The New York Giants announced Tuesday it has hired former player David Tyree as Director of Player Development — a move the Human Rights Campaign quickly condemned due to Tyree's past comments in opposition to LGBT rights.
During the push for marriage equality in New York state in 2011, Tyree spoke out against the legislation for the National Organization for Marriage, saying in a video, "If this does come forth, this will be the beginning of our country sliding to — its a strong word — but anarchy." HRC also pointed out that Tyree has spoken in support of gay conversion therapy, which aims to turn gay people straight, having said on Twitter in 2011 that he had met "former homosexuals" and that there is "no scientific data to support the claim of being born gay."
"When did Tyree decide to be straight?" HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. "The idea that someone can change their sexual orientation or gender identity is ludicrous, and the New York Giants are risking their credibility by hiring someone who publicly advocates this junk science. His opposition to basic legal equality aside, David Tyree's proselytizing of such dangerous practices goes against the positive work the Giants organization has done in recent years."
Tyree played for the Giants from 2003 to 2008. In the announcement of his hiring, the team lauded Tyree for making one of the "greatest catches in NFL history" that ultimately propelled the team to victory in Super Bowl XLII in 2008. Coach Tom Coughlin, welcomed Tyree back to the team, saying he will essentially watch over and mentor new players.
"Player engagement has become extremely important in any franchise," Coughlin said in a statement. "It is the working relationship with the players to aid them in their continuing education, their development as young men, the opportunities in the business world and in networking in the city that they happen to be playing in. It is there to help instruct them, make them aware of the issues and the problems that exist out in the community and the world to try to keep them focused on their job and not fall into trouble."
An email seeking comment from the Giants was not immediately returned.
At a press conference Wednesday New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese defended the team's decision to hire Tyree.
"We do our due diligence on everybody we try to hire around here," Reese said. "David, number one, was qualified for the job and we think he's a terrific fit for us and we're happy to have him on board."
When asked if the team had any concerns about Tyree's previous comments on LGBT rights, Reese said he didn't want to comment on social issues and Tyree's opinions.
"This day and age, sometimes you say some things that maybe you don't want to say or shouldn't have said or something like that and things can get blown out of proportion to a degree," he said. "But I'm not here to talk about social issues or somebody's personal opinion about their beliefs."
"I believe everybody should be treated equal. I believe everybody should be treated fairly. I believe everybody should have an opinion, to you know, what they want to say," he said. "And most of all, I believe that I should mind my own business and try to keep the plank out of my own eye, that's what I believe the most."
When pressed again by a reporter, Reese said that was the most he would say on the topic and that the team is happy to have Tyree on the staff.