New York Giants wide receiver and special teams star David Tyree is best known for his iconic “helmet catch” in Super Bowl XLII. The amazing grab led to a last minute score over the then undefeated New England Patriots and capped off a Super Bowl win for the Giants.
Tyree spent half a decade in Giants blue, earning Pro Bowl and All Pro honors in 2008.
Last week, we chatted with him about his career and what led to him making one of the most memorable plays in Super bowl history.
In this new installment of Card Back Q&A, we flip over a few of his more memorable football cards and ask him about some of what’s written on the backs. We touch on his San Francisco 49ers fandom, his offensive skill set with a defensive mentality and, of course, his famous grab.
TR-Your 2003 Bowman rookie card mentioned that you grew up a fan of the San Francisco 49ers even though you’re only minutes away from Giants Stadium. What drew you to the Niners as a kid?
DT-I was an 80s baby. I got caught up in the lure of the Golden Dome. There were so many amazing athletes on the team–Jerry Rice, I remember them all. I remember Tom Rathman, Brent Jones, the high knees of Roger Craig. It was too much to overcome. I had an intense hatred for the Giants when they hurt Joe Montana. The moment they drafted me it became an immediate love affair. We were good. I still got love for the Niners deep down but its Big Blue all day.
TR–On the back of your Topps Chrome rookie card there is a quote from your Montclair High School coach Ed Lebida that states “He’s a wide receiver with a defensive mentality.” How did those two mindsets mesh so well for you over the years?
DT-They did. I really enjoyed football. A lot of players were two way players. I have an aggressive nature to the game. The physical side of the game is what actually drew me to it. The wide receivers are known to have more finesse. My game was a lot more gritty, detailed and aggressive. I played with an edge. When you are special teams player you are fishing for scraps. That carried right over to my approach as a wide receiver. I had capitalize on every opportunity because opportunities were few ar far between.
TR-Your 2006 Topps total card has a few key points I’d like to ask you about. Firstly, it mentions your 2008 Pro Bowl selection as a special teamer. How special was it to receive that honor?
DT-I really was. When you get in to the National Football League you expect to be the best and when you are finally crowned as the best at something, it’s something that very few people get a chance to say, even if it is only once. I feel like I earned a few more than that but to finally say I was the best in the world at what I do is special. I certainly had goals and ambitions as a receiver but I knew why I got drafted and where I was going to make hay. To be named the best special teamer in the league was special.
TR– Secondly, it mentioned you resigning to a lengthy contract and that you’re in the Giants long term plans. How great did it feel to re-up with the Giants and have that long term opportunity?
DT– It was very special. A contract, at the end of the day, is an indication that you are wanted, that you are part of the puzzle of the team moving forward. When you get that opportunity, at the time it was a priority for them and that is exactly what it felt like. To be at home, being a Jersey boy, have that kind of success early on and then re-up and be a part of the long term plans was a good feeling. It was a good ride and I wish it lasted a little longer but it was good while it lasted.
TR- The back of your 2008 Score card states “If not for Tyree, the Giants don’t win the Super Bowl XLII. His beyond comprehension catch during the team’s game winning drive set up the winning touchdown.” Looking back now how does it feel to be such an important piece of Super Bowl and NFL history?
DT-I fully embrace it. For me, it was a gift from God. You know you are fully a part of something but you also know it was bigger than you. That was always my mindset. You know as much as you work your tail off, hard work doesn’t get you a moment like this. It was chosen for you. I treasure it. I try to share it as much as I can. Everybody loves that good old David and Goliath story, I just happened to be David. It’s something I embrace to be in the conversation but no just the conversation, to be in the narrative of NFL history is something that most people would trade a ten year NFL career for. I feel like I have had success at every level in a way where I can walk away from the game satisfied. It’s amazing.