ALAMEDA -- Khalil Mack knows the look.

It could be a problem with the rookie linebacker's footwork, or that he didn't use his hands properly to disengage from a blocker. It's at that point that Raiders defensive end Justin Tuck will step in, the same way Michael Strahan did for Tuck nine seasons ago.

Mack, the No. 5 pick in May's NFL draft, drinks it all in.

"He'll give me that nod, and it's like, 'OK, what did I do this time?,' " Mack said. "J.T. is one of the best in the game and a cool person to be around. You learn a lot just by being around him."

Tuck, 31, is an avid reader who promotes literacy for school children, but it goes beyond a fondness for books. He reads people, reads situations and is fascinated to see how a story unfolds.

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Andre Holmes (18) left, and teammate defensive end Justin Tuck (91) celebrate as they walk to the bench after the Raiders
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Andre Holmes (18) left, and teammate defensive end Justin Tuck (91) celebrate as they walk to the bench after the Raiders took the lead in the fourth quarter of their preseason NFL game at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. The Raiders went on to win the game 27-26. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group) ( Doug Duran )

The tale started in Kellyton, Alabama, (population 217), continued with big-time college football at Notre Dame and eventually led to starring role in the Big Apple where Tuck became a two-time Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants.

Tuck will be back at MetLife Stadium on Sunday when the Raiders open the regular season against the New York Jets.

"There will be some history, some memories, but we're playing the Jets and not the Giants, so it's just an away game for me," Tuck said.

A self-professed "old soul," Tuck gravitated toward veterans as a young player with the Giants and understands that younger players are now gravitating toward him.


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"I can see it, and it's humbling to know that," Tuck said. "I still remember walking into the locker room my rookie year and watching Michael Strahan as a person of influence and watching how he handled things.

"For someone like Khalil Mack, I want to make sure I do my due diligence to make sure he understands what this game can do for him and he gets the best of this game the way Strahan did for me."

Raiders defensive tackle Stacy McGee, in his second season out of Oklahoma, has paid close attention.

"You're playing alongside one of the greats of the game, learning about tendencies and all the things he's seen," McGee said. "He's got so much to share with us, and not just about football, but about life. And he's very humble and approachable."

Middle linebacker Nick Roach said, "Justin has such a strong influence he can pull other players along with him.'

As detailed in an E:60 feature on ESPN, Tuck ended up at Notre Dame purely by accident. Two recruiters in the area to scout another player ended up at a gas station after taking a wrong turn. When told the recruiters were in town to look at a linebacker, the attendant assumed they were talking about Tuck and directed them to Central Coosa County High.

Tuck, a tight end, defensive end and linebacker, had a big game and was offered a scholarship that night.

After starring at Notre Dame and leaving as the all-time leader in sacks with 241/2, Tuck lasted until the third round because of a persistent knee injury. His nine seasons with the Giants included 601/2 sacks and coming up huge in Super Bowl wins over the New England Patriots after the 2007 and 2011 seasons with two sacks in each game.

Despite 11 sacks last season, the Giants made no serious effort to sign Tuck for a 10th season, and the Raiders reeled him in with a two-year deal worth $11 million.

"You've been in one place nine years, and you know what to expect," Tuck said. "Now I don't know what to expect. We're going into our first game. I don't know how certain guys will respond to adversities or successes. It's all fresh. It keeps you on your toes and it's exciting."

Tuck has instituted MMA training with his usual fitness regimen and firmly believes that "age is a number." Coach Dennis Allen said, "He can still play at a high level and is primed for a very good year."

In New York, Tuck and his wife, Lauran, founded RUSH to Literacy (Read, Understand, Succeed, Hope) to promote literacy among school children. Tuck made personal appearances at schools in New York, New Jersey and Alabama and donated more than 50,000 books.

The program is being continued in Oakland, with Tuck finalizing plans for his first appearance at a local school.

In 2011, Tuck authored a children's book called "Home Field Advantage" that included humorous accounts of his youth in Kellyton, growing up as the youngest of seven children -- including five older sisters.

Tuck said he's working on a second book that in a way mirrors his NFL career.

"I've written most of it, but I'm not finished with it yet," Tuck said.

SUNDAY'S GAME

Raiders
at N.Y. Jets,
10 a.m. CBS