When the New York Jets play the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, they’ll see a familiar face. Here’s why Austin Seferian-Jenkins is a living example of why second chances are vital not just in football, but in life.
The New York Jets took a calculated risk on Sept. 16, 2016, when they claimed Austin Seferian-Jenkins off waivers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
ASJ’s life was a mess and headed for a downward spiral that we had seen countless times in the NFL. Talented athletes flushing their hope and potential down the toilet for another swig of alcohol.
But few people understand that alcoholism is a real disease that affects real people and the world isn’t always as simple as good guys vs. bad guys.
Seferian-Jenkins has made and will make a lot of mistakes in his life, but the Jets were willing to risk it to get the biscuit and their reward paid off. After signing on with the Jets, he had a marginal first season (10 receptions, 110 yards and zero touchdowns). But it was more than the stats. He was slowly putting the pieces of his life back together.
Then he started to blossom in his second season with the Jets. The statistical increase on the field was obvious (50 receptions for 357 yards and three touchdowns). He could’ve had a bigger impact if he wasn’t screwed on several controversial touchdown calls.
Seferian-Jenkins was in the midst of a contract year and it seemed like the consensus was a contract extension was on the way. Fast-forward to the end of the season and the Jets and ASJ were in heated discussion on his worth as a player.
That was the separation between ASJ and the Jets. The green and white offered two-year $8 million to ASJ. His camp countered with a two-year $10 million offer. The Jets didn’t budge because they felt the future at tight end was on their roster in Jordan Leggett. ASJ really wanted to stay with the Jets, but he wanted to maximize his value.
The Jacksonville Jaguars swooped in and stole ASJ and inserted him into the lineup and the rest is history. But not quite. To use as a Game of Thrones reference, the North remembers. Just because ASJ isn’t on the Jets doesn’t mean the fans will forget the impact he had on the team and more importantly during his journey back to balance in his life.
ASJ’s life could’ve gone down the path that we’ve seen so many times before. A high draft pick (former second rounder) who went down a path of drugs or alcohol, spiral out of the league and either wind up in jail or dead. He didn’t, he received a second chance by the Jets and now has taken advantage of that opportunity.
So up next for the Jets they travel to play the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars were in the AFC Championship game the prior season and is a heavy favorite in this contest. But regardless of the score at the end of the game, ASJ with his continued sobriety has shown that everyone deserves a second chance.