NY Giants ‘helmet catch’ hero David Tyree plows nearly $500K in juice store franchise deal that turns sour

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He should have passed on this deal.

New York Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree says he plowed nearly $500,000 in a botched investment in a healthy juice franchise — which he bought into with exaggerated promises of big profits.

The former NFL wide receiver — whose spectacular helmet catch helped the Giants win the Super Bowl in 2008 — was squeezed dry after sinking his money into Clean Juice, which was promoted by former football star Tim Tebow and included investors like MMA champ T.J. Dillashaw, he told The Post in an exclusive interview.

Tyree said the company promised good owners would make a mid-six-figure yearly store income, but his outlet only made a $10,000 net profit a year — despite posting sales that were actually good for a Clean Juice franchise as his location’s revenue was almost always in the top 25-percent of stores.

David Tyree with one of the most amazing catches in Super Bowl history. AP

“In the first year, my father-in-law, myself, and two sons were working for free,” his wife Leilah Tyree told The Post. “If we’re near the top in sales, what’s going on here?”

The former All-Pro and his wife first learned about Clean Juice in 2019, when they traveled to North Carolina and were undergoing an annual juice cleanse ritual to detoxify their bodies.

“They had a great product,” David Tyree told The Post.

Feeling juiced about the health drink, Tyree arranged a meeting with company CEO and Co-founder Landon Eckles. He quickly hit it off with the Tyrees, as he professed to be a devout Christian like them and said it was a faith-based chain.

The dad of seven — who was working as the Giants head of player development — was also looking for some extra income after the end of his playing days, during which his largest contract was a 5-year-$6.5 million deal with the G-men.

David Tyree and his wife Leilah have converted their Clean Juice into Tyree’s Table and are back to cold-pressing fruits. Tamara Beckwith

So Tyree decided to pay roughly $40,000 for a Clean Juice license and an additional $450,000 for equipment — including a $30,000 cold press machine — and open a location in Morristown, New Jersey.

The NFL star said he hoped to make a tidy profit with Clean Press, as the company claimed in federal filings that a decent operator can make a $400,000 gross profit from one store.

Soon, Clean Juice became more than secondary income, as the Giants in June 2020 declined to renew Tyree’s contract as its director of player development.

Now, their Morristown, New Jersey location is Tryee’s Table. Tamara Beckwith

“I didn’t plan on being a full time entrepreneur,” Tyree told The Post.

The Tyrees on June 26, 2020 opened the location, as The Post reported at the time. The best-selling items were cold pressed juices. They charged $70 for 6 16-ounce cold pressed juices that were made in-house as part of a one-day cleanse, Leilah Tyree said.

People going through a juice cleanse almost exclusively drink fruit and vegetable juices for as long as their diets last.

Tyree’s Table used to be a Clean Juice, as shown when it opened in 2020. Robert Sabo

But things didn’t go as planned.

He soon found that the store could only produce about $10,000 in profits annually — things got worse when company leaders forced franchisees to stop selling fresh pressed juice and instead sell juice that was already bottled off-site.

“After the first year, I was easily able to see I can’t support my family,” Tyree told The Post.

Many of the other 120 Clean Juice locations were also struggling, sources said.

Tim Tebow is Clean Juice’s Brand Ambassador and told franchisees in 2022 to keep the faith. Getty Images

To try and appease upset store owners, Eckles then had Tebow throw a Hail Mary.

The former Heisman Trophy winner was the keynote speaker at Clean Juice’s annual conference in August 2022.

He told franchisees who were at the JW Marriott in Charlotte not to let their faith waver and that he went through struggles in his life and kept going, according to a Clean Juice franchisee who was at the conference.

He even gave out his inspirational book Mission Possible.

At the meeting, Clean Juice said the change to bottles would reduce costs and boost sales since they could sell those juices for less.

David Tyree says his family is in an uncomfortable situation. Tamara Beckwith

Not everyone trusted Eckles, sources said, who in 2016 served one year of court ordered probation for forging physician authorizations when working as a district manager at pharmaceutical company Warner Chilcott, according to court records.

The move did not boost sales, sources said.

Juices that had a shelf-life of about five days when made in the store were replaced by juices that could be stored for 30 to 60 days and had less health benefits, a source said.

The $30,000 cold press machines franchisees had bought were now essentially worthless.

“One of the reasons I came into this was the quality of the product,” Leilah told The Post. “We spent so much time educating the clientele and then it became bottled juice.”

“We discovered people hated the bottled juices,” she said.

Profits across the chain fell further.

David Tyree was an NFL All-Pro in 2005 for his special teams play. Paul Bereswill

The Tyrees went to Eckles and in January 2023 showed him that they were struggling to make ends meet. Eckles agreed not to charge them the six percent royalty fee for three months.

“So we were like, we’ll give it a shot,” Leilah said. She didn’t realize, however, that there was language in the fine print of the contract Eckles made them sign requiring them to waive all their legal rights to sue them in exchange for the three months of royalty relief.

There was no meaningful improvement.

Tyree then made a business move that was reminiscent of when he caught a high Eli Manning pass against his helmet while being tackled to keep the Giants winning 2008 Super Bowl drive alive.

The Tyrees, like most other Clean Juice franchisees, spent $30,000 for a cold press machine that now has little resale value. Tamara Beckwith

He converted his Clean Juice to Tyree’s Table in August 2023 where the restaurant now offers a larger range of food including, once again, cold-pressed clean juices made in the store.

But the family is still not making much.

“We have to start from ground zero with no money,” Tyree told The Post.

The Tyrees still owe $238,000 for a Small Business Administration loan to open their Clean Juice store and are stuck in a long-term lease with a landlord it would cost $80,000 to break, Leilah said.

Its been 15 years since David Tyree was an NFL player. N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

“I’ve been in hard circumstances before,” David said, “But this is uncomfortable.”

More than 50 of the Clean Juice operators, one-third of the chain, by fall 2023 formed a franchisee association and hired attorney Leon Hirzel to take legal action against the company, Hirzel said.

Meanwhile, the Eckles family on March 20 sold their seven-bedroom Cornelius, NC home for $4.7 million, and on July 31, 2023 an Erwin, Tenn. home for $1.29 million, according to real estate web-sites. 

They also sold the Clean Juice chain in May to Brix Holdings, owner of Friendly’s and Red Mango.

Landon Eckles’ lawyer Matthew DeAntonio from Bradley Arant said his client declined comment. Tebow did not return calls for comment.

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