[02.08.08] On February 3, more than 90 million people watched Super Bowl XLII. Some watched because they were legitimate fans of either New England or New York. But truthfully, most likely watched to see history made one way or another—either the Patriots were going to finish out a perfect season at 19-0 or the NFC’s fifth-seeded Wild Card Giants were going to shock the world and play the ultimate role of spoiler.
Of those two scenarios, very few prognosticators, fans or casual bystanders gave much hope for the latter to happen. But when New York pulled off the historic 17-14 upset, at least one member of the team wasn’t surprised.
“It felt like it was destiny,” said David Tyree, a Giants wide receiver. “That’s kind of how I felt going into it. I was never moved. My faith was never rocked. I knew God would do what He said He was going to do.”
When New York started the season 0-2, Tyree wrote a letter to his team. In that letter, he encouraged the other players and coaches to keep the faith. Tyree was confident that God has a special plan for the Giants. This confidence for the born-again, spirit-filled believer came from prophetic words he was receiving from the Holy Spirit through various friends and spiritual confidantes.
Throughout the season, Tyree also benefited from his relationship with “spiritual mom” Apostle Kimberly Daniels, founder of Spoken Word Ministries in Jacksonville, Fla., whose son Michael Jennings also plays for the Giants. The night before the Super Bowl, Daniels and husband Ardell prayed with Tyree and received some very specific prophecies about his role in the game.
Daniels told Tyree that the Lord would “quicken” his feet and give him “hind’s feet” which she later explained to him were like the feet of a kangaroo. She also told him that he would have “spiritual glue” on his hands and would make “the big play.” Daniels’ husband prophesied that the sports world would no longer know him as just a special teams player but as, “David Tyree, the receiver.”
Earlier in the season, another friend prophesied that Tyree’s platform would be enlarged.
“At that time, I had a broken wrist and I was out,” Tyree recalls. “But trust me, I was receiving the Word and I was definitely not turning away the Word of the Lord. I just trusted God and we held on to the Word of God by faith. It was not a pretty year for me as a receiver. I had to hold on to that truth until this very last game.”
After catching only four passes all season—none of which resulted in touchdowns—Tyree started to experience some amazing results in the Super Bowl, including a 5-yard touchdown reception from Eli Manning that put the Giants ahead 10-7 with 11:05 left in the fourth quarter. At that point, Tyree admits he assumed that was the fulfillment of the prophetic words that had been spoken into his life.
But late in the game, the Patriots responded with a touchdown and reclaimed the lead, 14-10. With just over two minutes to play, Tyree and the Giants offense took the field for one last shot at Super Bowl immortality.
At the 1:15 mark, New York faced a third down play needing five yards to keep the drive going. Manning narrowly averted multiple sack attempts, including one defender who had grabbed his jersey. The quarterback rolled to the right and launched a 32-yard pass down the middle of the field where Tyree—who admits he has the worst vertical leap among the team’s receiving corps—jumped higher than ever before and trapped the ball on the back portion of his helmet. With Patriots defensive back Rodney Harrison draped on his right side like a “Siamese twin,” he secured the ball and maintained possession despite landing squarely on his back.
“Obviously that catch was the Ephesians 3:20 catch,” Tyree says. “You can do exceedingly and abundantly above all that you could ever ask or imagine.”
Four plays later, Manning tossed a 13-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Tyree’s good friend Plaxico Burress. But after the game, everyone was still talking about “the catch.” In fact, many reporters and pro football historians are calling Tyree’s acrobatic grab one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl—if not NFL—history.
Tyree says he is excited to see how God will use this moment in the spotlight not just for the public stage but within the ranks of his team as well. He plans to use the off-season as a time of preparation for what the Lord is planning to accomplish within the ranks of his own team.
And though many continue to be amazed by Tyree’s individual Super Bowl achievement, the unlikely hero remains quick to deflect the praise elsewhere.
“I stand in awe of God,” he says. “You have so many emotions throughout a game like that and an experience like that. But there was nothing but awe. I’m grateful to know a living God. He speaks. He walks. He talks. He’s walking with me. He’s dealing with me. He’s moving in my life intimately to the point where I don’t believe anybody can deny it.” —Chad Bonham