Kenyatta Wright made an impression that kept on giving.
An undrafted free agent linebacker from Oklahoma State, Wright caught the attention of Buffalo's defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell, and made the Bills' roster in 2000. Two seasons later, Wright was a veteran free agent and Cottrell was the defensive coordinator of the Jets.
"I actually was in camp with Tampa Bay and got hurt and was out," Wright said. "Ted called and said, 'I want you to come and work out for the Jets. I'd really love to get you here, but you'd have to obviously go through the process.' Ted always believed in me. So I went and worked out and actually signed the same day."
By signing with the Jets, if Wright hoped to spend many days with the Green & White, he would have to make another impression. This time on New York's special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff.
"He didn't want Ted to sign me because he had another guy that he wanted to sign. But Ted really wanted me," Wright said. "Mike's writing a book, and he said I proved him wrong and not very many people had done that in his career in the NFL. And so he put me in the book as one of the greatest special teams players that he's ever coached. That means a lot to me and it kind of defines that mentality that I told him, 'You may not believe in me today, but you will.'
"Mike was a great coach. He did so many things that people didn't even think of in the NFL. It was just the little intricacies of him developing game plans."
The Jets went 6-10 during Wright's first season. That was followed with a 10-6 record and making the playoffs in 2004. The key to the turnaround?
"The real key was everyone collectively coming together. And if you talk to Mike Westhoff, we had probably the best couple years with special teams. We were really electric. A lot of times in the NFL, not saying that special teams aren't important, but we were scoring, we were blocking punts, and providing a lot of excitement," Wright said.
"We had a lot of good guys that could transition into roles on the team. So it was just a matter of all of us coming together that year and we made a pretty good run.
"One of the fondest memories is the locker room atmosphere that we had during that time. And the Jets fans provide that atmosphere where everyone's all in this together. You don't get that in a lot of places."
Retiring in 2006, Wright spent three of his five seasons in the NFL with the Jets.
"What made me most proud (of my career) is that during my time as a player, I felt like I did what I could do at the end of the day," Wright said. "I had no regrets over what we accomplished or what I accomplished. And the biggest thing is now my sons are able to see that history and make a history of their own."
Wright has two sons: Elijah, who is a linebacker at the University of Central Oklahoma; and Solomon, a defensive tackle who will be a senior at Vian (Oklahoma) High School in the fall, and has committed to the University of Arkansas.
"I volunteer coach at (Vian High School)," Wright said. "I enjoy the interactions and being able to lead. And not just share my knowledge, but inspire them to be great and make it more than football. Just being able to give them some life skills and challenge them over the things I feel that I've done well. And also the things that I didn't do as well, to guard them against that.
"Man, I just enjoy coaching them. It's the most special time of my life. I've got a lot of cousins on the team and family that are in Little League football and all the way up. I would put this right there with my enjoyment of playing in the NFL."
Wright and his wife, Amber, who make their home in Vian, also have two daughters. Alexis, who is a student at Oklahoma State; and Avery, who is an eighth-grader.
And besides coaching, Wright owns a construction company, Water Stone Interiors. "We do interior and exterior stones, wood floors, countertops," he said. "And my wife has five clothing and apparel boutiques, and I help her with that."
Wright is also helping his NFL brotherhood as President of the Oklahoma Chapter of NFLPA Former Players.
"Our group has been active with the older former players," Wright said. "There was not a lot of younger ones, but now since we've been able to meet virtually, we're doing a lot better reaching the younger former players. And my role, I want to try and get all 200 of them involved. So that's kind of what we're challenged to do right now."