If you want to know what makes new Jets linebacker Bart Scott tick, you can start with his relationship with Giants running back Brandon Jacobs — the two attended Southern Illinois together not long ago.
"I talked to Brandon already. He welcomed me in and I'm happy for him that he got his deal. It's well deserved," Scott told newyorkjets.com today. "I look forward to keeping in touch with him and spending time with him while he's here."
Except for the third preseason game, when the Jets and Giants meet on the field and everyone not wearing green and white will be Scott's sworn enemy.
"I say this a lot, but if my mother put on another color jersey, I would try to destroy her. When we play old friends, I don't shake their hands, I don't speak to them. You try to get your friends, I believe, more than you try to get any other opponent, because you've got to see your friends. If he runs you over or he puts a move on you, you're going to hear about it. It's going to live. So you try to kill all urban legends when you can."
"I had that same thing with Brandon. We went to the same college. Somebody has to be the hero. I was there before him, so I felt like I was the bigger legend. Whenever it was me and him in the hole, I had to make sure that I won."
Those quotes tell us a whole lot about the dichotomy that exists in Scott, who signed perhaps the biggest deal of the first day of the NFL's unrestricted free agency signing period late Friday to leave the Baltimore Ravens and anchor Rex Ryan's and Mike Pettine's retooled Jets defense.
On the field, Scott is, as we know, "the Madbacker," a nickname bestowed on him by another of the Ravens' superb linebackers, Terrell Suggs.
"Terrell came in the year after me. He was starting, I was playing special teams," he said. "Every time there was a squirmish [yes, he said 'squirmish,' a great bit of word play] or an altercation, they realized it was either caused by me or I was involved in it. It's just a funny thing. I play football, I've played it all my life, but I don't like people to touch me."
The way around that seeming paradox is to touch the opponents a whole lot harder than they touch you. Scott said he and the Ravens' D, perennially in the NFL's top five in Ryan's four years as coordinator, would keep track of the team they just played to see who landed on the next week's injury report and inactive list and how the team did the follow Sunday.
"I try and be violent every opportunity I get," he said of his between-the-lines personality. "I feel football is a game of wills, and if you have two people clashing with each other, it's going to hurt both players, but I'm willing to take the pain longer than I believe my opponent is, even if it hurts me. And I think that's something the fans will see — a lot of violent attempts and collisions, but they'll also see me get up and they'll see me continue to throw and never waver. No jabs, nothing but power blows."
Yet off the field, Scott is bigtime into touching and being touched by his community (and we don't just mean chatting up Jacobs at a charity function). His list of good works is prodigious, from feeding the homeless at a mission to implementing programs at local elementary schools to working with paraplegics and quadriplegics.
"That's actually how my charity started. My cousin was a victim of senseless violence. He was sitting in a bar, somebody shot the bar up and he took a bullet in his back," Scott explained. "That's something I'm proud of because a lot of times that's the type of cause that goes undone. A lot of people are uncomfortable around people like that because you don't know how to act.
"What I've come to realize is that it's just as uncomfortable for them as it is for you. But that's still not a reason for them not to be represented and for them not to feel love and to receive the things that other charities receive."
Scott and his wife, Darnesha, will continue to work with the charities they established in Maryland but adds "I want to plant some seeds here too." And that's in the New York area, a place that his family has loved and visited even while playing in Baltimore and had hopes someday of playing here. Those hopes have been realized, all to the tune of one of the richest deals to be struck between club and player in franchise history.
"It's like the cherry on top," he said. "The opportunity to come to a place that really wants me and courted me is good enough for me. But the financial part, that allows me to concentrate strictly on football. I don't have to worry about anything else but coming to work and getting better. And what better city to come to than New York, and with some of the awesome players we have already."
It's the same market that Jacobs, his good friend and classmate, has thrived in. So they talk about the old school and their careers all they want, right up until late August, when the Jets and Giants stage their traditional preseason matchup and Scott should literally run into Jacobs a few times.
"That's all good with me," Scott said. "I have no problems with that."
The "Wheel" Deal
Bart Scott will make his first New York television appearance this evening when he pays a visit to SNY's "Wheelhouse" program that begins at 5:30 p.m.