With over 1,000 receiving yards in five straight seasons, Amani Toomer was one of the most underrated wideouts of his era.
For one reason or another, some athletes don’t garner the nationwide attention they deserve for being an exceptional athlete. This is the case for former New York Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer, who played for the team from 1996-2008.
Toomer is the franchise leader in receptions (668), receiving yards (9,497), and receiving touchdowns (54) and is a member of the Giants Ring of Honor. He also holds the franchise record for most consecutive games with a reception (98). More importantly, he was a member of the 2007 Giants team that defeated the 18-0 New England Patriots in Super Bowl 42.
He additionally returned punts from 1996-99 and then again in 2001. Three of the punts were returned for scores.
Yet, outside of fans and media members in the Metropolitan area, he is seldom mentioned for his productivity and clutch gene. This is probably due to the fact that he played in an era in which there were several outstanding and future Hall of Fame receivers in the NFC — Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Cris Carter, and Isaac Bruce.
But even with all of the elite receivers in that conference, it’s surprising Toomer never made the Pro Bowl.
The Giants took Toomer in the second round (No. 34 overall) of the 1996 draft after he underwent a stellar career at the University of Michigan. During his collegiate days, he was named first-team All-Big Ten in 1994 and second-team All-Big Ten in 1995.
He experienced a slow start to his NFL career, having caught just 17 passes in his first two seasons while appearing in 23 games.
Toomer’s production then picked up in 1998, when he caught 27 passes for 360 yards and five touchdowns. He made arguably the biggest play of the season in Week 15 against the 13-0 Denver Broncos — the eventual Super Bowl champions. He ultimately caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Kent Graham with 48 seconds remaining that eventually gave the Giants a 20-16 victory.
The touchdown against the Broncos would be the beginning of what was to come from Toomer.
Amani had 1,000-yard receiving campaigns in each of the following five seasons (1999-2003). He additionally helped the Giants advance to Super Bowl 35 during the 2000 campaign. Throughout the five-year span, he recorded a total of 374 receptions for 5,731 yards and 31 touchdowns.
In the Giants’ three postseason games during the 2000 campaign, including the Super Bowl, he notched 10 receptions for 135 yards and one score.
Toomer had perhaps his best game in the Giants’ 39-38 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the 2002 Wild Card round. During that matchup, he racked up eight receptions for 136 yards and three touchdowns.
Toomer never topped 1,000 yards after the 2003 season, and when the Giants signed free agent Plaxico Burress in 2005, he was no longer the team’s No. 1 receiver. Nonetheless, he was still a reliable option for quarterback Eli Manning.
Amani caught another game-winning touchdown against the Denver Broncos in Big Blue’s 24-23 victory in Week 7 of the 2005 season. This would be the final game Giants owner Wellington Mara would witness, as he would pass away two days later.
In Week 2 of the 2006 season, he recorded a career-high 12 receptions for 137 yards and two touchdowns in the Giants’ 30-24 overtime victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Toomer’s 2006 season would last just eight games due to a partially torn ACL.
He would play in all 16 games in 2007, catching 59 passes for 760 yards and three touchdowns. In the four-game playoff run that culminated with the Giants’ 17-14 victory in Super Bowl 42, Toomer caught 21 balls for 280 yards and three touchdowns. While the plays made by Burress and David Tyree are remembered the most from that game, it was Toomer that led the team in both receptions (6) and receiving yards (84).
His Giants tenure would end after the following season, a year in which he notched 48 catches for 580 yards and four touchdowns.
There may have been more talented receivers in the history of the franchise, such as Odell Beckham Jr. But when you factor in his longevity and production, it’s without question that Toomer is the greatest Giants wideout of all-time.
He didn’t receive the national recognition that he undoubtedly deserved. Regardless, he indeed earned the only distinction that anyone that’s ever played the game wants — to be a world champion.