Augusta’s Deon Grant, a football champion in every way, retired from the National Football League on Wednesday.
The former Josey star concluded a playing career that included a Super Bowl title with the New York Giants during the 2011 season, which was the last season he played in the NFL. Grant, 34, also won a state title at Josey in 1995 and then won a national championship at Tennessee in the 1998 season.
Though he didn’t play in the NFL during the 2012 season, Grant got to retire as a Giant.
“I want to retire as a Giant because I want to be a Giant for the rest of my life,” Grant said in a news release from the team.
He played for the Giants for two seasons after previously playing for the Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars and the Seattle Seahawks. Grant finished his NFL career with more than 700 combined tackles, 30 interceptions and 6.5 sacks.
His final game ended memorably, with him and some teammates getting in front of a desperate New England Patriots pass on the final play of Super Bowl XLVI.
“I understood the game a lot more at that stage,” Grant said. “When I went to the Super Bowl in Carolina (in 2003) I was so young, I was really – I’m not going to say taking it serious. But I was battling a hip injury, a (potential) career-ending injury and every year that went by I was just trying to last another year. But once I got to the point that I was at when I got to the Giants, I was a lot more comfortable. I knew how to enjoy the game instead of just taking it play-by-play or day-by-day. I really knew what to look forward to and I knew what my main focus and my main goal was.”
Grant entered the NFL following a successful career at Tennessee, where he recorded an interception against Florida during the 1998 campaign. He made nine interceptions his junior year in 1999, adding 69 tackles. He left for the NFL and was selected in the second round by the Carolina Panthers.
After a hip injury sidelined him for what would have been his rookie season, Grant returned in 2001 to pick off five passes.
In high school, Grant helped Josey go 15-0 in 1995. Late in the title game against Cedar Shoals, Grant intercepted a pass to preserve a 13-6 win.
Grant still often returns to the Augusta area, with one trip bringing him to Josey-Laney basketball games less than a week after the Super Bowl win.
And The Augusta Chronicle’s All-Area player of the year is named in Grant’s honor.