David Tyree: The "Forgotten" Hero Returns

Pro Football NYCSenior Writer IJune 4, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03:  Wide receiver David Tyree #85 of the New York Giants reacts after the Giants defeated the New England Patriots 17-14 during Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)


There are few times when Giants GM Jerry Reese reveals his poker face. This past spring, after the Giants released Plaxico Burress and cut ties with Amani Toomer, that face was showing.

The Giants needed a receiver, or two, or three. The fans became frantic, and the media fed into that panic creating a frenzy.

Reese decided to solve his problem with overkill. He went to the draft table in April and grabbed as many highly touted receivers he could get his hands on. Hakeem Nicks, the one with the magic hands; Ramses Barden, the towering, Plaxico-like scoring machine; and Travis Beckum, an explosive tight end.

Before the draft, Reese's team had no veteran receiver on its roster. His starters were  Domenik Hixon, a mid-season free agent pickup and slot receiver Steve Smith, who are both capable players but hardly the caliber that instill fear in opponents.

The other receivers on his roster were two high draft picks who have yet to make their mark: Mario Manningham and Sinorice Moss.

But, upon further perusing there was one other receiver on the roster: 29-year-old David Tyree. Yes, the same David Tyree who made the greatest reception in franchise and Super Bowl history. He missed all of 2008 with a knee injury. He is now back and he is healthy.

That leads to this question: what are Giants going to do with all of these receivers?

My answer: let the rest of the NFL figure that out. Tyree is wandering around the Giants' new facility in basic anonymity. That is, unless you're one those young receivers. They all look to him for guidance. Tyree has assumed the role of elder statesman, so to speak—a role he openly admits he never expected.

Of all the players on the roster, G Rich Seubert has been with the Giants the longest (nine seasons). Tyree, Osi Umenyiora, David Diehl and Jeff Feagles are the only other pre-Tom Coughlin Giants still with the club.

Tyree does not let his tenure do his talking. He is genuinely excited about returning to action. He stated in a recent interview that he "was having fun" in his new leadership role, citing he learned a lot from Toomer and planned to use his experience and knowledge to help the younger players.

He claims they will need little motivation.

"These guys are hearing that they're not good enough," said Tyree. He went on to intimate that the group was determined to change the public's perception of them. He himself has been looking sharp in drills. According to my colleague Pat Triana of insidefootball.com, Tyree "was back working and had no limitations whatsoever."

With all these new faces, the roster math has begun to work against Tyree. He may be the longest serving WR on the club, but his name does not appear high on any offensive depth chart that I've seen. Only on special teams, where he is a Pro Bowl level talent, are the Giants considering placing him.

If you follow the Giants and Tyree's career you know he'll end up making a play on offense somewhere, somehow and sometime this year. And you know it will be in a big spot, too.

No situation is too adverse for this man. He's overcome so much in his life and his career that he will not go away that easily. When the chips are down, it is Tyree the Giants turn to make a play. In the fourth quarter of games he suddenly appears on the offense. He usually comes through, too. He's kind of a secret weapon of sorts.

Right now, he's enjoying his low-key comeback. When asked if people recognize him in the street, he smiled and said, "Not really. Thank God for the helmet. They know the guy who made the catch, but they don't know David Tyree."

But the Giants and their fans haven't forgotten. They are just like Eli Manning after Super Bowl XLII when he said, "David Tyree. That's all you gotta know— David Tyree."