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Giants’ early woes sparked Tyree to share faith, leadership for turnaround

EDITOR’S NOTE: Art Stricklin, a sports correspondent for Baptist Press and director of ministry relations for Marketplace Ministries in Dallas, is reporting daily from Phoenix with exclusive coverage for BP readers about the spiritual side of Super Bowl XLII.

PHOENIX (BP)-—Wide receiver David Tyree said he has been with the New York Giants long enough that the Big Apple’s media know better than to come to him for an interview unless they’re prepared to hear first about his faith in Jesus Christ.

When the Giants’ season floundered at 0-2 this year and an usually high number of players were injured or out for the season, Tyree penned a letter to every member of the team expressing his faith that God could still impact the Giants for good in many ways.

“I just said I know God wants to do something special for this team if we give Him the glory. Let’s believe in Him to do something special and honor Him by staying strong for God.”

As expected from a large team with a multitude of beliefs, Tyree received a range of reactions from believers and non-believers. But he said sharing his heart for God through the letter allowed him to witness to his teammates in the toughest of circumstances.

“This has been a year of grace for us and we need to show God’s power in all we do,” Tyree said during the Giants media day Tuesday in Phoenix, site of Sunday’s Super Bowl XLII.

“It’s a bigger issue to give God the glory,” Tyree said, “and to believe in God’s greatness than anything the Giants have done.”

Linebacker Reggie Torbor wasn’t surprised by Tyree’s team-wide letter, only glad to see his good friend take a bold stand for his faith.

“You know you’re not by yourself on this team,” Torbor said. “You can’t do this job by yourself. You need the Lord and you need your Christian brothers.

“David is somebody who has been through the tough times and lived his faith and that’s encouraging.”

Tyree, who has been a key offensive piece in the Giants’ surprising run to the NFC title, said he was determined to appreciate the week in Phoenix because of the depths he has seen the Lord take him from in his life and his career.

As Tyree disclosed in a Baptist Press feature last year, his life was headed to a dead end via alcohol and a drug possession arrest shortly after he was drafted by the Giants out of Syracuse five years ago.

“It is truly God’s grace that has allowed me to be here for this game,” Tyree said. “He used my trouble to allow me to find salvation in Him and to live a fulfilled life.”

Tyree said he was mentored by former Giants quarterback and NFL spiritual leader Kurt Warner, along with his local pastor in New Jersey and his wife.

“I am living God’s faithfulness for what He has done in my life. Not everybody gets the New York Giants and why we are here, but I feel He has His hand on this team to show Himself strong,” Tyree added.

Torbor said he accepted Christ into his life while playing football at Auburn University and that has helped him with the often-unpredictable life of an NFL player.

“There are a lot of problems in this world and this game and there is no way you can handle them all without Him,” Torbor said. “I like to stay humble and give God all the glory. David is more upfront with his faith, but we both are seeking to honor Him.”

With the glare of more than 3,000 media members at the annual Super Bowl media session, each looking for a different story, piece of information or inside gossip, Torbor said he finds his faith being tested daily.

“It gets harder in the spotlight, not easier. You have to feed the spirit and stay in the Word,” Torbor said. “I know I’m not alone and that makes all the difference to me.”

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  • Art Stricklin