There are mysteries in this world. Why didn't Christ walk the earth at a time of greater worldwide communication? Why wasn't there a sequel to The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension? Why is three always the magic number for illustrative examples used in rhetorical pointmaking? These are questions taken for granted among thinking persons, and among such persons, we reasonably assume that they will go unanswered, perhaps because to answer such questions would be to make sense of something whose capacity for mystery is immutable and eternal. For our purposes, a similarly unanswerable query is "Why have so few NFL greats worn the number 31?"
Yes, I recall Jim Taylor, the gravely reticent Green Bay Packers running back from the 1960's. But there's been remarkably few in the annals of the game with #31. This dearth extends itself to the New York Jets. Number 31 is the first in our collection since #20 that will be covered in one entry. Unless I keep babbling like this.
Sometimes I'm not that bright. Certainly I couldn't be as a bright as I think I am, but often I'm nowhere near as bright as people think I am. Since I am a teacher, this is a reality I tend to keep to myself for professional reasons. If my colleagues are listening closely enough, they will occasionally catch snippets of things I say that are badly thought out or curiously out of tune with basic logic. Less often I will find myself doing it in class, but then I never have to worry about that because my students don't really listen to what I say, anyway. I remember having a deep discussion with somebody while in college about a particular political figure whom I asserted would, in no time, find his image burning in "effiggy" somewhere in the Middle East. That pretty much solidified the end of the argument and created a new line of discussion about how dumb I was. I'm not dumb, but I do and say dumb things on occasion just like everybody else. I may even do it more often than you.
So I feel reasonably at home telling you that when I first saw Marion Barber run for the Dallas Cowboys two seasons ago, I said to myself, "Holy God. He played for the Jets in #31 during the 1980's!" I couldn't quite remember when in the decade, but that shouldn't have mattered. "Just how old is Marion Barber?" I asked myself. Before thinking rationally and consulting the credentials of the Cowboys' running back in question, I decided to calculate the age of the Marion Barber about whom I was thinking. I roughly ascertained that the man I was watching on TV, who was short, powerful-looking and lithe, was probably anywhere between 45 to 50 years old. I regret to say that it took me a few more confused seconds - like the seemingly endless ones we experience when coming out of the stupor of a particularly vivid dream - to realize that I was confusing a father and son. The father the Jet, Marion Barber, Jr; the son a Cowboy and Marion Barber III. There. I've admitted it.
Ahmad Carroll #31 came to the New York Jets from exile in Arena Football after having a remarkable number of firearms convictions in one fell swoop. He was sent there after being cut by Jacksonville in 2006, during a movement in the NFL toward a "no-tolerance policy" regarding criminal activity in the league. (Sadly this way of being was not extended toward the Cincinnati Bengals' uniforms.) He joins Abram Elam as another former member of our secondary who is trying to become a good citizen once again. There were good performances he gave in 2008, particularly against Seattle and Miami - games whose clips we would link to if they did not give us intense pain. After he was let go, he went where all forms of promise go - to the purgatorial world of the Hartford Colonials, formerly of Downing Stadium, NY. Such is the way. You come from Arena Football, you go back to the UFL.