He was one of the best special teams players in the league. Everybody knew that. The Giants drafted him in the sixth round out of Syracuse to make a difference on specials. And he did, right from the start. Opposing coaches had to game plan against Tyree. He was a Pro Bowl alternate in his second season last year.
But Tyree also was a wide receiver. He wasn't going to campaign for an opportunity. That's not his style. But Tyree prayed for a shot on offense.
Tom Coughlin didn't know David Tyree from Tyra Banks when a news flash hit the wire in March 2004. Tyree had been arrested and charged with drug possession. He was reportedly stopped for speeding and had an outstanding traffic warrant. The two guys in the car, police said, had a half-pound of weed. Wonderful.
A lesser player may have been cut. But Tyree would have been unemployed for about five minutes. Coughlin knew how Tyree could change a football game. The gruff coach stuck with the affable pro.
Coughlin continued to stand by Tyree. Coughlin gave Tyree an opportunity at receiver as last season progressed. Tyree responded with seven catches for 71 yards and a touchdown in the season-ending win over Dallas. Coughlin gave Tyree another chance this preseason. Tyree showed the hunger that has brought him from Livingston, N.J. to Syracuse University to the NFL.
Tyree is no longer a special teams player who used to play receiver. He is the team's third receiver and Amani Toomer's backup in the slot. Tyree earned Coughlin's respect a long time ago. Now Tyree has Coughlin's confidence as well.
"He had three guys diving at him that missed and he goes the distance,'' Coughlin said after Tyree's 90-yard TD catch in the preseason game against Carolina. "He then turns around and covers on the next kickoff, too, which was amazing. He is a guy who really helps this team.''
Tyree never slows down. He amazes teammates with his kamikaze practice style. Whether it's during a one-on-one drill or scrimmages or, of course, playing on Sunday, Tyree is stuck in fifth gear.
"When I first got here, Tim Carter was in the three position,'' safety Gibril Wilson said. "Tyree kept fighting and kept going. Now he's really established himself.''
Tyree wasn't always so together. His memories of 9/11, which this year's anniversary fell on the NFL's first Sunday, remind him of inner turmoil he was experiencing at the time. "I was still wrapped up in myself at that point in time,'' is how he puts it.
Tyree explains his turnaround with becoming a born-again Christian. He married his college sweetheart 15 months ago. They have two boys, Teyon, 3, and Josiah, 10 months. Teyon is a big boy for 3, his dad said. The father's eyes glisten when he talks about his family, about the Lord.
"I've been blessed,'' David Tyree says.
He sits on the stool in front of his locker. Tyree opens his bible and starts reading. It's a good day. Another good day.
Tyree makes most of opportunity
The Giants Beat Top Stories
NFL Offensive Leaders Through Week 6Here's who has been putting up BIG offensive numbers through the first 6 weeks of the NFL season.
ScoutWednesday at 9:48 AM
Week 7 Fantasy Slant: Giants vs. RamsThe Giants Beat takes a look ahead at who will be the top performers for Fantasy Owners as the Giants take on the Rams in London.
The Giants BeatWednesday at 8:52 AM
SUBSCRIBE TODAY: 3-months for Price of 1The New York Giants season is in full swing and for Week 7 we're offering a special deal for new The Giants Beat subscribers!
The Giants BeatTuesday at 1:02 PM
The Giants Beat Podcast: Week 6 RecapThe Giants Beat podcast team reviews the Giants thrilling last minute win over the Ravens.
The Giants BeatTuesday at 9:15 AM