to make the roster in Green Bay (who drafted him in the seventh round of the 2006 Draft) and Oakland (where he spent two stints in the now-defunct NFL Europa for them). He slowly worked his way toward more playing time, and grew to have much respect for Giants head coach Tom Coughlin.
“To say that I was already grown up when coach Coughlin got ahold of me is not quite right,” he said. “The relationship that he and I had meant a lot to me, because I felt he was always honest with you, which I really liked. I always felt like he was a father figure and I really took to heart how he felt about the way I played football and the type of person I was.”
During his five-year stint in New York, he tallied 81 tackles and 10 sacks. He became a major contributor on defense during his final season with the Giants in 2011, when he recorded a career-high five sacks as part of Big Blue’s lethal “NASCAR” defense.
Tollefson left the Giants as a free agent following the 2011 season and reunited with the Raiders in Oakland. He became a free agent again following the 2012 season, however, he wound up going unsigned and spent the 2013 season as such.
With surgeries looming, age mounting and his third child on the way, Tollefson believes now is a better time than any to hang up the cleats and move on with his life. He has some sorting out to do with his future, but for now, he’s happy playing “Mr. Mom,” as he told Giants.com.