Episode 306

David Tyree On His Legendary Super Bowl Catch And Life After Football

Elevate with Robert Glazer | David Tyree | Helmet Catch

David Tyree is a legitimate football legend. As a wide receiver on the New York Giants, he made what many consider to be the greatest catch in the history of the NFL, known today as the Helmet Catch. Since his playing days, David has become a sought-after motivational speaker and host of the top-rated Catch the Moment Podcast. David joins Robert Glazer to discuss his football career, life after the NFL, building resilience, mentorship, and much more.

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David Tyree On His Legendary Super Bowl Catch And Life After Football

David Tyree talks about his football career that led to his legendary Helmet Catch, as well as his life post-NFL as a motivational speaker and podcaster.

Our quote for this episode is from Bill Shankly, “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.” My guest, David Tyree, is a legitimate football legend. As a wide receiver on the New York Giants, he made what many considered to be the greatest catch in the history of the NFL, what’s known as the Helmet Catch in Super Bowl 42, which happened against my beloved, New England Patriots. Since his playing days, David has become a sought-after motivational speaker and a host of the top-ranked Catch the Moment Podcast. David, welcome. It’s great to have you on the show.

Great to be here. How’s everything going?

Good. I want to start by saying it’s pretty big of me to have you on here because you’re responsible for one of the more disappointing moments of my life or at least my life as a Boston sports fan. We had that perfect season.

We got to tip the hat. The road to humility is full of humbling moments. Not the most favorite in the New England area in the Boston community, but it’s all love now.

Elevate with Robert Glazer | David Tyree | Helmet Catch

 

It’s all good. We have the shoe catch now and I was at that game, so it helped. I saw you speak and I didn’t know a lot about your story. I knew about this painful moment in my sports history, but I’m impressed with your story and the impact you made on and off the field. Take us back a little bit. Start at the beginning. What did your childhood upbringing look like for you?

This is the county’s inner city. My mom and dad are out of Newark, New Jersey. A little bit more strong city, but I was fortunate somewhere around the middle of the fifth grade to move to a suburb, Monklands, New Jersey, where lots of people in the New Jersey area love to move to celebrities, Michael Strahan, Bobby Brown, even Peter King. People loved it, but it was a diverse community where sports thrive.

I’m honestly growing up in a single-parent home. My mom was an amazing working-class parent. My dad was not too far around. He’s right around the corner in Orange, New Jersey, East Orange. I had everything that I needed, but when you grew up, you’re missing something as central as a father. You’re looking for your identity.

Early on around that time, it was the typical vices for a young African-American kid who found myself drinking at fourteen and smoking marijuana right around the same time. My love for football and what football meant in that community, Montana, New Jersey, was the guiding light. It gave me the guardrails where I didn’t have a firm sense of identity as a young kid. It proved well for me. My passion for it created opportunities to move out to Syracuse. The vices followed me wherever I went and created obstacles along the way. That was a big part of my upbringing. There is more to it, but trust me, on the field, it was some special opportunities. Off the field, it had all kinds of obstacles to overcome.

Do you come from a big family?

No, just two older sisters. One’s nine years older. She went straight into the military. She was gone, but my sister and I, who’s the middle child, were very close. She’s two years older than me. We are pees in the pod still to this day. She’s not too far away. It is only two older sisters. I was a baby boy. As I said, I was fortunate to hook on to athletics in that town where football, basketball, baseball, and eventually track through high school. Talking about some reckless and wild behavior in my junior years, my house was like the spot. It was the safe zone for high school tomfoolery.

People in my area remember that. It’s more rough in the streets these days. In my era, we were out in the streets. It was the days of rap culture and hip-hop culture. It was budding. My sister and people knew that I was naughty by nature. It was a rise. It was 40 ounces in a weekend, smoke the blood to the head, drink half a pint of Jack Daniels and that was like every week.

Was your natural ability so good that you could overcome that or did you notice that was hurting you and if you cut it back, you were playing better?

No. As I said, my natural ability overcame. Everything starts social. I come from a true sense of social age, the social interactions. We talk about peer pressure. There’s positive peer pressure and negative peer pressure. The negative peer pressure is what I gave hold to and light of some of the lack. Football is like a surrogate father. Sports has the ability to give you identity, guidance, and affirmation. You have coaches who will play a role, but devices for me got dark when I got to Syracuse. That’s been a tricky community. I know it’s been ranked as the number one.

Football has the ability to give you identity, guidance, and affirmation. Click to Tweet

It’s cold up there. My wife went there. There’s nothing else to do.

Private school university, Marsha Street, and that’s when the blackouts came. That’s when I started to have a little bit of insecurity around it because high school is like catching your weekends here. You get drunk, throw up, and you laugh. It carries on up and you embrace the culture and the tomfoolery as a young kid. I know there’s some rites of passage mentality to it, but I certainly had moments where I was uncomfortable.

You wake up, you don’t know what happened the night before or if you slept with somebody or what crazy disease you could have got, but you mow past it as the day goes on. There’s a new opportunity to be a fool all over again. You get a couple of pats on the back and you forget that moment of turmoil where your couch is speaking to you. That was most of my college career where blackouts came in and erratic and unsafe behavior, but that’s who I was. That’s who I knew myself to be. My mentality was I was down for whatever. On the field, I was never going to start a fight. I am happy to finish it.

In these moments, in either high school or college, when you are having these amazing moments on the field, and maybe off the field is amazing, but the impact afterward is not so amazing, who were your mentors? Did some of the coaches come to you with ultimatums during this period like, “David, you’ve got all this in front of you. You got to change what you’re doing?”

Especially through college, I was able to keep an image. I was well-meaning. I’m pretty honest. I don’t go too far for the good guy mentality in relation to holding high standards. When you know something’s right or not beneficial, it’s okay to say, “This isn’t beneficial.” I was able to keep up my image and be in classes. If I got myself in trouble, I can get myself back on track. It helped the good guy image where coaches probably didn’t know how bad it could have been in those instances. The first true person who was a mentor, even though he was a wild man himself, was my strength coach. The reason why he became such a figure was because I wasn’t the sexy athlete.

I wasn’t the guy who was the choice athlete, especially at the time when there were premium athletes. There was Kevin Johnson and Quinton Spotwood. Donovan was there for a year before he got drafted second overall. The talent pool was a little better and I wasn’t favorite. William Hicks was one of those guys. I was running low four fours and they would look at me like I was slow. He was the first man who became an advocate for me, but there was no one who was changing or course-correcting me on a character level because the performance and the dog mentality were there. It followed me and haunted me all the way to my first year in the NFL.

Where were you drafted?

Sixth round, 2003 draft. I’m not on the radar. My son was my motivation for the NFL. I didn’t feel like I was doing great at college so I never had NFL dreams. Once he was born, that was my goal. It was to provide something unique for him. I get drafted as a special teams player in the sixth round, number 2-11 overall, a compensatory pick. Even though I grew up hating the Giants because Leonard Marshall hurt Joe Montana, it was a dream come true. Jersey boy, stay right home.

I’ve heard you talk about this, but there’s talent. It seemed like you were one of these people who weren’t going to get outworked and that was your MO.

What I reflect on and I deem to be special about my role in the NFL was I saw what most players looked at demotion as an opportunity. A special team is not something that is celebrated. It gets a little bit more respect now because of social media. You get a chance. You got Matt Slater who was probably the best all the time. He rivaled Steve Tasker for the best goal of all time. No one wanted to do that and I saw it as an opportunity because I wanted to contribute. Even when I talked to people, I said, “What do you value more, your success or the ability to contribute to something meaningful?” That’s what sports was. That’s what the game was.

I wasn’t willing to sacrifice an opportunity to contribute while I was waiting for my moment of validation. It was all work ethic. You look at athletes now, these guys are mutants. I tell people, “They’re Lamborghinis.” I was like an old 1970 Lincoln, just long and wide turns. You have to have a certain grit and a certain mentality to do what others are not willing to do and make necessary sacrifices to attain the goals that appear to be impossible.

You need a certain mentality to do what others are not willing to do. Make the necessary sacrifices to attain the goals that seem impossible. Click to Tweet

Special teams, as you alluded, for a lot of people in late-round draft picks, it was how you have a chance to break in. It’s unheralded. No one knows who you are. You start doing that, you get to the NFL and it sounds like that’s when you stopped some of the vices as well.

My rookie year was the year of exposure. I’m now on my own. I don’t have the ecosystem of college and the routine of being a student-athlete to protect me from myself. I’m on my own and I was back home in my own environment. Now I have money that basically gives me more access to who I am, more alcohol, and more women. I have money to buy marijuana. I didn’t smoke that much in college because I had no money.

I was afraid of getting caught in a drug test in some of my senior years. It was more of a go-home thing. When I got to the NFL, it was every single day. I had the best bud. It was just lifestyle at that point. At the end of the season, which was Jim Fassel’s last year, the head coach of the New York Giants, I got fined because I was reckless. I’m talking about showing up and smelling like a brewery. I was late a number of times and missed meetings a couple of times. He hit me with a $10,000 fine. It should have been about $40,000, which I was certain.

It was a good deal. You got a group discount.

Great deal. I said, “I’m smoking the best bud. I might as well start selling it.” That’s what I did. Somewhere after Mardi Gras, I was spending Mardi Gras with Ryan Clark. He was probably one of my only friends on the team because I had all my buddies from high school that I spent more time with. I went down to Mardi Gras to see him. I come back. I go pick up half a pound of purple haze and end up getting pulled over, coming off of the GWB. That was my road to Damascus moment.

You see those red lights and, in my head, I can envision the ticker going across the television, “David Tyree, arrested on marijuana possession.” Surely, that was my road to Damascus moment. In that jail cell, honestly, at 24 years old, I was living my own life. I was sober enough to say, “There was no one else responsible. My friends didn’t force me to do this. This is me.” I didn’t grow up with faith, but I had a way of prayer, “God, all I know is I need you. If you allow me to keep my job, I’d appreciate that, too.” Months later, I was a different dude.

There was no external. No one shook you. You just had that moment of, “This isn’t working for me.”

I’ve been sober as an individual in general. Everybody has a different cadence growing up. It might be frustrating with parents telling you what you can or not do and your disposition toward authority. I was making most of my decisions as a young man for myself, bumping my head against it. I got arrested twice as a teenager. I almost had to go to juvie. 

My curves were earlier. At 24 years old, I’m like, “Clearly, I’m not that smart, even though I got a degree and was in the NFL.” It was a sober moment. The next thing you know, God restores me. I no longer drink again and no longer smoke again. I was married three months later. I got on the road to becoming the man that I need to be and able to envision myself as the athlete and the performer that I can be. It paved the pathway for stability, being a learner, a reader, and growing up as a man.

It’s interesting that you say that because people have all kinds of circumstances that they either are born into or grow up with in different playing fields. We seem to be adopting a mentality that it’s someone else’s fault for something that happened before. What’s interesting is there’s no data that proves that does any possible good if you’re angry, feel aggrieved, and you’re a victim. I’ve heard similar stories to what you’re saying where they made a difference. Someone was like, “It’s up to me. I got to do something different. The circumstances are the circumstances, but the thing I can change is me. I feel when people have this, the world is out to get me,” kind of viewpoint. They’re probably not going to have that moment.

Elevate with Robert Glazer | David Tyree | Helmet Catch

 

The victim mentality serves no one. There are things that will happen in life that are beyond your control. If you make yourself subject to circumstance, you’ll never pave a life that is filled with meaning, filled with the prospect of victory, being an overcomer, or finding what one determines to be success. That mentality serves no one. It’ll never serve you. It’s an excuse and a mechanism that we would like to distance ourselves from being accountable for everything that we’re not. We’re innately meant to be something in the world. That’s the relative part, but no one in their career is saying, “I want to be nothing. I want to be a loser,” as a kid. It serves no one. The entitlement is sickening.

Tom Coughlin was a new coach then and he knew about this incident.

He inherited it.

He had to give you that chance.

His reputation preceded him and he had no reason to believe anything that I was saying, even from the change. I was sitting in front of this dude not too long. This all happened a month after he was hired when I got arrested. Even though I had to experience a successful rookie season and Special Teams Rookie of the Year or Giants Rookie of the Year, this is clean house time.

He had cover. He’s like, “I don’t need this.”

That was something. It gave me the grace to work my way through the off-season and improve that. Even more so, he means so much to me because I had a horrible training camp during his first year as a coach and as a receiver. I did some things to be proud of.

Did you play a receiver in your rookie year?

I did. I had a 100-yard receiving game, which coming off the bench and getting an opportunity I was super proud of. It didn’t have too many opportunities there. I over-delivered even in training camp as a rookie. It was good but did not deliver it as a special teams player. I was looking again and picking up on that momentum. Training camp sucked. He leaned on me and understood what I brought as a special teamer and that proved its value. That was Eli’s rookie year.

By the end of the year, we had a horrible season as a team, but I started the last game. It was like a nice little coming-out game for Eli Manning, where I started that last game against the Cowboys with 7 catches at 71 yards in the touchdown. Eli played well. We won the game, but it was a big transition. He had to believe that the change that I was professing was true because, in my training camps, I didn’t need this guy. He’s got a little something, but we can find a special team guy.

Let’s work backward from the moment of the catch, which is burned into my mind. You’re facing the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. They’re the first team in decades to go undefeated. There’s been any masses, 50 touchdowns that year. They’re trying to become the first perfect team in the NFL. You guys are huge underdogs. There’s a fourth downplay. Manning scrambles. The game would be over and throws this ball up. You make this ridiculous catch then the Giants go on to win the game and break the hearts of every Patriots fan out there.

I can sense how hard that was for you.

It was hard but I appreciate it. It’s like art, you appreciate quality. I always loved Derek Jeter. He played hard and played right. You can’t not like the guy. There’s always the story, but there’s what came before the story. I think of this because there’s Malcolm Butler, another famous catch in the Super Bowl. They were supposed to run and they threw it. He was there, then you watch the behind-the-scenes NFL films and you see the coach pulling a card three days before and practicing for this play and talking about what they would do on this play and training Malcolm. There’s always a story. How did you get yourself to be on the field and in that play and have that chemistry? What was the lead-up to that no one sees?

To summarize it, honestly, the lead-up to the helmet catch was my entire body of work in pursuing being a third receiver in the NFL. In my third year, I won the third wide receiver position. Eli had a maturation process. Everybody knows Eli was on a chop block the same year we won the Super Bowl. It didn’t work out for me. They wanted somebody else in that role and I was always pecking away and the ugly duckling in the receiver room. He is the guy that does all the right things and knows all the assignments.

Cleanup work.

“We can trust them, but we’d rather have somebody else. Let’s draft another guy.” Even in the story of that season specifically, I’m competing in training camp but I get hurt in a third preseason game. I miss the rest of the first two regular season games. The cool part about it was, the year before the Colts won it, Peyton, Eli’s brother, won it. I had this eerie feeling that something special was happening. I’m settled in my faith. I got a little bit of a spiritual leader tag in my backpack for the team.

I wrote this letter to the team like, “Something special is happening.” There are all the craziest naysayers in our crazy media world in New York. I’m in this fifth receiver role on special teams. I come back. It was the worst statistical year of my life as a special teamer. No opportunities as a receiver. I got some spot work against Chicago, and the next thing you know, my mom passes away as we were preparing for the Washington Redskins game where we hit a rough patch and a rough stretch.

Honestly, I missed that game and another game. I came back. All of a sudden, I’m in the game playing as a fourth wide receiver against who? The undefeated Patriots for the final regular season game. That is the regular season buildup where I’m out of the picture and, all of a sudden, I’m in the picture. Jeremy Shockey gets hurt. We go for more three-wide and four-wide. To me, the build-up was my entire journey looking for a moment of validation, looking for pounding the pavement, earning my stripes, getting knocked back down, and finally arriving at this place where things are paying the price even up to the point of losing the most precious woman aside from my wife arguably at the time formatively.

All of a sudden, we’re catching this wave through the end of the season and the playoffs. Here’s the little engine that can’t make its way. What’s notoriously told is the Friday practice before the Super Bowl where I drop almost everything. It was the worst practice of my life. Forget my NFL career. You call it Friday practice. It’s like a dress rehearsal.

You take a walk-through.

You get some situations in football. It’s not the absolute walkthrough, but it’s you slowing down. We wanted to be crisp and it was anything but crisp. I’m taking all practical reps because he’s slipping in showers and doing all the crazy stuff. We don’t know if he’s playing. It was a horrible practice, but honestly, I didn’t give it any thought at all. I’ve never taken them from yesterday’s work to the next day. Eli came to me after the practice and said, “You’ve been a gamer. I know you’ll be ready.” That’s where it was and I left it out there and went out. 

I want to say a pretty cool story that I have shared. The spiritual side was at an all-time high the night before. My teammate’s mom was a pastor in Jacksonville. She says, “David, we prayed the night before the game.” I said, “I’ll take a little blessing. Whatever you got, I’m taking it. I need it.” She said, “We were praying.” She said, “David, God is quickening your feet. He’s giving you the high speed like the feet of a deer to jump high.” I’m like, “Okay.” She says, “God is putting spiritual glue on your hands.” She’s this radical man. She’s like a charismatic woman from Jacksonville who got a gold tooth from the mouth. She’s great, but she’s just a real normal person in the grand scheme of life. She says, “God is putting spiritual glue on your hands.” “I’ll take that, too.” She says, “The Lord is going to give you the big play.”

Can I call her? I got some sports bets I want to know.

You might need to. In my head, I’m thinking, “There’s a play that was designed for me in the game. They call this play. I promise I’ll give you all.” They did. I scored a touchdown to go ahead in the fourth quarter. I’m thinking that’s the big play. Someone says, “The world will no longer remember you as a special team player but as a warrior.” Those four things he said to me hit all to the tee. That’s how I knew that it was bigger than me when the moment came. We hear it at the sound of it.

Did you think you caught it?

I know I caught it.

You didn’t know if it hit the ground though.

I never knew that it was on my helmet at all. I didn’t see it until I got back to the hotel. I gave Eli all the credit. After, I finally said, “Give me a little bit of that back. You did your thing.”

You can’t let anything in a bottle. What a lot of people may not know is that was your last game in the NFL.

It was the last catch. I had injuries the next year and was cut from the Giants in the seventh season in training camp. By week four, I got brought on with the Ravens as a swan songs special teams year, big shout out to John Harbaugh. It was a great organization but that’s all I did in a special teams.

You retired that year and were like, “What am I going to do? What am I going to do with this?” You’ve got this thing that can be a blessing and a curse. You are known by this one thing, but you’ve taken this and created a lot of good around it. Did you know what was next?

I didn’t. My identity was secure. My family life was strong. It is whatever makes you strong as a human with security in the transition phase. I didn’t invest a lot of time into what I was going to be the best next. That’s the biggest drop-off from transition for NFL athletes. You’re the best in the world, athletes in general. 

Also, part of the team.

You have a natural ecosystem that you belong in. Unless you’re intentional about paving the pathway out, then there’s going to be some insecurities moving out. My financial adviser was trying to create a lane for me to figure it out and it was a bad experiment. He had ideas that were fully fleshed out. For about a year and a half, I was floating around not sure what I wanted to do. I’m working around with him and we ended up putting something together, but it didn’t fit.

I started to utilize my network and resources. Troy Vincent has been one of the most profound mentors to me. I was able to find my way back into the player development space. That’s where I landed and served up until 2020 in athlete development, which is leadership development, transition assistance, and total wellness. It’s the comprehensive service on and off the field of the athlete.

It fits well for me. I’m service-driven and people-driven. It’s an opportunity to be good at something while still learning to protect my craft. It’s not just the business of sport. I grab hold of new market sectors and understand what life looks like. I enjoy learning things outside of the world. It’s not that you perfect sports. If you’re not intentionally engaging in other areas, the only other area why was my spiritual life on a very deep intense level. That was the blind spot for me.

Athletes should not only focus on sports. Find enjoyment in learning and engaging in other areas. Click to Tweet

I know you focused a lot on leadership. When I heard you talk, one of the proudest areas of leadership for you was your family, your kids, and the type of father that you wanted to be. Talk a little bit about that. What are the parenting principles that you’ve learned through life?

That’s a little capsize. This is the best that I can do. 

You have a big family.

I do. We homeschool for several years. We’re a few years away from a fifteen-year stretch and have seven children. We’re Christian. People will look at us like we’re the Navy SEALS of the Christian community if you want to call it that. At the end of the day, I’m like, “Do you do anything halfway?” I don’t have that mentality. When I drink alcohol, I drink my alcohol straight. It’s all in. Let’s do this. You learn how to grow and love.

If there are principles to it, it is love and discipline. Love doesn’t lie. I feel like the biggest need in the leadership space is understanding the truest context of leading with love. Love isn’t like this effeminate term. It’s extremely muscular. Family brings that to the surface in a profound way. We’ve disciplined our children, whether that’s all forms. Not just one. 

Elevate with Robert Glazer | David Tyree | Helmet Catch

 

By that, I assume you mean you’ve held them accountable. You have you have standards and rules in your family.

High standards. We have a saying, “Love makes the best of its recipients.” That can be true in the workplace. That can be true amongst the coaching community or a team community. If I love you, I won’t lower the bar. That means I don’t think well of you. When a coach is not giving you their attention, it means that they determine that it’s not worth their time, energy, or effort. Those are things that students, athletes, and employees should take inventory of.

You’re a real athlete. In my suburb, I see a lot of people who are not athletes who want their kids to be athletes and this is what we see. What you basically said in the anecdote is that love seems conditional. The standard is how you get the love. You perform well. You get my adoration. It seems hard. I’ve watched some of these segments or NFL films. Some of them had brutal parents.

I watched Barry Sanders one and he was he said something that was fascinating at the end of his football life. He said, “I don’t think that my kids will be the type of athlete I was because I’m not willing to do to them what my father did to me,” which was a very powerful thing. You said love is unconditional but we have these high standards.

It’s great to note that because I believe there’s radically life-changing unconditional love that we have to offer then there’s affirmation that every child is looking for that is also hurt. There’s some affirmation that my kids are going to have to earn. I believe a man is a man when you tell him he’s a man, and until then, he’s a young man. There are certain things that we have to be okay with withholding, but that’s not withholding love. That’s withholding honor. Those are distinct attributes that if you’re keen and aware of, you can understand like, “I’m proud of you. I’ll never stop loving you, but that effort that you gave was unacceptable.” I’m not going to lie to you about it. My love is not going to devalue.

You have several years of homeschooling both you and your wife.

My wife is the pioneer and I’m the superintendent. I made sure she had everything that she needed.

A substitute teacher and the superintendent.

I get in the ring every now and then. She’s a certified nurse-midwife trade and she sacrificed a lot. I think we sacrificed a lot. We raised seven kids in North Jersey.

You got a lot of teams.

It’s never-ending.

I bet there’s a lot more talking back to the teacher now.

My wife is a real star. People think that I’m hardcore.

What do they do? Do you have some athletes? Are they all across the board?

When you have seven children, you have limited bandwidth. We gave my boys exposure and opportunity. When they were younger, they lacked initiative. I wasn’t willing to make something for them. One of them probably would have benefited if I kept with it. I’m like, “I can’t make this my passion. This has to be yours. I want to be into what you’re into.” The game is a massive hurdle. I’ve been very conscious of screen time and games. That wasn’t something I was going to give my son over to completely. That would create tension in our relationship with them as teams. I fought that battle.

That is the fight in every household. My wife and I talked about this. There’s an addictive property to these things even though they’re not physically or chemically addictive. If your kid was sitting there drinking beer in their room, you would not be a bad person for going and taking it out or drugs or otherwise. There’s this peer pressure thing of like, “You’re a horrible parent for doing this.” You’re like, “I see that this is unhealthy. I see that this is excess.” People don’t treat it like these other classes of things, but the data would say that it causes them to be depressed. If there were other things that your kids were doing chemically that you knew had the same outcome, you would have no regret about shutting them down.

Trust me, it’s in front of us. We can look into their eyes and see many of them feel away from the screen looking like zombies. Once you see it, it hurts your heart a little bit. It’s like, “Are you okay? Are you with me?” They’re blinking. You can see that they’re humans. We need human interaction. Most of our advancements are 150 years old. 

Our hardware is old.

Humans have been around for centuries. We’re in this information technology and now AI. This is some seriously dangerous stuff we are making. We’re social driving and mechanically driving outcomes and humans are subject to it. If you do not intend on pulling your kids out of the fire, then you need to be okay with an outcome that you probably didn’t sign up for.

David, what’s keeping you busy? I know you’ve got a whole bunch of different business initiatives and nonprofits. Give us an overview of your little growing empire.

2020 was a turbulent transition out of the NFL front office with the Giants. In March to May 2020, the Giants went on in a different direction. It’s professionally tough, but that’s life. In June, we were stuck with a single-unit franchise in the middle of the pandemic, and I was planning on still working full-time. I had a great plan and that’s what happened in life where there are circumstances you can’t control. It forced me to be who I am. When you’re in the ocean, you sink or swim. We swam through it. I was able to leverage my own name and get into some media opportunities. I was doing a lot of work. I was doing some respective work with MSG.

I do enjoy the perfecting of offering my story, keynote speaking, and consulting. I am aligning my brain with different companies and properties where my own insight and information as a leader along my journey and experience value works well with them. I’ve been focused on the keynote and it’s been successful. Along with that, there are a couple of consulting clients on the coaching side and brand alignment side. We’ve launched the Catch the Moment Podcast. There are always a few other little long-term plays with the eSports company and ESG and having some role in that myself. I am connecting them with Shawne Merriman and LeSean McCoy. There are projects in the tow but primarily has been, “Let’s get back out there and tell people the story behind what the catch has been like.”

You’ve talked about a lot of your work, particularly maybe in the last couple of months, which is the need for greater character in the world. I know you’ve tried to fill that need through mentorship. What are some of the principles that you share and the people that you mentor? What’s your focus?

The focus is integrity and understanding the depth of what character is. The simplified definition is who we are when no one’s looking but fully understanding the process of self-development. Here are a few keynotes that I don’t share. I will break down what I call the four core components of your character, which are your values, what drives you, and what drives you would align you. The second one is your identity. How do you see yourself? Dangerous things are potentially our I am statements, “I was born to play football.” That’s a dangerous way.

That’s defining you based on what you do. Not based on who you are.

You have your values and your identity. You have emotional stability. The first year back in the front office was Odell Beckham Jr’s rookie year. We know if there was any liability to Odell’s and James’ career, probably the only liability was his inability to channel those dynamic emotions in a profitable way. I missed the New York media market. It’s tough. Your emotional stability is the third component. The fourth component is your discipline or self-control. It is the ability to do what you don’t want to do. I’m into this reality of self-awareness as my superpower. I had a keen sense of what I was and what I wasn’t and was able to position my strengths and maximize them to add value to whatever ecosystem team that I went into.

That’s the only reason why I had an NFL career. If it wasn’t for me looking at that white space of special teams and saying, “I’ll take the crumbs,” then there is no six-round pick. I was just looking for a chance. “Give me a chance to do good things.” The next thing you know, I’m carving out a fair opportunity which leads to, fortunately, that moment of true affirmation for me as a receiver. I know that I’m more than just a special teams player, but I got to go prove that.

I know I wasn’t flexible. I’m not going to lie to myself like, “If he drops one pass, they’re going to get over it. If I drop one pass, they’re going to say this is why these guys not playing.” I understood things like that and that I had a blessed margin for error. Those are the things that I try to help people begin to contextualize, see themselves in, and create a roadmap to close the gap and maximize their stress while they’re still fortifying their liabilities.

Learn how to create your very own roadmap to close the gap in your life. Find out how to maximize your stress while fortifying your liabilities. Click to Tweet

I have a last question for you. I say this is multi-choice. It’s singular, repeated, professional, or personal. What’s a mistake that you made that you learn the most from?

I made so many.

You only have to pick one.

If I had to choose one, I’d pick the most recent one. What set my pandemic experience into a frenzy was I used my home as an SBA loan for the business. We made the decision that we weren’t going to move. We looked at moving and I used my home to secure the loan. It took us almost a year to build out this space that has our stories. It’s now called Tyree’s Table, but we had a transition from under the franchise. Over that year, the market shifts and it’s like, “If we thought about selling the home, let’s sell the home.” We get all the way to closing day and our lawyers miss this thing and the whole process.

We got to lien on it and we can’t close. Here I am, with ten people in my home and I’m next to being homeless. What I realized is that it was another opportunity to take a deeper dive into being accountable and owning every detail of the process. There is a main thing, but the detail is what brings forth excellence. It is that super minor detail, “Should I have had some support where somebody backs me up on the process?” My mindset of being ownership and being shrewd through the process would have maybe potentially covered and not been such a tumultuous transition in so many different areas.

Some things might not be completely affordable. When I look at it, it still gives me the chance to take a little bit of ownership of it and find out what the gem is and what opportunity is. Had I been there before? No. Should I have some help? Probably, but at the end of the day, that was a liability on my end that I didn’t cover well. The ownership mentality and what I call owning your world is deep into taking those mistakes and poor decisions and making them lifelong lessons because they cost you something. It cost me a lot of energy in the middle of a tough time in transition.

That’s a great one. David, where can people learn about you, your work, and all the things that you’re doing?

The easiest way is to the website, DavidTyree85.com. We’ll try to keep that freshen up to date from speaking, coaching, collaborating, and consulting. I’m excited about where we are now. It’s been an interesting journey from being close to sports but getting people up to date on what several years look after.

I can’t believe it’s been that long.

It’s wild. We lost the camp to celebrate, which is a unique camp that marries sports, the game of football on the field, and leadership development careers in sports. We’re excited to get some investors and some exposure to that and grow that cross-scale because that’s been my life. It is how the game or how sports create unique opportunities, learning lessons in life, and leadership. Now that the business of sports is fully mature, there’s every opportunity for families to equip their children with these antidotes and create lifelong opportunities and sports, not just when the game is over. Feed the dream. Paint the reality.

There are opportunities for families to equip their children with an antidote to create a lifelong sports career. It is not just when the game is over. Feed the dream and paint the reality. Click to Tweet

David, thanks for joining us and sharing your amazing story. Congrats on the years since that catch.

I appreciate you having me. It’s a great time to talk.

To our readers, thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to follow the show on whatever app you’re using to be notified about new episodes and have them downloaded automatically. Thanks again for your support. Until next time, keep elevating.

 

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