Giants offensive lineman Nate Solder is entering his age-33 season. But no play, game or season is more important to him than his family.
Last year, Solder opted out to be present for his wife Lexi, daughter Charlie and sons Hudson and Emerson. Hudson has been undergoing treatment for kidney cancer since he was an infant.
“I’ll say this. I had the opportunity to sacrifice my career for something far greater and I will never question that or regret it,” Solder said Wednesday after practice. “All of us in the NFL are trying to be the best we can be, trying to be a part of a good team, trying to make money.
“But I learned it all comes secondary to having a strong, healthy family. My family needs me more than anything. The New York Giants are going to have a left tackle. They are going to have someone in my position. But my family needs me as dad, as husband, so that is my first, primary, critical role.”
At one point during the COVID-19 pandemic, Emerson was born, Hudson was going through chemotherapy and Charlie was getting her tonsils out. Solder — a testicular cancer survivor himself — said he had no complaints about his busy life, but noted the last year has been “a tough time.”
Nonetheless, things are improving for the two-time nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award and his family. Hudson’s hair is growing back and doctors are monitoring his tumors with routine scans every three months. And on the field, Solder is excited for the challenge that lies ahead.
When the Giants made Solder the league’s highest-paid offensive lineman in 2018, they envisioned he would be their left tackle of the future. However, Solder, who had his deal reworked this offseason, could now be moving to the right side this year after the emergence of 2020 fourth-overall pick Andrew Thomas.
“I think they have structured it so they have some young guys who have a lot of potential and me with experience,” Solder said. “I am totally open to whatever the team needs.”
There have been challenges — Solder noted he is still adapting to new “play calling, names of plays, names of our run blocks and pass blocks and techniques” — but like he has done throughout his life, Solder is ready to overcome them.
Because that is what he does.