NFL players can become legends in a couple of different ways. The most common path to legendary status is by putting together a Hall of Fame career, consistently performing at a high level and earning a place in the history books.
Some NFL legends earned their titles by performing in one game, turning in an epic performance during an opportunity on a big stage. Even fewer legends of the game made their name through one play. They did something unforgettable, despite an otherwise unspectacular career. Here are three of those players known simply for one defining moment.
NFL players who became legendary through one career-defining play
#1 - Tracy Porter, New Orleans Saints
Tracy Porter was always a solid cornerback throughout his career, but never quite reached an elite level. He earned zero Pro Bowls and All-Pros. He, however, will always be remembered for one play during Super Bowl XLIV, which helped the New Orleans Saints defeat the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts were trailing by a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but Peyton Manning had his team driving toward the end zone. Tracy Porter jumped an intended pass to Reggie Wayne and returned it all the way for a Saints touchdown, ending Manning's comeback attempt.
#2 - Malcolm Butler, New England Patriots
Malcolm Butler earned one Pro Bowl selection across his first seven seasons in the NFL. His career-defining moment came during Super Bowl XLIX when he made a game-clinching play for the New England Patriots to defeat the Seattle Seahawks.
The Patriots led the Seahawks by four points with 20 seconds remaining in the game, but Russell Wilson had an opportunity to win it from the one-yard line. Wilson attempted a slant pass to Ricardo Lockette, but Butler jumped the route and intercepted the ball in the endzone, sealing the victory for the Patriots.
#3 - David Tyree, New York Giants
David Tyree recorded just 650 total receiving yards across six seasons in the NFL. It would be a forgettable career if it weren't for one of the most famous plays of all time, known as The Helmet Catch.
On a crucial third down in the final two minutes of Super Bowl XLII, Tyree made an acrobat catch against the side of his helmet after Eli Manning escaped being sacked to keep the New York Giants' drive alive. Manning threw a game-winning touchdown just four plays later to ruin the Patriots' perfect season.