(Photo via nypost.com)
I truly dreaded the day when this would come, but unfortunately it has. The cornerstone of the Jets roster, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, has decided to retire from the NFL and leave the New York Jets stranded. As a die-hard fan, this is a crushing blow. As any Jets fan would know, let alone any NFL fan, the Brick was a class act, a leader among men. He let his performance do the talking, not his actual voice. I personally remember him getting drafted 4th overall in the 2006 draft, a move undesired at the time, but I knew this man was something special.
D’Brickashaw Ferguson fully lived up to his name: the Brick Wall. He started every game for the Jets for 10 full seasons (10,352 snaps), and only missed one snap in the process: a failed trick play at the end of the 2008 season. And frankly, no one could underestimate his leadership and integrity both on and off the field. He never appeared on the injury report, which is special in its own right. But he was much more than that; Ferguson was a true competitor and a role model for all players looking to find their place in this league. He never had off-the-field issues, let alone any on-the-field issues, that would normally alter a man’s reputation.
As the Jets move forward, they must address this pressing need at left tackle. I can definitely see them concocting a plan to bring in a veteran to take Brick’s spot, but it is a near certain possibility that they will address this need in the draft. I would like to see either Jack Conklin or Taylor Decker fall to the Jets’ spot at the 20th pick, but that seems unlikely. Instead, I look for them to draft an edge rusher in the first round, another big need of theirs, and possibly go after a Jason Spriggs or Germain Ifedi in the 2nd round. But whatever the case may be, no one can truly replace the hallmark OT that was D’Brickashaw Ferguson.
There is a reason why Ferguson broke the huddle after every game. He was the man everyone trusted; you knew what you were going to get with him. A hard-working, team-above-self mentality that trickled down to the rest of the organization. He certainly went through tough years with the Jets, as any Jets fan would know, but he didn’t waver in performance. He was strong, consistent, and impactful in every game, every snap, and every minute.
As a man soon to enter the Jets’ Ring of Honor, I owe great gratitude to the Brick Wall himself. He was the foundation of the locker room. Although he wouldn’t say it himself, you knew his presence was felt among all players. He didn’t speak much, so much so that people often questioned his love for the game. But that is a false assessment of who he was. D’Brickashaw loved the game more than ever, so much so that he never wanted himself to ever be better than the game itself.
While some might think that 32 years is too young to retire, at least he knows when to hang up his cleats. He understands that if he’s not playing up to his level of excellence, then what’s the point at all? He knew what imitations were, and understood that his time as an all-pro left tackle was behind him. But if anyone understood what he meant to the Jets’ franchise, let alone any other franchise in the league, you would understand that the Brick was a champion of the game; a true professional, and someone who will be dearly missed. All I can say is, thank you Brick. You were an ironman in the trenches, a master of your craft, and equipped with unique skills that stood above the rest. You will always stand above the rest.
– J. Yellin