Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was named our fourth AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year tonight. The first, back in 1988, was safety Erik McMillan. Both were Missouri Tigers.
If you thought it would be neat to hear what McMillan thought about a schoolmate 25 years his junior winning the same award, well, we can tell you: McMillan is all a-Twitter.
"I know exactly what it's like — it was absolutely phenomenal," McMillan told me tonight at the loud and proud night session at Jets House, our green oasis in Manhattan in this Orange (for Denver) and Blue (for Seattle) week before Sunday's Super Bowl XLVIII meeting between the Broncos and Seahawks at MetLife Stadium.
"I think making Rookie of the Year was more precious to me than making the Pro Bowl, because there's one guy in the whole world, that's all — me. I got that, I earned that. And you're only a rookie one time.
"So kudos to Sheldon, man. And I'm going to put it on my social media, I'm going to blast that out. I'm so proud of him."
Perhaps you'd also be curious about what someone like, oh, Mark Gastineau thought of Richardson's honor. Gastineau was a DE, of course, but played alongside some pretty good DTs on the Sack Exchange, won a big prize of his own — the 1984 AFC Defensive Player of the Year from UPI — and also happened to be at Jets House tonight.
"It's such a wonderful honor. I mean, it speaks for itself," Gastineau told me upon his arrival around 8:30 p.m. ET. "You have to be playing great to be in that position, and it's going to make him realize what he was as a rookie and he's got that bar that's going to be set pretty high now.
"But as far as what I've heard about this player, I know he's got a lot of drive and a lot of heart. And you know what? You can't keep somebody like that down, so he's going to be around and he's going to help the Jets for a long time."
We don't have reaction from every one of Richardson's defensive partners or his coaches, but we did get a good variety of exclusive comment from some of Sheldon's current teammates and some more from a few of proud Jets alumni, all of whom were on the scene at Jets House.
Second-year S Antonio Allen, one of Richardson's defensive mates, was at the event. "Sheldon definitely deserves all the credit he's getting," Double-A said. "He's a hard worker, a tremendous guy in the locker room with tremendous energy. He's just a great guy and it shows on the field. For him to be a rookie and come in and do what he did for us is big-time."
Several offensive teammates were also on hand and gave Sheldon Richardson a hand for his achievement.
WR David Nelson — "As a teammate, you see him working every single day, you know how much that stuff means to him. And I think it's very well-deserved. No player at any level, rookie, veteran, no matter who it is — he was one of the most dominant players in the league this year. You saw the way he played, relentlessly. I'm extremely proud of him and excited for what the future holds for him."
TE Jeff Cumberland —** "It just shows how committed he was to the team, how determined he was. You could see it at practice. Each day you saw he got better and better as well as smarter and smarter. Like watching tackles and guards, he was picking up certain tells. He'd tell our other guys, 'When this guy's feet are like this, he's pulling.' He was so real smart for a rookie and he deserved it."
Fellow rookie C Dalton Freeman — "I never played him [in college] but obviously I heard about him. At the facility I saw, walking through the doors, that he was going to be pretty special, and he solidified that when we walked into practice for the first time as well. And he was not only great for our team but he was great for the league. And really, the defensive linemen coming in being really athletic guys, he's the epitome of that."
Finally we bring you two more alums who were just as proud as any wearer of the green and white at Jets House could be on this night.
Former CB Bobby "Bo-Jack" Jackson — "No doubt. he deserved it. He had a great season and I'm glad we got him. I think moving forward, with him, Muhammad Wilkerson and the rest of the guys on defense, if we get a little bit more help, I think the defense is going to be even more outstanding."
Former D-Lineman Bobby "Dawg" Hamilton — "You know, I've been following this guy a long time, watching the TV at home when he was at Missouri, because I'm a football addict. That guy was good, and you know the history of the New York Jets, they always bring in good players on the D-line, it never fails, and they've got another outstanding player here — he deserved to go to the Pro Bowl this year, too, and he deserved the award, and all he has to do is continue to work and show what he's about."