When I told Donnie Abraham he has an odd yet impressive distinction in Jets history — he’s still the franchise’s only cornerback ever to return an interception and a fumble for touchdowns in the same season — he sounded pleased.
“Wow, I didn’t know that,” Abraham said from his newest gig as the defensive backs coach for the Arena League’s Tampa Bay Storm. “My three years there I thought was pretty decent. It was the second half of my career being there, being an older player, being a smarter player. I thought I contributed to a team, which I think every player in this league wants to do, He wants to contribute, he wants to be accountable.”
Herm Edwards knew all that, which is why, after his first year as the Jets’ head coach in 2001, he helped transport Abraham from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers up I-95 to the Jets and the Meadowlands as an unrestricted free agent.
“Donnie was kind of a unique deal,” Edwards, who came to the Jets from his stint as the Bucs’ DBs coach and assistant head coach, told me today. “John Lynch was already there when I got there. Donnie was the first guy we drafted our first year. The next year was Ronde Barber, the next year was Brian Kelly. All those guys were built the same way. They were very smart, they wanted to learn the game. All four of those guys could coach. That was a pretty good secondary.”
Edwards broke it up by plugging Abraham into the Jets’ secondary at left corner. He started all 18 games, including playoffs, in ’02. The next year he opened at LCB for two games, then hurt his shoulder and sat out eight games before backing up the rest of the year.
In ’04 he was back to being an 18-game starter, and that’s when he had his happy returns — a 41-yard return of a Rudi Johnson fumble in the season opener against Cincinnati on Sept. 12, then three weeks later a 66-yard pick-six of Jay Fielder at Miami on Oct. 3.
“We needed Donnie,” said Edwards, who the last few years has added his voice and insight to ESPN’s NFL studio team. “We needed a guy who was new but who understood the system, especially the secondary, and could explain it to the guys. It’s one thing when a coach tells the players, but it’s another thing when a player can tell them, ‘This is why we’re doing this.’ “
“I didn’t really know what to expect when I came to the Jets — I was in one place my whole career,” Abraham said. “I did go to New York with a familiar face in Herm Edwards, but when I got there, I thought the organization was great. I was born and raised all my life down south. Then to go up north to the big city and all the media, that was definitely different. But as far as the organization and my three years there, I thought it was pretty decent.”
For more on Abraham’s new coaching career, see my news story here.
Here are the seven players who had at least one interception return and one fumble return for touchdowns in their Jets careers, and the four who had at least one of each in the same season (*fumble-return TD came on special teams):
|Player||1st IR TD||1st FR TD||Same Yr|
|LB Larry Grantham||1970||1962||……..|
|S Burgess Owens||1974||1974*||1974|
|LB Greg Buttle||1977||1976||……..|
|S Darrol Ray||1980||1980||1980|
|S Erik McMillan||1988||1989||1989|
|LB Mo Lewis||1994||2001||……..|
|CB Donnie Abraham||2004||2004||2004|
Tags: Brian Kelly, Donnie Abraham, Herm Edwards, John Lynch, Ronde Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Posted in Randy Lange | 8 Comments »