Our guest writer, and my co-host of “The Blue and Green Review” seen here on Tuesday nights at 7 Eastern, Miss Kristine Reese was kind enough to cover The Thurman Munson Awards and file this report:
On Tuesday night, the 33rd annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner was held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. The Thurman Munson Award recognizes athletes for excellence on the field and philanthropic efforts off the field, and this year’s honorees included Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia, Mets first baseman Ike Davis, Olympic Gold medalist Aly Raisman, former New York Knick Greg Anthony and now former Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty, among others.
Canty, who is as well known for his character and intellect as he is for being a part of the Giants’ famous four-man front, was honored with the award for his work with his foundation, aptly named “The Chris Canty Foundation,” which focuses on giving back to the community by enhancing the development and lives of youth through mentoring, education programs, and health and fitness activities. Canty’s foundation also raised money for Hurricane Sandy relief and donated holiday meals to those in need.
“Growing up in the Bronx in the shadow of Yankee stadium, you hear all the stories about the former captain Thurman Munson,“ Canty explained at the media portion of Tuesday’s event. “Standing here today, to be honored in that way, it’s all surreal to me.”
“The work I do in the community, for the kids, is a passion of mine. For people to recognize the quality of that work, to speak about the work and being of service to the community and just being in the same breath as Thurman Munson, the AHRC and the work they are doing, it’s an honor.”
At the event, Canty spoke candidly about the inspiration behind his philanthropy: his mother, who instilled at a very early age the importance of service, quoting Mark 10:44, which reads, “The son of man came to serve not to be served.”
Canty also noted that he views his service to the community and others as a responsibility and an obligation, another valuable lesson taught by his mother. In fact, the word responsibility was an adjective used by many of the evening’s honorees, including Knicks legend and YES Network analyst Greg Anthony.
Also present at the Awards was Canty’s brother Joseph, who is the President, Chairman and co-founder of the Chris Canty Foundation. In addition to dedicating himself to running the foundation, Joseph partners with a variety of charitable organizations supporting youth in New York City and Charlotte, NC, where he currently resides.
While the purpose of the event was to honor’s Canty’s foundation and his many contributions to the community off the field, there were plenty of questions for the defensive lineman about his and his team’s performance on the field, including difficult questions about the recent release of veteran linebacker Michael Boley, who had just been cut from the team a few short hours prior.
Canty was unaware of Boley’s release at the time of the interview and his visible emotional reaction to the loss of a close teammate and friend was difficult to watch.
“That’s some tough news,” Canty said, reacting to the Boley release. “Not only was he a good teammate, he was a good friend. He and I go way back, since before the scars. Me and Boley, we’ve know each other a long time. He’s a good person. He’s a good teammate, good friend.”
Less than 24 hours after the Thurman Munson Awards, Canty, along with several other Giants including running back Ahmad Bradshaw, was released as part of a major off-season salary cap purge. While it was widely speculated that the Giants would make several difficult cuts to get under the NFL’s projected $121.8 salary cap, few would have expected that the four-year veteran, who was major part of the Giants 2012 Super Bowl Championship, would be one of the victims.
Canty, who shared that he is “feeling healthy” after suffering through several injuries this season, had two years left of his contract at the time of his release. The cut saves the team $6.5 million off the cap.
Canty revealed on Tuesday night that he had not been approached by the team about his contract – something he disclosed he wasn’t concerned about – and he planned to stay in New York for remainder of his deal, which is likely part of the reason that, in an interview with ESPN Radio on Wednesday afternoon, Canty revealed he did not have any “inkling” he was going to released and that he was “a little disappointed in what took place, but it’s a business.”
Salary cap issues aside, Canty did admit that changes to the defensive line “are necessary” and the unit – and the football team as a whole – did not perform up to potential this past season. He did add the team “has a plan” for the off-season but any details he was aware of would stay “in house.”
While Canty will no longer be a part of those plans, Canty’s versatility as a lineman could draw a lot of interest from other teams this offseason.
Tuesday night’s Thurman Munson Awards were about honoring philanthropy and service, but they were also a reminder of just how difficult and fleeting the business of football can be, making the importance of Canty’s work and the focus on something other than just the National Football League that much more significant.
Canty will always be remembered for his contributions to the Giants Super Bowl Championship, but perhaps more importantly, as he continues to make his mark on the entire Tri-State area with his service, he will be remembered and celebrated for much more.
Proceeds for the Thurman Munson Award dinner benefit AHRC New York City, which helps support programs for children, teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
You can learn more about Canty’s foundation by visiting ChrisCantyFoundation.org.
Kristine Reese is the NFL editor and lead New York Jets writer for Aerys Sports, the only online sports network run entirely by women. She is the co-host of “The Blue and Green Review” and one of five hosts on the fan-run web show “Flight 5 Live.” Her work, which ranges from sports, adventure to travel and pop culture, has been featured in various digital publications, including NJ.com and Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Academy.” For more information, follow on Twitter @KristineReese or visit www.KristineReese.com.