He was, John Mara said, "the quintessential Giant."
Chris Snee, the most decorated offensive lineman the team has had in the last half- century and a core member of two Super Bowl-winning teams, announced his retirement with an emotional news conference Monday after 10 seasons with the franchise.
"It's kind of been sitting in me for a while," the 32-year-old guard said of the decision, which he first told the Giants about on Saturday. "You know it's coming, but until it comes out of your mouth, it doesn't sound . . . I never thought I could get those words out."
The news cast a bit of a pall on the day the Giants players reported to training camp, usually a time of great excitement and anticipation.
"This one is tough," said Mara, the Giants' co-owner. "I said to him earlier that you are everything we could ask for as a player, not only on the field but off the field as well . . . He's everything you want in a New York Giant."
Tom Coughlin had special insight into that personality, and not only as Snee's only head coach in the NFL. Snee married Coughlin's daughter, Kate, and is the father of three of Coughlin's grandsons.
Coughlin said he routinely is asked what it's like to coach his son-in-law.
"The question always has an edge to it, as if it's something they want to hear me say is something that is difficult," he said. "Please, please Lord. I'll take a hundred of him. If there are 53, I will take 53 of him . . .
"He has done everything that you want in a man and in a football player. You may say you're not very objective about this. I'm not pleading my case for objectivity right now, I'm just telling you the quality of the man is greater than the quality and the ability of the football player, and that's as good as it gets."
While the news on Snee was sad, it wasn't surprising. Coughlin said he had been "bracing" for it, and when Snee showed up in his office on Saturday, he knew what it was about.
Eli Manning said he, too, knew what the conversation was going to reveal when Snee called him Sunday to tell him his plans.
Snee had been mulling retirement since the end of the 2012 season, and when he was placed on injured reserve after three games last year with a hip injury, he thought his career was over. But he wanted to play one more year, and he had elbow surgery in December to prepare for that.
It was the elbow that ultimately did him in. He could not generate the kind of upper-body strength that he felt he needed to play at a level that met his own standards.
"I gave it everything I had," Snee said. "When I watch the tape, as a player, a competitor, you have to be proud of what you're seeing. I just knew that it wouldn't happen. It's time, but I do want the fans to know that I tried everything I could to come back and give them one more season."
Snee was named to four Pro Bowl teams and was an All-Pro three times, making the first team once.
His departure leaves Manning as the only starter from the Super Bowl XLII team (long-snapper Zak DeOssie and defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, who was on injured reserve in 2007, also were on that team). It also leaves the Giants' offensive line without any starters from the Super Bowl XLVI win just 21/2 years ago.
Snee will remain in the area. He hopes to get into coaching on the high school level. And he purchased Giants season tickets several years ago that he now will get to use.
Mara told Snee on Monday that he will have a bigger presence at MetLife Stadium than just his seats. Mara said Snee will be named to the team's Ring of Honor once a date can be squared away.
It's pretty rare for the team to bestow that kind of tribute on a player on the very day that he retires.
"It doesn't happen very often," Mara said, "but you don't get very many Chris Snees."