Editor's note: NFL.com is following five players who enter their respective training camps hoping to be one of their team's 53. Here are their stories as they strive to hold on to their NFL dreams.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - David Tyree has learned that fame is fleeting.
Not too long ago, he was one of the most recognizable sports figures in the country, having made arguably the most spectacular catch in Super Bowl history on the New York Giants' game-winning drive over previously unbeaten New England. Now, he rarely bumps into anyone who doesn't ask what team he is playing for, or if he's still in the NFL.
As he prepares for the start of training camp next week with the New York Giants -- yes, he's still with the Giants -- his future in the NFL is in question. Eighteen months after one of the greatest moments in the team's history and coming off an entire season on injured reserve, Tyree suddenly finds himself on the fringes of the team's roster, in a fight with much younger guys that have a fraction of his NFL experience -- some with none at all -- for one of the Giants' final wide receiver jobs.
Tyree, 29, re-joins a roster that is now without Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer. On the surface, it looks like a prime opportunity to fill a void he missed on last season. The offseason has been filled with speculation as to how the Giants are going to replace Burress and Toomer, and Tyree seems like a good fit to help offset their departures in some way.
Yet, he never hears his name mentioned as part of the solution. Truth be told, he rarely hears his name anymore, period.
"I got cut by the fans," he says smiling.
He doesn't fault people for their Tyree-amnesia. He hasn't been in a Giants' uniform since Super Bowl XLII. Even Burress took more snaps for the Giants in 2008. A freak offseason knee injury and the recurring hamstring problems that accompanied it landed Tyree on injured reserve at a time when the Giants could have used his special-teams prowess and his help at wide receiver. Burress missed much of the season after accidentally shooting himself in the leg and being suspended by the team, and Toomer, in his 13th season, saw his role reduced.
Compounding the wide-ranging emotions that came along with not being able to play was the secret Tyree kept as to how he shredded the fibers in his right meniscus.
"It was the beginning of the offseason program in March and I was just getting back into the flow of things," he said. "I go to lotion up and I bent my body (awkwardly) to pick up my lotion, and my knee locked up. I couldn't straighten it out."
Tyree eventually was able to straighten the knee, but felt a "pop" when he did so. The extent of the injury was revealed shortly thereafter in an MRI exam. The freak injury had thwarted his Super Bowl momentum.
"I'm a particular man of faith, and I really felt like God did something great in my life -- not about me -- but he put something great in my life," Tyree said about the XLII catch. "Then to have it snatched away at a whim. At first it was a raw taste of humility to get you to understand how short-lived some moments can be, even though it's had a tremendous impact.
"My greatest desire was not to be defined by one moment. I still feel the catch was more the beginning of something than the end of something. That's what I am anxious about this year."
The Giants open camp on Monday with a roster stockpiled with young wide receivers acquired over the past few years, including Steve Smith, Mario Manningham, Dominik Hixon, Sinorice Moss and two rookies -- Hakeem Nicks (first round) and Ramses Barden (third round). Tyree views the situation more as an opportunity than a challenge.
"If I'm not salivating at the mouth because of the way things look then I'm in the wrong business," he said. "It's wide open. I like starting in a pit, and I'm going to dig my way out. And when I'm free, I'm going to run with it."
The numbers don't seem to be in his favor, but they rarely have. Despite Tyree's Super Bowl heroics, he always has earned his NFL keep on special teams, where he earned Pro Bowl honors in 2005. In five NFL seasons, he has just 54 regular-season receptions and four touchdowns. The former sixth-round selection from Syracuse wants to make his mark catching the ball, but he also knows he has to earn his keep as an aggressive, sound, anchor in the kicking game.
"My rookie year, it was a numbers thing: 'They're going to keep five, maybe six, wide receivers. They got that guy locked in. I've got to put every ounce into my performance every day and let the chips fall where they may. Special team is the reason why I got to this league. I've recognized it as my bread and butter. If there's ever been a close competition -- there always is -- that's my edge."
Tyree is well aware of his predicament. His amazing catch in Arizona 18 months ago isn't going to grant him another shot. Diligence, good health, hard work and some lucky breaks will. And while he said he'll always be known for that catch, simply running into Giants Stadium in uniform will be equally as rewarding.
"It's not like I can say I'm going to do something better; can't guarantee that," Tyree said of his Super Bowl heroics. "I've had moments where I felt like just grabbing a photo of the catch and burning it. I feel like I've added much more. That's a great, climactic moment.
"There's only one thing I visualize, and that's running out the tunnel at the home opener. I'm a Jersey boy, and it's been a great six years. I know there's folks rooting for me, I know there's folks that's saying, 'He's in the can.' It's going to mean that much more to me to run out of the tunnel again as a New York Giant."