David Tyree Tepidus Group Of Staten Island

February 5, 2012 by staff 

David Tyree Tepidus Group Of Staten Island, With the Super Bowl coming up this Sunday, now seems the perfect time to look back on former SU player David Tyree’s signature moment, “Catch 42,” one of the most talked-about receptions in Super Bowl history, which Tyree made to keep the Giants late-game drive alive against the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

Central New York Sports Magazine caught up to Tyree to talk about the catch and find out what he is doing now. Here is his story. The commercial opens with comic Tracy Morgan leading a group of fans on a tour of a spacious dining room at New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

About 30 seconds into the skit, the actor who gained fame on Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock stops and stuffs a hamburger into his mouth and pretends he is choking.

Former New York Giants tight end Howard Cross sprints over to perform the Heimlich Maneuver. The dislodged burger shoots across the room where former Giants and Syracuse University wide receiver David Tyree makes a leaping catch, pinning the projectile against his head.

The tour-goers cheer lustily. Tyree walks over to Morgan. “Your hamburger, Tracy,” he says calmly. The one-minute spoof, shot in mid-August to promote the opening of the new $1.4-billion football palace in the Jersey swamplands, is a take-off, of course, on the miraculous, pin-the-ball-against-the-helmet catch Tyree made three Februaries ago to propel the Giants to a monumental upset of the unbeaten New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

That “David Slays Goliath” reception made a household name of Tyree, earning him a permanent spot in sporting lore. Steve Sabol of NFL Films called Tyree’s catch of Eli Manning’s desperation heave following a Houdini-like scramble by the quarterback the greatest play in Super Bowl history. And Sabol should know, having shot and edited tens of thousands of miles of football film over the past five decades.

“It certainly opened up all sorts of doors for me,” says Tyree, bouncing his 2-year-old daughter, Sophia, on his knee in the family room of his Wayne, N.J. home.

The play, which goes by nicknames such as “Hail Manning,” “Flee and Tyree,” “David and Eliath” and “Catch 42,” spurred the publication of a Tyree autobiography titled “More Than Just a Catch,” appearances on Ellen DeGeneres and Jimmy Kimmel, countless autograph-show stops and robust sales of Giants jerseys with “Tyree” on the back.

As the taping of the recent commercial attests, the famous play has legs, and likely will continue to do so well beyond Tyree’s days. Much like Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard Round the World” and Franco Harris’ “Immaculate Reception,” it is a sports moment frozen in time.

“That is pretty cool when you think about it,” he says. “It’s something you dream about doing when you are a little kid, but the odds are so stacked against it ever happening.”

Rodney Harrison, the former Patriots All-Pro headhunter who did everything in his power to wrest the football from Tyree while the two descended to the turf, put the odds of that play succeeding at more than 10,000-to-1.

“Sometimes,” Harrison says, “you can’t explain what happens.”

Tyree, though, believes there is an explanation and it can be summed up in two words: Divine intervention.

“I know people think I’m crazy when I say that,” says the born-again Christian. “But I believe that miraculous play was God’s way of giving me a platform on which to tell my story of faith and redemption after my struggles with alcohol and marijuana addiction. I’m hoping it can give hope to others who are traveling a road to self-destruction that I once traveled.”

For Tyree, before he could catch that out-of-control spiral, he had to get a grip on a life spiraling out of control. Before he could save a Super Bowl, he had to save himself.

David Tyree was hesitant about attending the Giants opener at the New Meadowlands Stadium on Sept. 12 because he wanted to devote a full Sunday to worship. And, quite frankly, after a six-year NFL career and a lifetime of weekends playing football, the 30-year-old New Jersey native wasn’t sure if he was ready to handle the inevitable withdrawal pains that would nag him.

But Tyree eventually decided to go, and he’s glad he did.

“It was strange at first,” he says. “Special teams was my main thing and when they lined up for that opening kickoff, I could feel my heart pound and I thought how cool it would have been to run down the field to cover a kick one more time, especially on such an historic occasion.”

But after the ball was booted and the tackle was made, Tyree settled down and was able to enjoy himself and appreciate being a spectator.

Interestingly, that catch he made in Super Bowl XLII was the last of his NFL career. An injury to his right knee forced him to miss the entire 2008 season and after being cut in training camp the following August, it took him several weeks before he hooked on with the Baltimore Ravens for the remainder of the 2009 campaign. The Ravens released him after the season and Tyree thought about giving the NFL one more shot. But after receiving no hard offers, he decided to move on with his life. On July 29, the Giants signed him to a one-day contract so he could retire from the team that had chosen him out of Syracuse in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL Draft.

“Being able to do that gave me closure,” Tyree says. “The organization had always been honest with me and supportive, even during my tough period. I’ll always consider myself a Giant.”

Although he expects times when he’ll miss playing, Tyree is looking forward to his new career as the director of strategic partnerships for the Tepidus Group, a soon-to-be-launched Staten Island firm that will handle financial planning, mortgages and philanthropy for highly successful people who are making the transition into the next phase of their careers or lives.

Founded by Tyree’s financial planner, Richard Mahler, the company derives its name from the Latin word for “warmth.”

“It fits in perfectly with my beliefs because we attempt to combine the warmth of a friend with the strength of a group,” says Tyree, who is helping recruit professional athletes to become clients. “I knew Richard before The Catch, and we hit it off right away because his approach wasn’t just about building wealth. It also was about giving back to the community and making it a better place for all.”

Tyree was involved in many charitable causes during his NFL career. He was honored as one of the 50 most caring athletes in America. He’s always enjoyed working with young people and is a big booster of Mahler’s International Children’s Support Foundation.

“We couldn’t think of a better individual to have in this position than David,” says Claudia Wittel, one of Tepidus’ directors. “Here is a guy who has lived the dream and is now ready to make the transition into the corporate world. Here also is an individual who has a big heart and a desire to help others go from being successful to being significant and making a difference in their respective communities.”

Tyree also continues to do good behind the scenes, away from the public eye. He has advised several young professional athletes about the potentially dangerous trappings of wealth and fame.

“Call it a pre-emptive strike,” he says. “I’ve walked in their shoes. I’ve been there, done that. My first year with the Giants, I thought I had it all – money, booze, drugs, women. But I did not have happiness. There was an emptiness in my soul.”

It took an arrest for drug possession on March 2, 2004, and a night behind bars in the Bergen (N.J.) County Jail for the man who thought he had it all to be scared straight.

David Tyree began drinking when he was about 14 and began smoking marijuana a few years later. After arriving at SU on a football scholarship in the summer of 1998 following a high school career in Montclair, N.J., in which he was named an All-American by Blue Chip Illustrated magazine, Tyree cut back on his marijuana use, but began hitting the bottle even harder.

“You are young and in college and you think you are indestructible,” he recalls. “We’d have these binge-drinking contests, see who could consume the most. It got so bad that I began to experience blackouts. I’d wake up nkd in some girl’s dorm room or apartment not knowing what I had done the night before.”

Despite the self-destructive behavior, Tyree enjoyed a solid career as a receiver and special teams demon for the Orange. His signature performance occurred in a 50-42 triple-overtime victory in 2002 against Virginia Tech in which he made nine catches for 229 yards and blocked a punt. He finished his four seasons at SU with 75 receptions for 1,214 yards and six touchdowns. He also returned a punt for a touchdown and blocked six punts – including three in successive seasons against the Hokies.

Tyree made his presence felt immediately with the Giants, earning the NFL Special Teams Rookie-of-the-Year Award. But when he was arrested that following March it appeared he was destined to become yet another in a long line of young athletes who squandered their abilities.

“I vividly remember sitting in that cell, putting my face in my hands and praying to the Lord to please give me another chance and spare my job,” he says. “I had no idea what was going to happen, but I knew I needed help. That was rock bottom for me, the turning point.”

His parents bailed him out the next morning and he received a text message from his estranged college girlfriend, Leilah, that she was pregnant with their second child. He called her at SU to tell her that everything was going to be all right and she flipped out. “What do you mean everything is going to be all right?” she yelled over the phone. “I need some guarantees. I need some commitments. I need you to talk.”

Tyree immediately drove up to Syracuse and apologized to Leilah for the way he had treated her and said his days of being unfaithful to her and of abusing drugs and alcohol were over. The two began to read the Bible together and were married that June. Tyree admits to having a beer with Leilah’s brother not long after that reconciliation in Syracuse, but a funny thing happened when he imbibed.

“It suddenly didn’t taste good to me anymore,” he says. “It was like God was saying to me this stuff is poison for you.”

Tyree says he has not used alcohol or drugs since.

Like Leilah, the Giants decided to give their troubled but talented rookie a second chance. He rewarded their faith by being named the league’s top special-teams player in 2005 and catching a touchdown pass and setting up the winning score in Super Bowl XLII.

“As I reflect back,” Tyree says, “I realize that none of this would have happened if I didn’t allow God to help me. And that is obviously a big reason why I enjoy sharing my story and my ministry with others because we all have struggles, we all face challenges. I want people to know that if I can overcome it, they can, too.”

Many elite athletes, especially football players, have a difficult time adjusting once the cheering stops. But Tyree looks forward to this next chapter of his life. In addition to his new job with Tepidus, he plans to dabble in football broadcasting and spend even more time with Leilah and their five children. He also will continue to counsel athletes and speak to groups about his journey out of the abyss.

“I do love to run the yap, so broadcasting and public speaking shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me,” he says, chuckling. “But I believe I have some things to say that really can help people.”

And, by doing so, David Tyree will continue to prove that he is more than just that catch.

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