By Chad Bonham
NFL Films dubbed it “the greatest play in Super Bowl history.” And just like that, New York Giants receiver David Tyree went from relative obscurity to legendary status.
But there was much more behind the acrobatic and physics bending “helmet catch. Tyree’s personal story and the supernatural activity that was taking place behind the scenes added a sense of wonder and intrigue.
In this CSJ conversation with managing editor Chad Bonham, Tyree describes his spiritual journey, relives the catch, and talks about how a series of Bible verses gave him the faith to believe that anything was possible.
Chad Bonham: A lot of this story starts with your introduction to a minister named Kim Daniels. Tell me about how you met her and how that relationship impacted your spiritual life?
David Tyree: It all started when I made the Pro Bowl as a special teams player in the 2005 season. She invited me to be on the local TBN (broadcast) down in Jacksonville and I just shared my testimony and gave God the glory. After that, probably the strangest thing that happened was we went back to her home and she offered to pray for us. I’d only been saved for two years at that point and not only did she start praying for us, but she started casting devils out of me. Here I was, I was definitely saved and living for the Lord but I didn’t know that I had bad stuff on the inside of me like religion and mainly pride that she had to cast out. She began to speak things into my life and we were just in awe of what God did. This past year, I asked her to be my spiritual mom and it’s been an unbelievable growth process since she’s been a part of my life.
Bonham: What was going on with you in the offseason leading up the 2007 season?
Tyree: I attended the Iron Sharpens Iron Conference that summer. After that, I got involved in a prayer group called Command the Morning at five ‘o clock every weekday morning. I’ve just been learning the nature of the Holy Spirit. I just love the supernatural aspect of God and the fact that it’s so real. Obviously 80 percent of the Christian world is oblivious to it, but it’s been a blessing to be a part of Command the Morning and I really can’t say enough about the role they’ve played in my life in such a short time.”
Bonham: How specifically did that prayer time and daily interaction with other believers impact your spiritual growth?
Tyree: That’s when I started to experience real freedom—freedom from religion. It was the biggest breakthrough I got last year. I really got tired of doing church, you know, going to church and shouting and jumping around and just having emotional highs and then going home. It’s not that it’s not a part of rejoicing. Trust me, there’s deliverance in that. But that’s not the foundational principle of what God is about. He’s about bringing the Kingdom down to earth.
Bonham: What was your mindset after you fractured your wrist during a preseason game and had to sit out the first four games of the regular season?
Tyree: At that point, my assignment was to go intercede and be a priest, prophet and king in the nation where God has sent me and my particular nation was the New York Giants football team. That was my position. That was the authority that God had given me and so I was up at five o’clock in the morning that entire time and a nice stretch beyond that commanding the morning and interceding for other things as well. I definitely interceded for my team.
Bonham: Not a lot of people gave the Giants much chance to succeed in the playoffs as a wild card selection. What about you?
Tyree: I felt like it was a destiny thing just from the entire start of the playoffs and the way things turned out—you know the dramatic ways in which we ended up winning most of these football games. It felt like it was destiny. 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.
Bonham: We talked about Kim Daniels earlier. Tell me more about her role in your Super Bowl performance.
Tyree: I met with Kim and her husband the night before the Super Bowl. There’s an amazing prophetic gift on their lives. One thing in particular that she reminded me of, she said the Lord would quicken my feet. The Lord would give me hinds feet. The honest truth is, I probably have the worst vertical leap. My vertical leap is only about 30 inches when I’m in field position. Most guys leap about 34 inches. Obviously I made one of the craziest catches in Super Bowl history and that was one of the manifestations. And then her husband prophesied that no longer would they know me as just David Tyree the special teams player but as David Tyree the receiver. So it was a very powerful prayer time and there were some things that went along with it concerning my family and my babies.
Bonham: Were there any other indications during the season that pointed towards something special happening at the Super Bowl?
Tyree: In retrospect, it actually started before that earlier in the season when the Lord used somebody else to tell me what he was going to do this year. A friend of mine called earlier in the season and shared some prophetic things. He said the Lord wanted to put me in a place where the platform was going to be enlarged for the glory of the Kingdom. He basically said that I’d success as a special teams player in the league but the Lord was going to give me success as a wide receiver because the platform is that much greater. At that time, we’re talking three months ago at the beginning of the season and I had a broken wrist and I was out. 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. Then obviously, the night before the game there was the prophecy from Apostle Kim Daniels. I also had another friend who wasn’t even a Christian tell me that he had a dream that I was going to have the biggest game of my life. And then the friend who told me my role would increased that season came to me the week of the Super Bowl and gave me Psalm 20:6 as further encouragement that something big was going to happen. It definitely gave me confidence.
Bonham: What was going through your mind after scoring your first touchdown of the season in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl?
Tyree: I assumed that scoring that touchdown was the fulfillment of the prophetic words that had been spoken into my life. I was definitely like, “Does it get any better?” That was the way I was thinking. I scored the go ahead touchdown and our defense was on fire and it looked like we were going to win the game. I scored in the Super Bowl. It was unbelievable. I went straight to the sideline and I thanked God and prayed. It was just grateful. Obviously I pointed up to the sky to give God glory first. It was an amazing feeling. Then I had to get ready for kickoff and I told the Lord, “I want to make this play too” and I actually ended up making the tackle on the kickoff. And I just said, “God, you just so awesome.”
Bonham: Late in the fourth quarter, the Giants are down 14-10 and Eli Manning is doing his best to put together a game-winning drive. Did you expect to be involved in the offense at that point?
Tyree: If you’re in the game, you have to expect to make a play. You have to expect the ball. You have to be ready to be the guy. Now, no one could have guessed or imagined that on third and five Eli would be stepping back. He’s got two guys draped all over him, grabbing his jersey. He’s not the most nimble guy but he gets out of the grasp of the defenders. He rolls back and rolls right and lofts the ball up to probably the guy with the worst vertical jump on the team. But I was remembering that the Lord gave me hinds feet. I go get the ball at the highest point I can with a defensive player (Rodney Harrison) draped on my back who was basically my Siamese twin and then I ended up catching the ball on my helmet.
Bonham: You later described it as an “Ephesians 3:20 catch.” Explain what you meant by that.
Tyree: You can do “exceedingly and abundantly above all that you could ever ask or imagine.” At first, I didn’t know the magnitude of the catch. I just felt like I jumped up and caught the ball and I knew I wasn’t letting go. I didn’t know that Rodney Harrison was on my neck. I didn’t know that the ball was on the helmet. I just felt like I had strong hands and I went up and got the ball. So when I went back to the hotel, obviously the game’s highlights were being shown everywhere and I got a chance to see the catch. It’s very rare for you to be impressed with your own work because you expect greatness. But that was beyond me. That was beyond my capabilities.
Bonham: Of course, the rest was history with Manning making that game-winning touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress. What were you immediate reactions after the big win?
Tyree: I stand in awe of God. 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. There was so much that the world would call irony but I just know that my Lord’s name is Jesus Christ. He set the stage. He spoke the Word even three months or four months ago. It took some endurance. It took some trials. It took some darts from the enemy to get to this point but I held fast to God’s Word. He’ll prove Himself every time—not that He has to, but just because He loves us. That’s the God that I know. That’s the Jesus I’ve come to serve.
(Photos: NFL via AP Images; Ted Kerwin)