You can often learn a lot about a player from the nicknames and catchphrases he gives himself or that are given to him.
Ahmad Carroll, the Jets' cornerback and special-teamer, is known as "Batman," for example. The name was given to him for his precocious athleticism back in his youth football days in Atlanta, when, as the story goes, he repeatedly beat the opposing center by swooping over him superhero-style.
But Carroll also has a phrase that captures his essence. It's "Humble Grind."
"My brother, Ayinde, and I, we've always said we were grinding every day," Ahmad told me at his locker the other day. "Grind means to work hard, diligently, in a job that you like. And at the same time you want to be humble in it. So I said that's a nice name."
It's the name of Carroll's charity group, Humble Grind Foundation. And this is the time of year Ahmad shells out for the kids of Atlanta with Easter eggs and more when he and his family and foundation stage their annual "Humble Hunt."
"This is the fourth year we're doing it," he explained. "We have the Easter egg hunt the day before Easter. We invite a lot of kids from the community — there's a Boys and Girls Club not too far from my house. We have a DJ, we serve food, we have three moonwalks and a Ferris wheel and a guy who comes through dressed as an Easter bunny."
Kids who uncover one of the five "golden eggs" during the hunt will be taking home a little more than egg salad.
Carroll's organization was created, it says on his sharp-looking Website, "to self-empower youth to build solid futures and achieve personal and career-oriented goals, which lead to success. We aim to enrich lives with athleticism, health education, academics and career development while implementing life skills that will lead to personal success."
Ahmad welcomes kids who are in the Atlanta area to come visit the Humble Hunt. The event will be held a week from Saturday, April 11, and location and more information can be found at myspace.com/humblegrind.
Carroll has decided to grind for another season with the Jets, re-signing with them shortly after the start of the unrestricted free agency signing period. Even though he's joining something of a new team — head coach Rex Ryan and his coaching team — staying with the Jets for a second year brings stability to his career, which entered a roller-coaster period after his last full season with Green Bay in 2005.
"It's a little early to tell," he said of his place in the new regime, "but I'm enjoying the meetings we're having, the coaching staff. Last year the coaches told me I did a great job on teams so now I've got to come in and do an even better job. It should be no problem for me to help and contribute where I can on defense and special teams."
Carroll likes Ryan's and coordinator Mike Pettine's scheme, which is new, and the nucleus of last year's secondary, which has returned.
"I want to win the division," he said. "Everybody's goal in the NFL, it becomes redundant to say, is to win the Super Bowl. But this is the first off-season program I've been in where everybody's here, everybody's competing and everybody's enjoying it. We're missing TJ [Thomas Jones], but it's unheard of that you'd be missing one guy. Around the league, four, five, six, seven guys are missing from every team."
Carroll will be doing all he can again, and perhaps this year he'll find his own golden egg or two.
Lyons Checking In
I promised you a "Jets Two-Minute Drive" show with Marty Lyons on Thursday and didn't deliver. But we are set up to talk with the Jets radio analyst in about a half-hour, so I'm going to tease you again and tell you to check newyorkjets.com for Eric Allen's and my Lyons interview beginning later this afternoon.