Sunday, June 12, 2011

NY Jets #51 - Part 4

James Darling
Number 51 generally belongs to linebackers.  I'm not sure if I mentioned that obvious point earlier.  Dick Butkus.  Bryan Cox.  Before Vilma, James Darling #51 played linebacker for us from 2000-01.  I remember him as selected by the Eagles in 1997, just as Ray Rhodes was beginning his final descent as coach with the team.  He arrived with the Jets just after Parcells left.  He finished with the Arizona Cardinals before they made it to the Super Bowl.  I'm sure he doesn't think of his career this way.  In fact on Wikipedia, he is still mentioned as a free agent, though his career in the NFL nominally ended in 2006.  He is on the "inactive" roster for clients of Schwartz and Feinsod, a list for which Darrelle Revis is naturally "active," though Revis is not actually actively preparing for a future football season any more than James Darling is.  And one does wonder how an inactive free agent can feel any better than an active one in the middle of a Lockout.

Quincy Stewart is not a free agent any longer.  He's a teacher.  He played at linebacker in #51 during the Jets' disappointing 2003 season, but then went on to play for the Edmonton Eskimos team that won the Grey Cup in 2005.  How does it feel to win at something that your own countrymen do not even know is happening?  To be honest, I don't know who won last year's Grey Cup.  Considering that the Edmonton Eskimos were the team that I lazily adopted while watching NBC's coverage of the CFL during the 1982 Strike, maybe I ought to get reacquainted with wider fields, larger end zones, 12 players and three downs.

At any rate, as I mentioned, Quincy Stewart is no longer waiting for that call.  He has followed the path of a predecessor at the number, Ralph Baker, and become an educator after professional football.  I've often spoken about how many broken people there are in the world of NFL retirees, but there are also many cases that I've found of people returning to being role models through coaching in school and in the noble profession of teaching itself.  At Spring Woods High School in Houston, Stewart teaches Biology.  His recent schedule reminds me of why I prefer block scheduling in my job.  He's got to wait until the very end of the day for his prep.


Don Jones #51 has a name that's so innocuous that it seems limitless in its possibilities.  Who is Don Jones?  Who was he?  What's in a name?  He could be anybody, but he is a somebody, just like you or me.  Or not.  Whatever that means.  

Don Jones
He apparently registered one sack with the Jets and Vikings between 1992-94, the years of his career at linebacker in the NFL. But no matter how short your career, one can be a positive influence after it's done. Jones is now apparently a member of a Florida-based organization that trains young football players while "raising funds and awareness for the mission of Operation Homefront-Florida," which provides aid to families of active service people and wounded soldiers. I don't really know what that means, but it certainly sounds admirable. It's not something you would do in combination with soccer; football is, as George Carlin would say, like war, so one might as well use that resemblance to help with monies or with understanding for the people who are bravely enduring the endless, uncertain wars that go on elsewhere while we sit around mourning the loss of football. So there is that.

But Don Jones owns a more personally significant similarity to me.  He and I were both born the same exact day in 1969.  Some 450 miles apart - he in Lynchburg, VA and I in Woodside, Queens - we were brought somewhat simultaneously into this ridiculous world and have each experienced our lifetime's experience, one could argue, in an identically temporal way.

Or have we?  Has he known time more slowly than I?  More quickly?  Has he slept less or more than I?  In his study of how our brains react to and gauge the passing experience of time, David Eagleman suggests that we experience time more slowly if we are experiencing new things, which might explain why most of us feel as though childhood and adolescence lasted much longer than adulthood - assuming, of course, that you aren't still in childhood and adolescence.  Or that you exist.

According to the above link for Touchdown for the Troops, Don Jones has three children.  That must have been time-changing, and it's something I haven't experienced, but does the second child slow down time as much as the first?  Does the novelty wear off?  I quit drinking seven and a half years ago, but in the uncertain years of sobriety that have followed, I feel I haven't slowed my sense of time, even when I've lost the experience of blacking out.  But in the last three years, the Jets went to the AFC Championship two years in a row, I voted for a black President, the home team won the World Series, my wife and I bought a new house, and we got a dog.  So, yes, the last year and a half certainly seem to have slowed down for me.  What has Don Jones done in his adult life that has slowed things down?  Where has he experienced life in a new and more gradual way?  Has Don Jones' life been literally more memorable than mine?  Or have we lived life at the same rate?  


Slimbo said...

I believe we move from one stage of adolescence into another. We cruise for a while, then hit an new patch where we feel ill-fitting, awkward and angry. Then we grow out of that and cruise until our next adolescent stage. I'm on my fourth.

Martin Roche said...