Aaron Glenn still looks the part. He's still lean and well-muscled and looks ready to jump into a team drill if called on. He still has a young man's face, still has a quick smile and keen eyes — although a few silver hairs are fighting for representation among the small patch of black on his chin.
What's more, 18 years after he first arrived in New York as the Jets' first-round draft choice out of Texas A&M and the tiny town of Humble, Texas, A.G. is back with the Jets. He's a member of the team again.
But no, he's not attempting a playing comeback, not a month short of his 40th birthday and 3½ years since he last played a down in the NFL. Rather, Glenn is starting out on a new road in pro football, this time as a scout. His new title: pro personnel assistant.
"I know if I want to get where I'm trying to go, just like as a player, I've got to put in the work," Glenn told newyorkjets.com, taking a break from the work he's already begun, studying players in the pro personnel room. "My plan is to be part of a team, help build that team to win the Super Bowl. My ultimate goal is to be a general manager in the NFL. Like I said before, I'm here to pay my dues."
Glenn called Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum regarding opportunities to begin his scouting career and then attended this year's Senior Bowl and NFL Combine workouts "on my own dime" to observe Mike T, assistant GM Scott Cohen, senior personnel executive Terry Bradway, assistant director of player personnel JoJo Wooden and the Jets' draft team work weigh-ins and player interviews.
"There are no better guys to learn from than Mike, Scott, Terry and JoJo," Glenn said. "Another close friend of mine is Bill Parcells, who I talked to during this whole transition.
"I guess the humbling part, the part I'm most proud of, is being able to come back to the team that gave me a shot, my first opportunity to set foot on an NFL field and be part of an NFL roster, gave me a chance to show what I feel I could do in this league," Glenn said. "I think that's important to me, to show that no matter where I went, I had a soft spot in my heart for the team that gave me my first opportunity."
Packing a Big Punch on the Corner
And fans had a soft spot for No. 31, the 5'9", 185-pound corner who played big for eight Jets seasons and 15 in all in the NFL. He made the Pro Bowl wearing green in 1997 and '98, led the Jets in interceptions in '96, '98 and '01, and his 24 interceptions as a Jet are tied for third in franchise history and tied with only James Hasty for most picks by a cornerback.
A.G.'s 100-yard touchdown return of a Dan Marino interception at Miami in 1996 was only the second 100-yard play in franchise history, and his 104-yard return of a missed field goal at Indianapolis in 1998 was the longest in league history for four years. He's the only Jet with two 100-yard plays to his credit.
Add in his seasons with Houston, Dallas, Jacksonville and New Orleans and he finished with 41 INTs (tied for 71st in NFL history), six interception-return TDs (tied for 14th) and three Pro Bowls
Not surprisingly, after playing in more than 200 pro games, Aaron wanted to stay in the game. But coaching and broadcasting just weren't what he was looking for.
"Coaching's a little different, I would say. I felt like my calling was to do this," he said. "I knew this is where my niche was. I feel comfortable doing this. I felt I could best serve a team doing this, learning the nuts and bolts, sit and watch and listen and be part of a program.
"First In, Last Out"
Glenn is starting in pro personnel, then college scouting could follow from there. If the requirements of the job call for him to pull up his Houston roots and resink them in North Jersey, he's ready to do that.
"I met my wife, Devaney, in college and we were married after my second year with the Jets. She's been on this road with me a long time," he said. "If the direction is to relocate, we're all for it. It doesn't scare me. I like it here. It's a great opportunity to come back and really show what I want to do. This is the first time I've been to this facility, but my wife spent a good amount of time in the North Jersey area. We kind of know this place and we like this place."
What comes through in meeting up with Glenn again and going over old times and new is that he continues to love hard work, the game and the Jets, for whom he is again a piece to the puzzle of constructing a championship football team.
"I was always first in, last out as a player. I know it takes time to be a GM, and I will put in the time," he said. "Whatever steps I can do, whatever role they want me to play, I'm willing to do it. If they wanted me to go cover the best receiver on the other team, I was willing to do that. If it was something else, I was willing to do that. "This is fun for me. I can't beat that," he said before returning to his video. "I played ball for a living and now I get to watch ball for a living. What more can you ask for?"