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Where Are They Now

Where Are They Now: James Carpenter

Catch Up with the Former Jets Offensive Lineman


After finishing the previous two seasons as Seattle's starting left guard in Super Bowl's XLVIII and XLIX, on the first day James Carpenter became an unrestricted free agent in 2015, the Jets were figuratively camping out on his doorstep with a contract offer in hand.

And it paid off to be at the front of the line.

"To be honest with you, I just really took the first one that I had," Carpenter said. "It was a good deal, and I was like, 'Who wouldn't want to live close to New York?' So me and my wife, we just thought it was a good fit for us."

The Seahawks' first-round pick, 25th overall, in the 2011 NFL Draft, Carpenter played in 50 regular- and post-season games, with 44 starts, the previous four seasons. New York's first-year head coach Todd Bowles and his staff hoped to see that what the Super Bowl Sunday veteran showed on the field in Seattle accompanied him to the East Coast.

"When I got there, they expected me to bring leadership and to bring some of the winning-type play that I did in Seattle," Carpenter said. "I didn't know too much about Coach Bowles, but I'm glad I got to know him. He's an awesome guy. He was like, 'Just bring that and you'll fit in great.' And that's what I tried to do."

Carpenter stepped in and felt great between a pair of veterans who were both in their tenth season with the Jets – left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold. But he only played along alongside Ferguson that one season.

"I really wish we could have had more time to play with each other. I begged Brick to stay just one more year," Carpenter laughed. "Because that first year with the Jets, that was amazing. I mean, it was a huge blessing to be able to play beside them two. Everybody knew who those two guys were. Even when I was with Seattle and I was a young player, I knew who they were.

"And I heard stories when I signed there. It was awesome how they brought their leadership at that age, too. And they still had it! It was pretty cool to see. I know how it is to be at year 10, because I was year 10 with the Falcons (in 2020), so I know how hard it was. I appreciated that he was there just that one year. It was an amazing time."

After only playing one season with Ferguson and two with Mangold, once they were gone in 2017, Carpenter's seventh year in the NFL, it was he who was being looked upon to be a leader on the field and in the locker room.

"I knew I had to step up. And I did that. I grew up and was just trying to get there. I wish I could've helped us win. But still, I brought it every day like it was my last day. Till the wheels fell off. I just cared about helping my team. We didn't end up winning the championship, but I appreciated all the guys because we really worked hard," Carpenter said.

"That's what I take from it. I was with a bunch of great guys at the Jets. We tried. The offensive line, I know we did. Brian Winters worked as hard as possible. Breno (Giacomini) always brought it. (Ben) Ijalana brought it every day. And that's all you can really ask for. Just being in the locker room with those guys, every day was a great experience. I still can't get that, you know, as a retired guy."

After spending four seasons each with the Seahawks and the Jets, Carpenter went on to play for Atlanta, New Orleans, and Baltimore, before retiring in 2022. What makes him most proud of his 11-year career?

"That I gave all I had. That's my proudest thing. Every day, I tried to step up and give everything I had. And I believe I did that," Carpenter said. "Football and the NFL helped me become the man I am today, with my work ethic and taking pride in what I do. Just learning how to work hard."

Carpenter is currently working hard to earn his master's degree in biblical studies from the Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL, and will graduate next May.

"Four years ago, I found the love of Jesus," Carpenter said. "(And when I complete my degree) I want to just find ways in ministry to proclaim the gospel, probably in the FCA, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes."

The father of four, Carpenter and his wife, Anjelica, make their home in the Orlando area where he also coaches the offensive line at Dr. Phillips High School.

"What I enjoy about coaching is that I can mentor them. I can try to help them get a work ethic, be disciplined, and to be better human beings," said Carpenter, who previously coached at the Master's Academy in Oviedo, FL, and helped win the Florida Private School Championship. "Some people don't get it yet, and I'd just like to help them get there in a way that doesn't degrade them."

And when Carpenter sees that he's gotten through and the kids pick up on what he's trying to teach them…

"Oh, it's amazing. That's the best feeling ever. Coaching last year, I was like, 'What took me so long?'" he laughed. "I don't teach them high school techniques; I teach them the techniques that I learned in the NFL. So seeing them actually doing that, and talking to me about football in a way like it's a language itself, that makes me feel good."

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