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Hilliard: Being a Giant more special to me than anything

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Former first-round draft pick Ike Hilliard and Super Bowl hero David Tyree have retired as members of the New York Giants.

The Giants announced the retirements of the two receivers Friday.

Tyree will always be remembered for his one-handed catch against his helmet in Super Bowl XLII. He signed a one-day contract and retired Thursday. His career was slowed for the past two years by a knee injury. He spent part of last season with the Baltimore Ravens.

Hilliard was the seventh player taken in the 1997 draft and is fifth in career receptions for the Giants. He signed his one-day contract and retired Friday.

Hilliard last played in the NFL in 2008 with Tampa Bay. He is now an assistant coach for the Florida Tuskers of the UFL.

Both players felt it was important to end their careers with the team that drafted them.

"It was a no-brainer for me," the 34-year-old Hilliard said. "I think I gave it a great effort, my best effort I should say, every day for my 12-year career. You know, being a Giant was obviously more special to me than anything in my professional career, with no disrespect to my four years in Tampa. If I didn't have my start there, I wouldn't have been a part of a great organization and playing with a number of great ballplayers and being able to play for the Mara family and the Tisch family."

Hilliard played in 98 games with 92 starts for the Giants from 1997-2004. He ranks eighth in team history with 4,630 yards receiving and is tied for 11th with 27 touchdown catches. He had eight 100-yard games.

Tyree was drafted in the sixth round in 2003, mostly for his skills on special teams. In 74 regular-season games, the Essex County native had 54 receptions for 650 yards and four touchdowns, including a career-long 49-yarder in 2004.

However, the one that stands out is "The Catch" against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Tyree caught three passes in that game. The first accounted for the Giants' first touchdown. The last was a 32-yard reception on a play that Eli Manning eluded a Patriots' rush and Tyree made his one-handed catch, wedging the ball between his hand and his helmet despite being tackled by safety Rodney Harrison.

That play set up the game-winning touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress in the 17-14 win.

Tyree does not know how many times he has watched the catch.

"I've never watched the game in its entirety so that's something I'll look forward to doing," the 30-year-old Tyree said Friday. "I know it means a lot more to me now and I was sharing this as well and I don't think that I had the full understanding of the true depth of what occurred. I think that the more I am removed from it, the more I appreciate it. So goes with my entire career. Obviously that is the one signature moment which I'll be remembered for as a football player, but I was definitely satisfied with the complete body of work as well."

Tyree plans to combine his future work in business and ministry.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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