Happy 44th birthday to Super Bowl Champion Amani Toomer.
As the New York Giants’ current franchise record holder in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns, it is clear Toomer has been one of the most impactful players in franchise history. With his today being his birthday, it would only be right to look back at his journey to the NFL, his 13 years in the NFL, and his career post-NFL.
High School/College Career
Born in Berkeley, California, Toomer began his Pee-Wee Football career as a lineman, although over the years transitioned to skill positions like receiver and running back. Toomer would attend De La Salle High School in Concord, California, which has since produced NFL talents such as Maurice Jones-Drew (Class of 2003), Kevin Simon (Class of 2001), TJ Ward (Class of 2004) and many more.
As a senior in 1991, Toomer captained his team, and was named a USA Today and Parade All-American. He would decide to attend the University of Michigan in 1992, despite his father attending and playing football at Michigan’s rival school, Ohio State. Toomer would stay all four years at Michigan, amassing 138 receptions for 2522 yards and 16 touchdowns in the regular season. He would earn All-Big Ten honors as a junior and senior and would be a major impact player in their win over number tenth ranked Colorado State in the Holiday Bowl in 1994.
Toomer would be selected in the second round of the 1996 NFL draft by the New York Giants. His rookie season would be cut short due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), although prior to the injury, Toomer was making a major impact on special teams, as he was leading the NFL in average yards per punt return (16.1). Toomer would remain a return specialist through 1998, as he saw just 100 targets in his first three seasons compared to 115 kick and punt returns.
1999 would be Toomer’s breakout campaign, as the then 25-year-old would more than double his career target share, earning 137 targets that season. He would turn said targets into 79 receptions, 1183 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Toomer would continue his success the following season, as the Giants would finish with a 12-4 record, while Toomer lead the team in targets (124), receptions (78), and receiving yards (1094). Unfortunately for Toomer, the Giants would go on to lose the Super Bowl to the Baltimore Ravens that season. In three postseason games in 2000, Toomer would have 10 receptions for 135 yards and one touchdown.
From 1999-2003, Toomer’s average production over a full season came out to 138 targets, 75 receptions, 1146 yards and six touchdowns. The only wide receivers to have more receptions than Toomer over this span were Marvin Harrison, Randy Moss, Rod Smith, Jimmy Smith, Torry Holt and Terrell Owens.
The 2004 season would be quite an anomaly for Toomer, as he would fail to score a touchdown despite playing in 15 of the Giants 16 regular season games. His 107 targets and 747 receiving yards would still lead the team, although the Giants would go 6-10 and fall short of making the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
In 2005, the Giants would transition to a new starting quarterback, Eli Manning, and new primary receiver, Plaxico Burress. Toomer would be moved into a tertiary role, as the two primarily targeted Giants’ were Burress and tight end Jeremy Shockey. The Giants would have a successful season, posting an 11-5 record, although they would lose convincingly 23-0 to the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Wild Card game.
Toomer began the 2006 season on fire, posting a career-high 12 receptions in week two against the rival Philadelphia Eagles, although his season would again be cut short due to a partially torn ACL. With Toomer in the lineup, the Giants posted a 6-2 record, although without him, they were just 2-6. Head Coach Tom Coughlin stated that “There’s no question Amani has a very positive effect on Eli… [and that] he has a way of being in the right place at the right time”.
In 2007, the Giants would sneak their way into the playoffs with a 10-6 record. Without tight end Jeremy Shockey, who was lost in week 15 to a fractured fibula, Toomer was forced to have an increased role down the stretch. In four playoff games, Toomer would have 21 receptions for 280 yards and three touchdowns in route to his first ever Super Bowl victory over the then-undefeated New England Patriots.
2008 was Toomer’s final season in the NFL. He would conclude his career as the franchise record holder for most career receiving yards, receptions, receiving touchdowns, and most consecutive games with at least one reception. He would go on to sign a one-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009, although would never suit up for the red and gold, as he was released on the final day of roster cuts.
In 2010, Toomer was inducted into the initial New York Giants Ring of Honor with other legends including owner Tim Mara, head coach Bill Parcells, and players like Sam Huff, Tiki Barber, and Michael Strahan. In total, a combination of 30 owners, coaches and players were inducted.
In 2011, Toomer joined MSG Varsity’s broadcast team. MSG Varsity is a multi-platform suite of services comprised of: an Emmy award-winning 24/7 HD television network, a comprehensive online destination, and a groundbreaking interactive service, dedicated to high school sports, academics and activities happening through the tri-state area.
In 2012, Toomer continued his career in sports media by joining NBC Sports Radio, where he is a co-host with Dan Schwartzman on “Going Deep with Amani & Dan”. On top of radio, Toomer has been seen working with the NFL, assisting with their Play 60 campaign, which encourages children to eat healthier and live a more active lifestyle, and Salute to Service campaign, which is a year round effort to honor, empower, and connect our nations service members and their families. Toomer can be found on Twitter @AmaniAToomer or on Instagram @AToomer81.
Once again, happy birthday to Amani Toomer, and thank you for your contributions on and off the field.