An exclusive Q&A with former Giants kicker and 2007 hero Lawrence Tynes:
Lawrence Tynes joined the Giants prior to the 2007 season in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs, for whom he played three seasons. In six years with the Giants, he scored 586 points, the second-highest total in franchise history behind Pete Gogolak's 646 points (despite missing almost the entire 2008 season with a knee injury). Tynes' 59 postseason points are a Giants record. Tynes twice won NFC Championship Games with overtime field goals, the first a 47-yarder in frigid Green Bay on Jan. 20, 2008, and a 31-yarder in San Francisco four years later. The Giants went on to win the Super Bowl each time. Tynes is the only kicker in NFL history with two postseason game-winning field goals in overtime.
Q: What were your thoughts about coming to the Giants in 2007?
Tynes: "I was excited. When I got traded from Kansas City, I had three choices – it was Houston, New Orleans or New York. So (former Chiefs president and general manager) Carl Peterson called me up to his office, because the Chiefs had just drafted a kicker. I had some familiarity with Thomas McGahee (then the Giants' assistant special teams coach). That was really the reason I chose to go to New York; I had been with T-Mac in Kansas City, and he was my coach in NFL Europe. It wasn't really the city or the location, it was just because of him.
"I knew I was in the right place because the boys (twin sons Caleb and Jaden) were born July 6, 2017, and the first set of flowers and balloons that came in was from Tom Coughlin. I was only there for a short period of time, but it just shows you how much he cared about you personally. From that point on I had known that I had picked the right place."
Q: What was the initial vibe that you picked up from the locker room?
Tynes: "I will be honest with you. I was intimidated when I first got there, because coming from Kansas City, which is a great football town, it is not notoriously a big city in the NFL. So I got there the first day of OTA's, I get done with the workout, the media comes in and there are 25-30 cameras and microphones in my face - and I am just a kicker that got traded for Gatorade and a box of tape (actually, a seventh-round draft choice). I am sitting there, this little kid from Milton, Florida that played for the Chiefs and I was a little intimidated at first. But you see (Michael) Strahan and Eli (Manning) and Plaxico Burress, and the guys were all welcoming and pretty chill, to be honest with you. The locker room was a lot more open in New York personality-wise than it was in Kansas City."
Q: The team lost its first two games, but you hit five of six field goal attempts. How important was it to get off to a good start personally?
Tynes: "It was really good. If you remember that year we had a lot of change with (snapper Ryan) Kuehl getting injured in training camp and (rookie) Jay Alford becoming our snapper. The adjustment I had to make was that I got zero practice time with Jay Alford, he was D-tackle. I was used to having the snapper available to me whenever I wanted to work. It was a challenge that year, because I didn't have the time or the reps. To get off to a good start with Jay snapping was a big deal, because we just didn't have the work at the time. We made it work. That was the most challenging year I ever had in terms of, 'How am I going to practice?' and 'When am I a going to get work with Jay?' because of the position he played."
Q: You were also working with a first-year special teams coordinator in Tom Quinn.
Tynes: "The thing I love about Tom is that he is so consistent. He never got real up or down, depending on how you kicked in practice. He is the most consistent guy in terms of mannerisms on game day, and in practice, and that is something that you can really appreciate. He probably got that from Tom Coughlin, but Tom Quinn was pretty easy and I really had some of my best years playing for him. I really liked the way he handled us."
Q: You were pretty consistent that entire season, but you mirrored the team by being great on the road (the Giants didn't lose away from Giants Stadium after opening night).
Tynes: "I don't have a reason for that. I knew late in the season that we had to win some games to get into the playoffs. But the '07 regular season is kind of a blur to me. I obviously remember all of the playoffs game, but we just got hot at the right time, the team bonded and I still say this today to my kids that I coach in soccer and baseball, 'If you guys are a close-knit group, that will take you a lot further than talent will if you care about each other.' Jerry Reese brought in a lot of new guys, we had a really good draft, a lot of rookies were playing, so it just took a while, but we figured it out."
Q: Is it safe to say that you enjoyed playing for Tom Coughlin?
Tynes: "I loved it. People all had this preconceived notion of who he was. I never knew Tom in '06, when everyone was talking about firing him. You play in the NFL and you hear the stories of how tough it is to play for Tom. But I enjoyed it from the moment that I stepped foot on the property there. He was black and white, he was a disciplinarian, but athletes crave discipline. They may not admit it, but consistency and discipline are what you crave, and we had a team that took to his ways and we made it work."
Q: To a man, the players said Tom was calm throughout that playoff run, that he never looked upright despite the high stakes.
Tynes: "He is a pretty composed guy. If anything, he can get pretty ticked off at something, a call or a bonehead play or something like that. But he never really got too high whenever we did something well. I think he was always thinking about the next move. Like, 'What is the next play?' That's kind of his foundation of coaching, 'What is the next play? Move on to the next thing.' I don't think he ever really lived in the moment. He was always thinking about what was next. But yeah, he was really chill throughout the whole season. He didn't even panic when we were 0-2, either. So that has just kind of been his staple. In the six years that I played for him I think that was the one thing that players really liked the most about Tom - win, lose or draw, he was the same guy every Monday when you came in there. Obviously, he would get a little fired up when you were playing in the division, but his mannerisms were so consistent that I think guys liked that and really appreciated that."
Q: The first two playoff games you kicked one field goal. Then you go up to Green Bay for the NFC Championship Game. What was it like kicking a football in the minus-23 wind chill?
Tynes: "There were a lot of challenging things that day and the weather was probably number one. You just have to understand that it is going to be difficult. The tough part for us was I don't think we did more than six warm-up field goals because (holder) Jeff (Feagles') hands were so frozen that he couldn't catch the snap. So that was difficult. As a player, all I rely on is my routine and I wasn't able to have my routine, so I kind of felt unprepared. But I also understood the situation with the weather – I can't make Jeff go out there and hold more balls if he can't catch them, so we just had to deal with it. It was kind of like that mental toughness that Tom instilled in us. Those were definitely the most difficult conditions that I have ever played in, and for the most part that anyone has ever played in."
Q: The cliché is that it is like kicking a rock or a brick. Is that what it felt like?
"It is just hard to kick, because the ball doesn't compress off of your foot. Typically, in anything over 50 or 60 degrees, you kick it and feel the ball kind of bounce off of your foot. You don't get that feeling in those temperatures. People want to say that it is like a rock, but it is kind of weird. It is almost like you are kicking something that isn't there, because you don't get to feel the explosion of the ball off of your foot. You don't feel it when you are playing because of the adrenaline. But after the game I took my sock off and I had this baseball sized lump form right on my foot. I had my foot drained the next day, and then I didn't kick again until like Wednesday the week of the Super Bowl. So I took 10 days off."
Q: Were you huddled around a heater most of the Green Bay game?
Tynes: "I basically lived there. The typical routine was just when we got across the 50 I would get up and stand by the heaters, kick a couple balls into the net and go from there. Thank God they had those heaters. I can't imagine how guys did it prior to the heated seats. I don't know how it is even possible as a kicker, because you are just not active. It is crazy to say this, but after that game I was so physically worn out just trying to stay warm."
Q: Not to bring up unpleasant memories, but in the fourth quarter you missed a 43-yard attempt, and on last play a 36-yarder. What do you remember about those two kicks?
Tynes: "The 43-yarder, I hit that really well. I didn't start it far enough right and so when I hit that I thought I made it, and then I saw it start to drift a little bit left. I did a really good job of compartmentalizing missing and I took the positive out of that and said, 'Man, I almost made it. I hit it really well, but I just didn't play the wind well enough.' So coming back to the sideline I was fine. I think there were seven or eight minutes left in the game, so I was like, 'We are good.' Then we get the one at the end of regulation and that was terrible. That was probably one of the worst kicks I have ever hit in my life. Part of that was the whole operation. It was a little bit of a high snap and I saw Jeff leave his knees to go get it, so the only thing that I can do there to buy time is lean, because I leave when the ball is snapped. So I get there and the ball is not really down, so I start leaning back and left and that is the ultimate no-no. But it is the only thing that I can do to at least try and get it to the upright and I just completely yanked it. That was tough, because anything can happen in overtime. I was angry, but at the end of the day I had to move on and hopefully we would get another chance."
Q: Coughlin said that early in the game he asked you if you could kick a field goal from 46 yards, and you just turned away and walked away from him. Do you remember that?
Tynes: "I don't. I don't really remember that, but maybe if he does then I did. I had earplugs in, so maybe I didn't hear him."
Q: The old earplugs fallback?
Tynes: "The old earplugs fallback. So I probably didn't hear him, the same way that I probably didn't hear him when he was yelling at me after I missed. You can typically hear people when you have those in, but for whatever reason I probably just ignored him."
Q: Did he yell at you after you missed the field goals?
Tynes: "He gave it to me a little bit on the 43-yarder, but the one at the end of regulation he was pretty fired up about, because obviously that was a great opportunity to go ahead and win the game. It is on the NFL Films you can see him, he is kind of getting after me a little bit and I just walked right by him. I didn't hear a word he said."
Q: Was there any fear that you had lost the game when you missed that second kick?
Tynes: "I never once thought that. I don't know why. Maybe it was just the way that our defense was playing. I was a little bit fearful in the fact that we lose the coin toss and we have to give the ball to Brett Favre, (who specialized in) late-game heroics. Of course, we lose the toss and we have to kick off."
Q: Tynes' greatest fear comes to life.
Tynes: "It did. I don't really hold on to misses or makes. I did a really good job with that my whole career. I only missed two field goals in a game three times, and I played a lot of games (123, including playoffs). So it says a lot that if I missed one I typically came back and made the next one. Missing two in a row in those kind of circumstances was tougher to deal with, because it is the NFC Championship. We kicked off and two plays later we had the ball back (when Corey Webster intercepted a Favre pass)."
Q: It was soon fourth-and-five, and Coughlin and Quinn are discussing whether to try a 47-yard field goal. But you made the decision for them by running onto the field.
Tynes: "I think some people look at it like, 'Is this guy nuts? He can't make this.' But people have no idea – like that 43-yarder that I hit had plenty to get there, and it was maybe an hour later. I am sure that it might have been a little colder, but I felt really good about that. I try to take the positive out of everything and I hit that 43-yarder pretty good, so I knew I could get it there. I don't think I attempted any pregame kicks from that far, going that way, but having kicked that ball, I said, 'I can get this there.' So once I saw the passed ball was incomplete, boom, I bolted and was right on the field lining up. I look out there and there is no snapper, no Jeff Feagles and I am looking at the sideline like, 'Where is everybody?' And so I see Tom just kind of talking to Jeff and they shuttled him on to the field and the rest is history. I knew I could make it."
Q: Did you know it was good as soon as you hit it?
Tynes" Yeah, I felt a little bit of compression. With the adrenaline and the situation I really got into it really well and I kept my head down good, we had a good snap, a great hold and I look up and I am like, 'Perfect.' I started it right at the right upright and I knew – I started the other one probably more middle from 43 and missed it left, so I knew I had made it right when it left my foot, right after I looked up and saw it curling in and it went right down the middle."
Q: You didn't wait to accept congratulations, but turned and sprinted to the locker room.
Tynes: "I couldn't wait to get out of there, to be honest. It was an emotional roller coaster, it was freezing cold and I knew we were going to have a celebration and I party in the locker room, so I said, 'Why stay out here any longer?'"
Q: How did you get the ball?
Tynes: "That is a cool story. So (Gordon) "Red" Batty is the longtime Green Bay Packers equipment guy. His brother, Greg Batty, was my equipment manager in the CFL. Whenever the Packers made the playoffs, because the CFL season was over, Greg would come down and help Red out. So I had met with Greg before the game, gave him a big hug, asked him how he was doing. I was with him in the CFL for two years, so obviously we had a relationship there. I was on the bus and literally two seconds before we pulled out, this Green Bay equipment guy walks on - one of their younger staff guys - and he has a bag with a ball in it and he says, 'Is Lawrence Tynes on this bus?' And I said, 'Yeah, I am back here.' And Red had given me the ball that I kicked which, I thought was one of the nicest things ever. I never in a million years thought I would get that ball. So that is how I got the ball."
Q: When everyone started coming into the locker room, what was that like? Was everyone coming up to you?
A: Yeah, anybody and everybody. It was fun because everyone was just so glad to be off the field. But yeah everyone was complimentary and then you get the Seubert's and the O'Hara's the typical, 'You better be glad you made that or wouldn't have been on this flight home.' And I was like, 'You are right. I would have had to live in Green Bay.' I think I said that on Letterman. I was just thankful that I didn't have to live the rest of my life in Green Bay if I had missed it.
Q: What do you remember about the week prior to the Super Bowl?
Tynes: "It was an exciting week. We were kind of out in the middle of nowhere, which was good, I thought, because it was just all of us and our families and the organization and it kind of got our minds right for the whole week. That week flew by. I don't think I left my hotel room. I didn't turn my TV on all week. I didn't watch anything and didn't want to hype it up more than you could possibly hype it up. I just didn't want to build up any anxiety for the game. I knew we had just played that team (New England, in the regular-season finale). So I hung out with family, hung out with teammates; we played a lot of video games and it was an interesting week."
Q: What do you remember about Super Bowl XLII?
Tynes: "The pregame is different. Everything is different. It is definitely nerve-wracking. To would be lying if you said you weren't nervous. You are really nervous until you get out there and you hit a couple balls. All the hype and all of the buildup, really you just want to get out there and do what you do. Nothing was normal. The pregame, the halftime, the game. You can almost vividly remember play-by-play and it's like everything is in slow motion. Fortunately for us, we get off to a good start; we had that long 10-minute drive, and I get to go out there and kick a field goal in the first quarter. It's always good to get a kick out of the way early. I made it and after you get a game rep you feel good and are comfortable, so I was fine after that. But it is a different experience. A Super Bowl is at the highest levels of anxiety that you can possibly have as a player."
Q: Randy Moss scored a touchdown with 2:42 to go. The Giants get the ball back, the Super Bowl is on the line. Are you standing with somebody, talking with somebody, standing by yourself?
Tynes: "I was standing up. It was crunch time and we had all seen Eli do it before, and you are just hoping that you get an opportunity. I didn't realize there was only that much time left. If anyone could do it I knew Eli could. But you are still playing against an 18-0 team. We were confident. It was weird. I never once thought that we were going to lose that game, no matter what the situation. I remember Michael (Strahan) going over and talking to the offensive line and saying, 'You have 2 minutes to score. We are going to win this game.' I remember the big play by David (Tyree), obviously, the crazy catch and then Plaxico's catch. They blitzed everybody and he is wide open in the end zone. I couldn't understand that call."
Q: The Patriots got the ball at their own 26 with 29 seconds left and all three timeouts- but they threw the ball downfield instead of trying to get in position to kick a field goal.
Tynes: "That was nerve-wracking. Yeah, it was bizarre. But then Jay Alford, our long snapper gets a sack. That is probably the first time in NFL history that a long snapper has gotten a sack in the Super Bowl. And then Tom Brady just flung it like 65 yards and I was like, 'Oh my God.' That was the kind of quarterback we were up against. I couldn't understand either, why they weren't trying to matriculate down the field in small chunks."
Q: Do you remember anything in particular about the postgame locker room or the party that night?
Tynes: "I remember being right next to Coughlin when the final whistle blew. I gave him a big ole hug and next thing you know we are world champs and the confetti is falling down and you are scrambling to try and find your family on the field. Then you go into the locker room and my locker room was right next to Eli, so Peyton was in there. But it is kind of a weird feeling, because you know you won it, but it probably doesn't set in until you are flying home the next day. And then you are so amped up and you go to the party and everyone is there. It didn't settle in for me until the parade (two days after the game), because when you see that many New Yorkers out and the confetti in the Canyon of Heroes. That for me still is the highlight of both Super Bowls, those two parades. Those are amazing. To see that many people - some of the streets were 500 deep and it was just amazing. Really fun."
Q: When you win a championship with a group of men are you bonded with them forever?
Tynes: "Oh, 100 percent. Whether it is Dave Tollefson, who lives two hours north of me, or Domenik Hixon, who lives in Pensacola, where I grew up. We all keep close tabs on each other, we all look out for each other. It is an unbreakable bond – to experience highs and lows and climb the highest mountaintop as a group is something that you will never forget. I feel like if I called any one of those 53 guys on that roster tonight if I needed something they would be there tomorrow, so 100 percent. We are just a band of brothers for life, whether you want to be or not, you are going to be bonded forever. That group collectively is like a bond of brothers, all of them. Even when you saw them, like I was in Tampa and I saw Spags (defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo) when he was with the Ravens, and it is like you are seeing your brother that you haven't seen, because he had been gone for a while. And it is just like yesterday when you see a guy that you won a championship with."