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Where Are They Now

Where Are They Now: Jeremiah Attaochu

Catch Up with the Jets Legend from Nigeria


His photo wasn't hanging on a bulletin board in the post office, but on the first day of free agency in 2018, Jeremiah Attaochu was a wanted man.

After completing his rookie contract with the San Diego turned Los Angeles Chargers and becoming a free agent, the outside linebacker was contacted by the Jets and 49ers. A 90-minute flight versus a cross-country trip gave San Francisco a logistics victory over New York and the first chance to make a pitch.

"I was already on the West Coast, so I went to San Francisco. They made me feel real good, promised me a starting spot, and all that," Attaochu said. "I thought it was a good fit for me, and I signed with them."

But suffering a calf injury during the third preseason game led to the 49ers releasing Attaochu in their training camp's final cut, and him looking back to when free agency began.

"Once the Niners released me, (Jets Coach) Todd Bowles called, and I was in New York the next day," Attaochu said. "I didn't know anybody, fish out of water, and I played the first game (of the regular season seven days later on Monday Night Football) in Detroit. It was kind of a really interesting experience for me. And as fate would have it, I ended up with the Jets anyway, so that means that was where God wanted me to be."

In that season-opener against the Lions, Attaochu contributed on defense and special teams to help New York win, 48-17.

"Roles were already assigned, so I was kind of the guy that had to like do everything and run around," Attaochu said. "But I was active. I was playing. I learned the playbook really fast. And I really helped the team out early in that season. So it was a very quick turnaround for me. I was able to get on my feet, but (Bowles) didn't really put too much pressure on me. He was just pretty much like, 'Hey, we wanted you in free agency. We think you're going to help us.'"

Granted, he was going to be helping guys who had bonded together for months during OTA's, training camp, and the preseason, but Attaochu fit right in. Even if he wasn't initially on a first-name, or for that matter, a last-name basis, with his new teammates.

"Kevin Greene was our (outside linebackers) coach and he made it very important to tell everybody that I was the new guy," Attaochu laughed. "Nobody called me by my name for like the first month. They were calling me the new guy even though I was in year six or seven. It was a humbling experience, but it was fun. And then after a while we would get another new guy and then we would call him the new guy. It was cool."

Playing in 11 games in 2018, Attaochu strip sacked Denver's Case Keenum in Week 5, sacked Miami's Brock Osweiler in Week 9, and had nine tackles, before spending the final two weeks of the season on injured reserve.

And even though Attaochu spent only the one season with New York, he enjoyed "watching the young Jamal Adam try to lead the Jets locker room." And playing in front of the Green & White's fans.

"What set them apart (from others around the league) is definitely the loyalty," he said. "The stadium was always packed. I played in San Diego for four years, and it was very fair-weather. People have better things to do on Sundays. But the Jets' stadiums were always full. Their fan base runs deep."

After being chosen by the Chargers in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Georgia Tech, Attaochu went on to the 49ers, Jets, Broncos, Bears, Ravens and Chargers again. What makes him most proud of his career?

"I'll definitely say the perseverance. I lived in eight different cities in 10 years, so I was definitely a true journeyman," Attaochu said. "And every year I was in the league, I had a different position coach or head coach, so I definitely met a lot of different people. I got to get the whole experience of it. I got to see America. I really got to experience cultures."

Making his home in Atlanta and San Diego, Attaochu is still experiencing cultures. A native of Nigeria who moved to Washington, D. C. when he was a child, Attaochu is giving back to his homeland through a company he founded, African Metaverse.

"I always had aspirations to go back and help do things. So I built a 30,000 square foot school in Ibadan, Nigeria. Right now, we're at 40 students and we're going up to 200. We're trying to get the students proficient in tech, agriculture and hospitality by the time they leave high school," Attaochu said.

"My mom has been helping with that. She would go back and forth and hire the teachers and do all the administrative stuff. And I'm promoting it and trying to make sure that I'm really putting my mark on it because I was a benefactor of a lot of people's goodwill. I got an opportunity to leave the (Washington) D.C. public school system through No Child Left Behind and ended up going to Rock Creek International School, and was able to really get a bigger worldview.

"The trajectory of my life changed. I've always felt the need to if you can take a kid, give them an opportunity and put them in a different position, they can really change the trajectory of their lives. So pretty much my purpose in life right now is to just create opportunities the same way a lot of people gave me.

"My coach in (Washington D.C.'s Archbishop Carroll) high school, Rick Houchen, saw something in me and promoted me to college coaches. I'm really thankful for people like him. I'm really thankful for people like Dick and Linda Swenson from Menomonie, Wisconsin, who when my dad moved to the U.S., they helped him get settled in. A lot of people helped me to get to where I am today. So I definitely feel the, I wouldn't call it guilt, but I feel a strong urge to put people in position."

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