“The score will be 17-14 fellas. One touchdown, we are world champions. Believe it, and it will happen.”
Michael Strahan was right. Moments after his impassioned sideline speech, David Tyree‘s leaping ‘Helmet Catch’ and Plaxico Buress’s go-ahead touchdown secured a New York Giants victory in Super Bowl XLII and spoiled the New England Patriots’ bid for a perfect season. The moment was unmatched in Giants history and likely will never be.
Little did the team know that a mass exodus of players would soon follow. Within two years, nearly every key member of New York’s 2007 Super-Bowl-winning roster was either playing for a different team or out of the league entirely.
The Helmet Catch is the most enduring image of Super Bowl XLII, and rightfully so. However, the Giants’ all-time great defensive performance is often overlooked because of that. The Patriots averaged 36.8 points per game during the regular season. In the championship game, Strahan led a pass rush that sacked Tom Brady five times and held New England to two touchdowns.
A Super Bowl title turned out to be enough for Strahan to call it a career. That June, he retired as quietly as a seven-time Pro Bowler could. He only told team owner John Mara about his decision, leaving his teammates and coaches to find out from reporters at their first practice.
No player better represents the irony of the Super Bowl, where any player can become a legend, than Tyree. A former first-team All-Pro on special teams, Tyree had only 54 career receptions entering the Super Bowl and never made another after the Helmet Catch. He missed the entire 2008 season with a knee injury and was soon released by the Giants. He appeared in 10 games the following year with the Baltimore Ravens, but did not get a single target.
In 2014, the New York Giants hired Tyree as their Director of Player Development, where he led community engagement and personal development programs for the roster for six years. An internal restructure last year left him without a job.
Today, he runs a juice bar in Morristown, New Jersey with his wife, which reportedly bears no indication of being owned by the Giants legend.
The aftermath of the Super Bowl was not nearly as kind to Plaxico Burress. In November, Burress suffered an accidental self-inflicted gunshot at a New York nightclub, a mishap that has become more famous than his contributions on the football field. He was later sentenced to two years in prison for carrying a gun without a license.
Coincidentally or not, the mishap ended the New York Giants’ Super Bowl bubble. They began the 2008 season 10-1 but lost three of the last five games after Burress’ arrest and lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in their first playoff game.
Burress found some success upon his return in 2011 with the New York Jets, totaling 612 receiving yards. But he was a non-factor with the Pittsburgh Steelers the next year and soon retired.
Image courtesy of John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports
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