Whatever Happened to Antonio Pierce, the Defensive Heart of the New York Giants?
Players like Antonio Pierce — enthusiastic, devoted, and smart — are why the New York Giants were constantly making the playoffs in the 2000s.
An impressive linebacker who began his career in Washington, Pierce partnered with Michael Strahan to turn the Giants’ defense into an elite unit.
Over a decade after he played his final down for the New York Giants, where is Antonio Pierce now?
Antonio Pierce played 10 NFL seasons
Although he had a productive career at Arizona, Antonio Pierce went undrafted in the 2001 NFL draft.
Concerns about his size (6 feet, 1 foot) scared teams from taking a chance on Pierce. The only team willing to bite was the Washington Redskins, who signed Pierce as a rookie free agent. Pierce played in all 16 games as a rookie and started eight.
After he didn’t play much over the next two years, Pierce broke out in 2004 with 114 tackles, a sack, five pass breakups, two interceptions, a forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries.
Tom Coughlin and the New York Giants promptly signed Pierce to start at middle linebacker.
Pierce had his most success with the New York Giants
From 2005-09, Antonio Pierce perfectly embodied the smash-mouth but intelligent football brand that Tom Coughlin wanted the New York Giants to play.
Pierce racked up 491 tackles, seven sacks, four interceptions, forced six fumbles, and recovered another seven in those five years. Pierce earned Pro Bowl honors for the first and only time in 2006.
New York made the postseason in four of Pierce’s first five seasons. After he missed the first outing, a 23-0 loss to Jake Delhomme and the Carolina Panthers, Pierce never missed another playoff game.
Pierce totaled 25 tackles and a pass breakup in the 2007-08 playoffs. Eleven of those tackles came in the Giants’ 17-14 upset of Tom Brady and the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl 42.
A neck injury limited Pierce to just nine games in 2009. The Giants cut him after the season and Pierce retired that summer, a few months before he turned 32.
Antonio Pierce now coaches at Arizona State
Like many of his former teammates, including running back Tiki Barber, Antonio Pierce joined the broadcasting industry upon retiring.
Pierce spent a few years working at ESPN. In 2014, he became the head coach at Long Beach Polytechnic High School (Calif.), a national powerhouse.
Pierce went 35-11 in four seasons with the Jackrabbits. Fifty-two of Pierce’s players signed college scholarships, according to the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
Pierce resigned after the 2017 season to take a job at Arizona State under Herm Edwards. Pierce served two years as the Sun Devils’ linebackers coach and received a promotion to co-defensive coordinator in February 2020.
The other co-defensive coordinator is another familiar face for NFL fans: former Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. Interestingly, Lewis was Pierce’s defensive coordinator in Washington in 2002.
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