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Justin Tuck @ Teen Central on "Home Field Advantage"

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Justin Tuck, who plays football for the New York Giants, is one of the top defensive linemen in the game and actually one of my favorite players. It's been a rough, injury plagued year for him on the football field, but the release of a children's book he wrote called Home-Field Advantage, illustrated by Leonardo Rodriguez, is one of the all-star moves he made this fall.

At Grand Central Library's Teen Cental, beginning on February 27, 2012 (Mondays at 4 p.m.), we are embarking on an eight-week Digital Communication Arts workshop, at which in addition to working on a few group digital projects, teens will be creating individual entries to compete in the Lights Camera Read/Teen Central writing/arts/community service contest.

As a New York Giant fanatic (or according to my wife, Berserk Maniac), I enjoyed the role I played in sharing Tuck's book with a group of young people at Teen Central. We watched an interview that Yianni Stamas of Lights Camera Read filmed and conducted at one of Tuck's book presentations at Barnes & Noble. The defensive lineman spoke to teens about his book and offered some advice in regards to them entering the Lights Camera Read contest. In reaction, several teens read Tuck's book and offered their thoughts.

Tuck grew up with five sisters. Two of them were twins, and as he put it — "They were two years ahead of me. We were always in competition: what show to watch on TV, who would get the last piece of chicken, and on and on. This book is about how they tricked me into believing they were good barbers and they weren't."

"The message I was trying to get across is we all go through obstacles. We all go through things that can kind of propel you or hold you back. It's a funny way of looking at it, but I credit my sisters for making me as tough as I am. A lot of people ask me why I play football. I tell them I had five sisters."

Tuck told an amusing story about how their sibling rivalries still continue. "When I let my sisters know I was writing a story, they were like, 'That ain't how it happened. This is what happened: You wanted us to cut your hair.' They said all types of stuff, but the way I wrote it is the way it happened."

When asked what type of advice he had for young adults entering the Lights Camera Read contest, he said, "Be true to yourself. Don't be afraid to step out on a limb. In my lifetime, I've done things that people didn't expect me to do. Don't allow others to negatively downplay your story. Just make sure you believe in yourself, because a lot of times great stories are lost because someone talks somebody out of it. Don't let obstacles stop you from achieving. The people that you hear of are the people that fight through and allow those obstacles to make them stronger."

Teens' Feedback For Justin

Jessica — When I first started reading the book, it was really an explanation of how you turned your life experiences into what led to your success. Home life gave you an advantage in life. They were tough but in the end, they were family and you love them.

John — I can actually see children, even adults, finding the story... how you say? Like it brings back memories of how they were when they were younger.

Joseph — A sibling will always be a sibling. You could be best friends in any way possible, because no matter how it's going to turn [out], you're always going to be family.

Valentina — I think it should be in the Library, as it will catch the children's attention, because most children grow up in a family where they are attracted to the New York Giants. So they can enjoy the story and maybe change their minds about how they view things.

Jessica — I do think this book should be in the public library because I can imagine one of the librarians reading this book to little children during story time. I think it's something that the kids would like listening to. I do think a child would find it funny, and the illustrations in the book are quite well done, and I think kids would be captivated by that and really like the story.

Martin — My reaction to the book is it's really related to my past. I have a sister who is 28 right now. She pushed me around, but she wasn't really making fun of me. What she was doing was toughening me up and making me a gentleman. After reading this book I feel... inspired.

The playoffs look like a rough road ahead this year, but hopefully Tuck and the Giants can do it on the football field this Sunday against Atlanta. If they win, the games after that — Greenbay and San Francisco, or New Orleans — seem a lot tougher, if not insurmountable.

On the other hand, if Tuck was able to deal with those five sisters, who knows what's possible?

P.S. From the Berserk Maniac — After watching the New York Giants, led by Tuck, dismantle — or should I say completely beat down — the Atlanta Falcons and the Green Bay Packers, I can now predict with total confidence a heaven-and-earth-shaking outcome of Superbowl 2012. NY Giants 37 — Denver Broncos  Baltimore Ravens New England Patriots — and you heard it here first!

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