This article also appears on Yahoo! Sports.
If it feels like David Tyree’s helmet catch to propel the New York Giants over the New England Patriots in 2008’s Super Bowl XLII happened just yesterday, it’s probably because you’ve seen the replay of the greatest catch in Super Bowl history more times than you care to remember.
And with the Giants and Patriots set for a rematch on Sunday, the former Syracuse star is embarking on a second round of his 15 minutes of fame. That includes more endless replays of “The Catch” and a trip to Indianapolis, where he’ll be doing appearances and interviews leading up to the game and may even have a cameo on NBC’s Super Bowl pre-game show with Bob Costas.
Speaking earlier this week, Tyree admits he still hasn’t fully grasped the enormity of that moment and how it’s forever altered his life.
“There’s still some aspects of it that I’m still taking in, to be honest with you,” Tyree said. “Just because it’s four years later now and obviously everybody’s reliving that amazing moment. So for me, more than anything, it’s humbling and I just do my best and have fun with it and present it to everybody so they can enjoy it as well.”
While many people are still trying to comprehend how Tyree hung onto the ball, the deeply religious, born-again Christian has his explanation: Divine intervention.
Why Tyree of all people to become a Super Bowl hero?
“There’s a scripture that says, ‘God chooses the low things of the world to put to shame the wise,’” said Tyree, paraphrasing a bible verse. “I’m the least likely guy, the least likely candidate to make that play, to be in position to have any impact in the Super Bowl.”
And what an impact he had.
On top of a touchdown catch earlier in the game, that 32-yard bomb helped set up the Giants’ winning touchdown in the final minute. Amazingly, that was Tyree’s final NFL catch. Ever. After sitting out the entire 2008 season due to injury, he was cut by the Giants before the 2009 season and played just 10 games for the Baltimore Ravens that fall before calling it quits for good.
Still just 32-years old, Tyree now lives outside New York City with his wife and six children in Wayne, NJ, where he stays busy with his home-schooled kids and philanthropy projects like Carter’s Kids, a charity for underprivileged youth run by Tyree’s former Giants teammate, Tim Carter. Tyree credits the catch and the fame that came with it for helping him spread his charitable efforts.
But Tyree’s beliefs have also led to controversy. Prior to New York state approving gay marriage last June, Tyree took part in a controversial interview with the National Organization for Marriage in which he said legalizing same-sex marriage would lead to “anarchy.” He raised even more eyebrows when Tyree then said he would trade the helmet catch and Super Bowl victory to prevent gay marriage being legalized, something he stands by today.
“You have to understand you’re asking me, ‘Would I trade in a football moment to preserve marriage?’” Tyree said. “Absolutely.”
While it should not be a surprise that a religiously conservative person would oppose gay marriage, Tyree’s struck a nerve for using such strong words on such a divisive topic and fueling the perception of homophobia in sports. The comments resulted in a huge backlash from the media and people sent him hate messages over Twitter.
Tyree said he thinks it’s hypocritical for people who openly support gay marriage to criticize him for also voicing his beliefs and is hopeful it won’t cause a rift with former Giants teammates like Michael Strahan and members of the organization like Steve Tisch (a co-owner of the team), who both supported the law.
“I hope that wouldn’t strain someone’s relationship, differences of opinion, because I’m sure there are other areas where we have gross differences of opinion but that shouldn’t entangle my ability to be able to relate to somebody and love somebody,” Tyree said. “I can disagree with you and love you.”
Listening to Tyree’s deep conviction and charisma, it’s easy to wonder if he will follow in the footsteps of other former NFL stars like Irving Fryar and Napoleon Kaufman to become a pastor one day. He says it’s possible but not a focus right now.
Said Tyree: “You can keep your title (of a pastor) but I’ll go ahead and shepherd some people, I’ll go ahead and love some people, I’ll go ahead and teach people the truth.”
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