The Giants took care of David Tyree all last season when they kept him on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list and then on injured reserve, thus allowing him to collect almost $1 million instead of a lot less in an injury settlement.
Yesterday, Tyree’s get-out-of-cuts-free card, which was stamped when he made his miraculous catch in Super Bowl XLII, officially expired after six years with the Giants.
Tyree, 29, was the biggest name among the 20 players trimmed from the Giants’ roster yesterday as the team got down to the official limit of 53. (Well, actually they’re down to 54, as linebacker Michael Boley won’t count against the roster until his Week 1 suspension is over.)
The 2003 sixth-round pick, who rebounded from an arrest for marijuana possession after his rookie season and eventually became a Pro Bowl special teams player, is now looking for work and hoping this isn’t the end of his career.
“It’s obviously a time of mixed feelings,” Tyree said in the Giants’ press release. “This is part of the journey. It’s not like it’s a great day. But at the same time I’m filled with expectations about what’s next on this track, and I’m excited, as well.”
The Giants also traded tight end Michael Matthews to the Patriots and waived quarterbacks Rhett Bomar and Andre’ Woodson yesterday. But the release of Tyree, while anticipated by many, including Tyree, was certainly the biggest news.
“This is one of the hardest days of the year for players and personnel departments,” general manager Jerry Reese. “It becomes extremely hard when you have to say goodbye to players like David Tyree and Michael Matthews, who have given you their very best and helped you win a championship.”
Tyree received immediate attention from the Chiefs and Ravens yesterday. Other teams may soon follow, but it’s unlikely he’ll be signed until he works out for a club and shows he still has the ability to contribute, despite a series of injuries over the past two seasons.
Tyree began last season on the PUP list after undergoing knee surgery in the spring. He attempted to make a mid-season comeback when he was eligible to be activated, but he suffered a hamstring injury that ended his season. This summer, he struggled in training camp and missed the final two preseason games with another hamstring injury.
“I knew (getting cut) was a possibility,” Tyree said. “I didn’t have a great camp; I had a very average camp. It started terrible and worked up to average. It’s about performance.”
Tyree didn’t have a catch in the preseason. His last reception as a Giant came when he pressed the ball against his helmet as Patriots safety Rodney Harrison grabbed at his arm in vain. Four plays later, Eli Manning found Plaxico Burress for a touchdown that made the Giants Super Bowl champions and ended the Patriots’ perfect season.
“When he came in to see me, I had a lot of emotions running through my head,” said coach Tom Coughlin, who informed Tyree he had been cut. “He put everything at ease; he had a big smile on his face.
“I told David he is forever etched in the annals of New York Giants history. That will never change. That moment in history will stand forever in time.”
Said Tyree, “It’s a moment that obviously will never be taken (away); it’s a moment that I will cherish. I said after the game, if I never get a chance to play football again, I can’t be upset with the way my career went.”
Tyree’s religious devotion grew following his arrest, which came at the start of the Coughlin era and threatened to end his time under the new, stern coach. He will draw on his faith now as he attempts to regroup and move forward.
“At a certain point in time you have to lift your head and know everything kind of works for a reason and I guess I have to find out what that reason is,” he said. “That’s what brings the excitement. The things that are out of your control, that’s when I turn to my faith and believe even more.
“You certainly do have to take the good with the bad. But the bad is what improves your character and makes you stronger.”