Veteran offensive lineman David Diehl announced his retirement from the NFL on Friday after playing 11 seasons with the New York Giants. Diehl started 16 games as a rookie in 2003, and played every season since. He manned every position along the line except center in front of nine different quarterbacks, though none more often than Eli Manning. Manning was Diehl's quarterback in 141 of 164 career appearances.
Diehl's appearances ties him with Phil Simms for the 12th-most in Giants history. Diehl accumulated 160 starts over his career, and for his efforts earned two Super Bowl Championship rings and a nod to the 2009 Pro Bowl.
Diehl said that his retirement was motivated, in part, by a desire to spend more time with his daughter, Addison, though she had encouraged him to keep playing when he considered hanging his cleats before the 2013 season:
"I love football," Diehl said. "I love being in the game, I love watching film, I love doing all of that and I'm going to miss that aspect of it. But I know I'm ready to start the new and next chapter of my life. I'm ready to not only be a bigger part of my daughter's life, but I'm ready to spread my knowledge and help other people with the game and continue to do stuff throughout our community and charity work and be involved with the New York Giants in any way possible.
"I've accomplished everything I could possibly dream of as a football player. If in 2003, anyone would have said that Dave Diehl, a fifth-round draft pick out of Illinois, would win two Super Bowls, play in the Pro Bowl and win every single Giant award possible, people would have said you're crazy. I have a lot to be proud of."
Diehl is the only Giants player who joined the team before Manning and head coach Tom Coughlin. He wasn't able to stay on the field often during his final seasons in the NFL due to injuries, however. He started 120 straight regular season games to begin his career before suffering a torn hamstring and partially dislocated hip in 2010. Diehl started 16 games the next season, but then made just 24 appearances over the course of 2011 and 2012.
The Giants had to make due without Diehl several times this season, though there's no question that the absence of his versatility will be difficult to replace going forward, not to mention the outsized personality and leadership he brought to the New York locker room.