It seems like only yesterday — but was really a decade ago this month — that we welcomed D'Brickashaw Ferguson into the Jets family ... learned to pronounce his interesting, literary-sounding first name ... watched him step unflinchingly into the left tackle starting role as a rookie ... appreciated his growth as a player through three Pro Bowl seasons ... marveled at his seemingly indestructible nature.
It seemed like only yesterday we said hello. Today we say goodbye.
D'Brickashaw Ferguson, the native Long Islander who was the fourth overall pick of the 2006 draft, has announced his retirement as an NFL player following 10 outstanding seasons of protecting Green & White quarterbacks' blind sides and opening holes for the Jets' running game.
"I feel good about my decision," Ferguson told newyorkjets.com this week before today's retirement announcement. "I don't think it's ever an easy decision. When you give so much of your time and your energy to any one thing, it's very hard and challenging to switch gears. But I feel this is the right decision to make."
He said his health was not a driving force behind making his transition from player to non-player.
"I think it has more to do with the fact that I was ready to not only do something different but I also recognized that I'm pleased with what I've accomplished," he said. "I think this might be a good time to say I've done what I can, I don't know if I will continue to have the success that I've had if I just continue to go on automatic. I just think this is a good stopping point."
D'Brickashaw Ferguson Never Missed a Game in 10 Seasons, Making 167 Appearances for the Jets
It's been a long and remarkable "journey," as Ferguson referred to his playing career in his heartfelt letter to Jets fans. He came to the Green & White with the fourth selection of that '06 draft out of the University of Virginia.
General manager Mike Maccagnan recalled scouting Ferguson in 2006, when he was with the Texans.
"I was already aware that D'Brickashaw was an outstanding person and player," Maccagnan said. "After joining the Jets last year, I experienced first-hand his professionalism, diligence, reliability and dedication to his craft. His accomplishments on the field are a testament to those attributes and I wish him the best as he transitions into the next phase of his life."
Head coach Todd Bowles expressed similar sentiments after coaching him in 2015.
"I can't speak to his entire career, but I can say how impressed I was with his approach to the game and his commitment to the team," Bowles said. "I knew he was going to work every day and be reliable. A true professional, he always demonstrated a desire to win as well as the discipline to do what is necessary. From my perspective, D'Brickashaw embodied what you want from all of your players."
Jets owner Woody Johnson also sang Ferguson's praises.
"There are a few things you hope for when you select a player fourth overall in the NFL draft," Johnson said. "First, you want him to be a responsible citizen and role model. Second, you want him to be a leader in the locker room. Third, you want him to be reliable while performing at a high level for a number of seasons.
"D'Brickashaw has exceeded each of these expectations during his career and will be remembered as one of the finest players in Jets history. We know that Brick and his wife Kirsten will bring these same qualities and success into the next phase of their life together."
Ferguson's Jets story rests on at least two sturdy pillars:
Playing Excellence: He is one of only four Jets offensive tackles to be named an NFL or AFL all-star. In fact, his three-season run from 2009-11 as an NFL Pro Bowler was the first time a Jets tackle had been named to the Pro Bowl in a quarter of a century. The Jets' other honored tackles: Winston Hill (eight all-star berths, seven in a row from 1967-73), Sherman Plunkett (two-time AFL All-Star in the mid-Sixties) and Marvin Powell (five consecutive Pro Bowl berths from 1979-83).
Ferguson reflected on the 2009 and '10 postseasons, in particular the two playoff meetings against the Colts and DE Dwight Freeney, plus his encounters with the other top pass rushers of that period, as being highlights of his career.
"Going against those guys, you really get a chance to see where you're at, going against the best, and the argument can be made that you're the best," he said. "That's something I remember and I hold special. Nobody can take that away. Those games happened, those exchanges happened. The results of that put me in a nice spotlight."
Iron Constitution: There were 160 Jets games from 2006-15, plus seven more playoff games. As detailed in our sidebar, "Brick's Career: 7 Amazing Facts," Ferguson never missed a game or a start, he played virtually every play in those games, and he literally never missed a regular-season/postseason practice and rarely a preseason practice.
"We used to have two-a-days in training camp and sometimes as 'award winners,' you got to take a practice off. I think I used one of those," he recalled. "A lot of it had to do with how I was groomed back in college. The idea was that the more reps you take, it'll be so ingrained in you that whenever you play, Sundays or Saturdays, you won't ever have to think about it. They threw a lot at you. You're young, physically you can take it. You learn to run through any kind of wall. You can do it.
"I'd been used to that, so when I came into the NFL, I tried to take that same mentality — 'Go-go-go!'
But, he added about his uncanny ability to avoid serious injury for such a long NFL stretch: "I don't think anything I've done is special. I do think it's a miracle and a blessing. I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that."
Ferguson will now have time for other pursuits. He and Kirsten are new parents of a daughter, Eden, and he'll still be visiting his parents, Ed and Rhunette, who traveled to many of the Jets' games, home and away, in his decade of service. And Green & White fans who visited our website the previous two offseasons also know D'Brickashaw is a budding writer with many interests, in the fields of art, literature, film and cooking, to name a few.
However Ferguson sorts out the opportunities ahead, he'll bring his intelligence, passion and professionalism to bear on each and every one. He has a grasp on how to smoothly shift gears, on and now off the field.
"I think there was a kind of revelation I had, in talking with my agent, my wife and my family, and you try to answer the question, What do you really want to do?" he said. "I think a lot of times as athletes we're so much on automatic. Sometimes when something like this happens in your life, it takes you out of that mindset and you've really got to sit back and think, maybe this is a good time to stop, maybe this does make sense to not continue in the same manner.
"This should be a moment I shouldn't necessarily pass up as every other year. I don't want to miss my moment."