New Jersey native David Tyree was a three-year letterman on the gridiron at Montclair High School in Montclair, New Jersey. The talented receiver was selected a Blue Chip Illustrated All-American his senior season.
Signing with Syracuse University, he amassed over 1,200 yards during his career, ranking in the top 15 on the school’s all-time list. For all of his exploits a wide out, Tyree was best known for his outstanding special teams play throughout his career. Selected in the sixth round of a 2003 NFL Draft by the New York Giants, he again made his mark on special teams, earning a Pro Bowl selection in 2005 and a first team All Pro honor the same season.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Tyree is best known for his heroics in Super Bowl XLII. After a five-yard touchdown reception from Eli Manning early in the game (his first score of the season), he made his mark in NFL history late in the fourth quarter. On a 3rd and 5 with just over a minute remaining and the Giants down 14-10, Manning scrambled to throw the ball 30 yards downfield to Tyree who, fully extended in the air, caught the ball by pinning it with his right hand to his helmet, completing one of the most incredible catches in Super Bowl history.
The Giants finished the drive with a score and won the game, beating the previously unbeaten Patriots. The “Helmet Catch” was selected by Sportscenter as the greatest play in Super Bowl history and eventually won the 2008 ESPY Award for Play of the Year.
After five years in New York, Tyree signed with the Baltimore Ravens in 2009 and subsequently retired a Giant, signing a one day contract with Big Blue on July 29th 2010.
In this exclusive interview with SC Daily, The Super Bowl hero talks about is favorite rookie cards, memorable fan reactions to his iconic catch and collecting cards with his dad.
Tony Reid– What has been the most memorable fan interaction you had during your NFL career?
David Tyree-The one that comes to my head, of course is connected to the helmet catch. I have a fan who was actually a friend of my cousin. I met her personally. She was elated, really happy and grateful. She shared her story that when the helmet catch happened she go so excited she jumped up on the table, broke the table and ended up tearing her Achilles. My goal to this point in my life has been to compile some of the wildest stores of where people were and what they did around the moment of the helmet catch. That is one I could never forget.
TR–Your rookie card appeared in a bunch of 2003 products like Bowman, Upper Deck and many others. What was the experience like when you first saw yourself on a trading card?
DT-It was a pretty surreal moment because I did grow up collecting cards. To grow up, I started with baseball in 1989 or 1990, looking at those Wade Boggs cards. At that point the quality of cards was begging to emerge in a neat way.
I had three to four years of really strong collections. We did sets. We did it all for a number of years then my dad really took the reins.
It was surreal seeing those first few cards rolling out. It was that Bowman Blue rookie card that showed me wearing number 15 that was the most memorable and neat card that I enjoy the most. The quality, the gloss was great. I remember doing some kind of autograph deal through the NFLPA. I don’t know where those went to or what products they ended up in. The fact that I could be a part of that and to see it come full circle, the experience for me was genuine and pretty awesome.
TR-You have to be in the one percent of one percent, in collecting as a kid, becoming a high level pro athlete and enjoying your very own cards.
DT– For me, it was sixth grade through the ninth grade and then it was my dad. As much as I enjoyed it I know my dad did and that meant the world to him. As far as relationship and phase of life and getting to that, it was a surreal, pinnace moment. They come and they come quick and they start getting in your mailbox. (Laughs) The allure goes away but it’s still amazing.
TR–In the database, it lists that you have 196 different cards. What are your thoughts when you hear that number and do you have a favorite over the years?
DT-Oh, wow. I wouldn’t be surprised if my dad has them all. The one that I would have to call my favorite, and it would be a close call, maybe a tie between that Blue Bowman and Upper Deck did a Masterpiece card with the helmet catch. I just enjoyed the artwork. It was a little grainy. Those are, off the top of my head, my favorites. Ultimately those are the two that stick out the most.
TR–I have a son who will be playing college football next year and I don’t think I can even wrap my mind around how special it would be to see him on a card someday. That had to be amazing for your dad. What is your relationship with him like today?
DT-It’s amazing. He is my biggest hero and my biggest supporter. It takes some time to realize how cool and sacred that moment was for us to share together. The cards are the sacred temple of my dad. He had a whole attic dedicated to it. He would build sets, break stuff down and get rid of scarp cards. He made a heck of a project out of it. It was only five years ago that he did it. It’s a big part of our lives. He is still into it. He works with me. We own a juice bar in Morristown. Every now and then his card guy pops into the store. He is still scratching that itch.