It is a play that will go down in history, that will be forever etched in the memories of football fans everywhere.
From amid a sea of defenders, Eli Manning launched a ball to David Tyree, who caught it—against his helmet.
This catch made Manning’s pass to Plaxico Burress for the game winning touchdown look easy.
Even before kickoff, the matchup between New York and New England presented compelling story lines as well as promising some great football.
On the one hand, there was the New England Patriots. They were coming off a historic, record breaking season in which they had gone 16-0, 18-0 after the playoff. They were (and still are) a team of marquee playmakers and proven winners.
On the other hand, and the opposite side of the spectrum, there was the New York Giants. They had struggled early on, losing their first two games in the regular season. The Giants were a workman’s team without flashy superstars.
The Patriots were led by Tom Brady, the proven champion with the winning smile and enviable lifestyle.
The Giants were led by Eli Manning, the goofy looking, tousle haired guy who was still overshadowed by his older brother.
New England was the heavy favorite to win Super Bowl XLII. New York hadn’t even been expected to win their first playoff game.
But the Giants shocked the world by pulling off a 17-14 win, largely in thanks to Tyree’s epic catch. Amid a shower of confetti, the 2007 New York Giants became instant heroes.
Yet flash forward about a season year. Look at the 2009-2010 roster and search for the names of the players that made the Super Championship possible.
You won’t find Michael Strahan, he retired after 2007. Nor will you find Amani Toomer, Plaxico Burress, or David Tyree.
Tyree was cut from the Giants after a disappointing preseason. Tyree also missed most of last season due to an injury.
From an outsiders, or a fans, standpoint, the move to cut Tyree is disappointing. Tyree’s catch in the Super Bowl not only won the Giants the game, it also won the franchise validation as a strong NFL team. Before that, Eli Manning wasn’t considered a top tier quarterback, and coach Tom Coughlin was under pressure to produce results.
For that one catch, David Tyree earned a permanent spot in the history of the Giants franchise. Consequently, it would seem logical that he would earn a permanent spot on the roster.
But that is not the way of the NFL. Results are what counts, and as Tyree hasn’t been pinning footballs to his helmet lately, he has found himself without a job.
Everyone knows that football is a man’s game, that the NFL doesn’t have sympathy for players whose production is falling off, so Tyree’s release shouldn’t be a surprise.
However, when you consider the fact that the Giants are heading into the 2009-10 season with some questions at receiver, it seems that Big Blue might want to hang on to the guy who can haul in a ball thrown high over his head against his helmet if Domenik Hixon struggles like he did toward the end of last season.
Of course, the reason the Giants aren’t settled at wide receiver is because they released Plaxico Burress, another Super Bowl hero. Though Tyree’s catch is the one that has become legendary, Burress got the game winning reception.
Since then, Burress has suffered from the Prima Donna WR syndrome that has been going around the league (see TO-itis and Chad Ochosickness for more details.) He was suspended several times by the team, and then finally released by the Giants following the November incident in which Burress shot himself in the leg.
No lenience was shown to Burress by the Giants or by the New York City courts. Burress will not be a New York Giant, nor will he avoid jail time.
Overall, this is the way it should be in the NFL. The most talented players should get the spots on the roster, and superstars should be held accountable for their behavior.
Still, the way Burress’ career as a Giant ended was disappointing to say the least, and to see Tyree cut feels almost ungrateful.
Both moves needed to be made, but it is a shame to see that Super Bowl XLII team dismantled.
This brings up another question.
Was that amazing victory against the Patriots the beginning of an Eli Manning dynasty in New York, or simply a moment in time where the stars aligned for the Giants, never to be repeated?
The Giants struggled badly toward the end of last season after Burress left. Nobody in the receiving corps stepped up the way Tyree did in the Super Bowl as the Giants lost badly to the Eagles in the playoffs 23-11.
Only time will tell if the Giants can repeat the Super Bowl magic of 2007-08, or if they will continue to struggle at WR.