INDIANAPOLIS - David Tyree, one of the heroes of the Giants’ Super Bowl XLII win over the Patriots, has been in touch with Giants receivers Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham and Victor Cruz, who will be playing in the Super Bowl for the first time.
He’s sent text messages to each, letting them know he’ll be there if needed.
“He’s a great guy, humble guy,’’ Nicks said. “Just words of encouragement, taking in the moment and enjoying the whole thing but knowing what you’ve got to do.’’
Tyree’s last season was with the Giants in 2007. He didn’t play in 2008 and he’s been out of football since 2009.
Still, Cruz said, “He’s part of the family.’’
“He let me know that he’s praying for me and he gave me a nice little bible scripture in there,’’ Cruz said. “It feels good to have a guy like that believe in our talent and believe in us. He’s been there and he’s done all the great things and he’s got a Super Bowl ring. I want to sit down with him and chop it up with him and have some conversations.’’
Cruz is the only one of the three Giants receivers to never play with Tyree, but they developed a connection when Tyree visited the locker room during the season.
“There is a lot of parallels in our lives, being from New Jersey, being somewhat anonymous,’’ Tyree said. “It’s just an amazing crew, their entire receiving crew. Watching Eli [Manning] grow up, it’s great to have a part in Giants history and kind of being able to be along for the ride.’’
Giants right tackle Kareem McKenzie was unable to attend the funeral of his former coach Joe Paterno last week because of Super Bowl preparations.
“You would have liked the opportunity to go ahead and pay your respects,’’ said McKenzie, who graduated from Penn State in 2001. “But understanding who Joe is and the type of person he was in terms of his work ethic, I think he would have understood us being focused on winning a championship and making sure we were as well-prepared as possible to play in the Super Bowl.’’
Praise for owners
Both Giants owner John Mara and Patriots owner Robert Kraft played pivotal roles in the labor negotiations that salvaged the season after last summer’s lockout, and Mara said he was happy both teams reached this stage.
“I’m not necessarily happy to be playing Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, I’ll tell you that,’’ he joked. “But I’m very happy for Bob because he put his heart and soul into those negotiations during a very difficult time for him and his family so I think the success they’ve had is well-deserved.’’
Both owners were praised by union head DeMaurice Smith, and Mara said without Kraft they wouldn’t have reached an agreement.
“I don’t think we get to the finish line without Bob Kraft,’’ Mara said.
After Super Bowl XLII, Mara said he ran into Belichick in the tunnel as they walked to their locker rooms and Belichick predicted they’d meet again.
“I shook hands and congratulated him and he said, ‘We’ll play again.’ I remember not particularly believing him. I had a pretty strong sense that they were going to get there but I wasn’t so sure about us and sure enough it happened.
“Then he called me - I can’t remember after which game it was but it was late this season - just to say hello and congratulations for whatever game we had just won and he said, ‘We’ll play again.’ So again, I think that was met with the same bit of skepticism but he turned out to be right.’’
The Giants website yesterday accidentally posted a picture of Manning with the Vince Lombardi Trophy announcing the G-Men as Super Bowl XLVI winners. There also was an ad for official Super Bowl gear.
The page was quickly removed.Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.