New York (AFP) – Sharrod Neisman refused to give in to the doubts that crept into his head, flashes of …
NEW YORK (Associated Press) – Sharrod Neisman refused to give in to the doubts that crept into his head, flashes of negativity that tried to threaten the dreams and goals he knew he would achieve.
Not when he was told he wasn’t good enough to play in the top flight football. Not when he worked two jobs between high school and college, waiting to play again. Not when a knee injury and a change in training clouded the future of football.
“Since the jump, I’ve always supported the ropes,” the New York Jets safety team told the Associated Press in a phone interview. “It was always like, ‘Okay, this is going to be a fight. “
The 30-year-old Neasman has had an NFL journey full of twists, turns and twists that may have gone off course for many. The fact that he’s in his sixth pro season – against all odds – is a study in resilience and perseverance.
“I’m not going to lie, there were some tough times,” Nisman said. “I was like, ‘Oh man, am I going to be able to do this?’ Because I grew up in my own city, I saw a lot of people chasing football for a long time and eventually wasting their time, you know what I’m saying?
“So I was like, ‘Did I become that guy? “
Nisman was raised in South Florida, one of five children raised by his mother, Latanya, in a single-parent home. He became a star footballer at Braden River High School in Bradenton, Florida, as a broad receiver who also returned kicks and kicks. But his team was only minimally recruited by Division I schools and Neasman received no scholarship offers.
So he took the blurry, blurry video of his football highlights from YouTube and edited it using skills he learned in one of his TV production classes. He scoured the Internet to find the email addresses of as many First Division coaches and assistants as possible, flooding their inbox.
Then wait for Nesman.
Knowing he’d have to pay some major bills when he got into college, he started at FedEx, loading trucks from 3 a.m. to 8 a.m., and then headed to the mall, where he worked as a part-time sales assistant at PacSun. Neasman is even suitable for some community college courses.
This went on for a year and a half.
“I was at a point in my life where I was letting the noise get to me,” Niesmann admitted. “People were like, ‘You still trying to play ball? “And I was like, ‘I need to move on with my life, but, yeah, I’m still trying to play ball.'”
In June 2011, the NFL shutdown prompted players scrambling to find ways to stay in shape. At the nearby IMG Academy, players like Cam Newton, Randall Cope and Chris Winky were training and needed more receivers. Neasman’s brother Markell, who played quarterback for Central Florida and Grand Valley State, told him to come.
“I’ve been training with them and practicing with them, and it has really instilled confidence in me,” Nisman said. “I was like, You know what? This is very possible and very achievable.”
And then — finally — he called Florida Atlantic.
They didn’t have any scholarships or favorite places to walk, but Niesmann could try for the soccer team once he was accepted into the school.
He entered and then was one of five test players out of about 100 players who joined the team. Neasman was quickly converted from a wide receiver to a cornerback, and he made a smooth transition.
“I just wanted to play ball,” he said.
But after his second season, he tore the ACL in one of his knees and coach Carl Bellini was sent off. Charlie Partridge took over as coach and Niesmann’s place on the team wasn’t secure.
Neasman met Partridge and told him that he had been awarded a scholarship in his freshman year. Partridge wanted to honor that, but told Neasman he needed to get back on the field first.
He underwent ACL repair surgery in December 2012. Somehow Neasman was back in the field five months later – and awarded the scholarship.
He played corner, nickelback and safety as a junior, then became a full-time safety as a senior. He got the attention of the NFL teams and although he went without drafting, Atlanta signed him as a free agent.
As a rookie, he played in the Super Bowl.
He had two stints with the Falcons over a five-year period, with a training camp hiatus in New Orleans in between. Neasman signed with the Jets in June and played mostly as a backup in 11 games, including one start, with his first career intercepted.
He will likely come out this week against Tampa Bay as he recovers from a bout with COVID-19. Nisman feels better and is grateful for his journey.
“I am very blessed,” said Nisman. “By God, I have been in a very fortunate position to play a sport that I love. I am so grateful.”
Through the Kings Academy in Orlando, a prep school founded by his brother Markel to help develop male leaders, Neasman has dedicated himself to inspiring young people.
He has donated nearly $60,000 to the cause, which the Jets gave as part of the NFL’s “Inspire Change” initiative. Neasman shares his story to show others that they, too, can make their dreams come true.
“I had some bad points where I doubted myself and never really got involved in, like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to the NFL and I’m going to have a great career,’” Niesmann said. “I knew that from high school, but I didn’t always express that opinion to people. Because I didn’t want to hear my dream fall apart. And it didn’t really matter because I believed what I believed in. …I just feel like getting this message across to people, little kids, and from the situation I’m in, it’s just going to make them not give up.
“You’re going to make them work harder and they’ll be like, ‘Okay, look at him. “Because it happened to me, right?”
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