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Where Are They Now

Where Are They Now: Leger Douzable

Catch Up with the Former Jets Defensive Lineman

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 22: Defensive tackle Leger Douzable #78 of the New York Jets reacts to a touchdown in the first quarter by the Chicago Bears during a game at MetLife Stadium on September 22, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

Following a training camp with the Vikings, one year on the Giants' practice squad, one year playing for the Rams, two for the Jaguars, and one for the Titans, Leger Douzable definitely had experience when he arrived in New York shortly before the start of the Jets' 2013 training camp.

"There was a need for a defensive lineman that was versatile like me on the team," Douzable said. "And then, also, (defensive line coach) Karl Dunbar was my line coach my rookie year, so there was some familiarity.

"He was like, 'We're looking for a guy that can play the end and also play inside, and I know you can do that because you did it for me when you were younger. And you're just now getting into your prime.' I think at the time, I was 26, just about to turn 27, so I was in the prime of my football."

With three years or less of experience, Douzable's new defensive linemates: Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon "Snacks" Harrison, Sheldon Richardson, and Kendrick Ellis, had the prime of their football ahead of them.

"As soon as I came in there, I was the OG vet, and I was only going into my sixth year," Douzable said. "So I think that was another reason why I signed, to be a veteran presence in the (defensive linemen's) room. I knew we had immense talent in the room, but it was just a lot of young guys."

All of them had two more years of experience in 2015 when Rex Ryan and his coaching staff were let go. The Jets then tabbed another coach with a defensive background to become their new head coach – Todd Bowles.

"It wasn't tough, but it was just weird because I had felt like we had built a real family atmosphere with me and (defensive coordinator) Dennis Thurman, Rex, (assistant defensive line coach Jeff) Weeks, and Dunbar," Douzable said. "I actually was a free agent that year and had a chance to leave to go to Buffalo, but Bowles called and he wanted me to stay. He was like Rex. He liked the skillset that I had as far as being able to be versatile, and how I played in the nickel package as far as getting after the quarterback.

"When I decided to sign back with the Jets, I talked to David Harris, I talked to Calvin Pace, we were the OGs of the team because now I'm in year eight. I'd been around football long enough to know how football works. I was talking to everybody on defense, 'If we don't win this year, they're going to blow this team up.'"

Douzable continued. "Our defense had kind of been the bread and butter of our team, and they added a few pieces. They brought (Darrelle) Revis back, who was a great all-time Jet. They brought (Antonio) Cromartie back, who was a great all-time Jet. I re-signed.

"When a new G.M. comes in (as Mike Maccagnan did in 2015), if you have a good defense or offense, he kind of keeps it together for that one year. And then if it doesn't pan out as far as going to the playoffs and having success, they usually tend to break it up. Which is essentially what happened. Even though we went 10-6 and should have got in the playoffs, we didn't. And the next year, everybody was gone."

Including Douzable, who went on to play with the Bills in 2016, and the 49ers the following season. Ten years in the NFL, including three with the Green & White, what's one of the fondest memories from his days with the Jets?

"It's probably my first memory. Week 1, 2013, we're playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The game's coming down to the wire and it's looking bleak for us at the end," Douzable said. "But we were able to get off the field on defense, the offense goes and put a drive together, and then Nick Folk comes on for a 48-yard field goal, and he makes it as time expires.

"I was on the field goal unit at the time, and I remember running at least 100 yards just around in circles. The energy in MetLife was crazy that day. It's hard to put in words. Nick Folk, we called him 'Folk Hero.' Him kicking that game-winning field goal on opening week, this was my first experience during the regular season being a Jet, and there was nothing like that."

Studying broadcasting at the University of Central Florida, it's what Douzable always wanted to do for a career. Granted, football put it on the backburner, but not off the stove.

During off days while he was playing, Douzable reported and did packages for the NFL Network, SNY, and MSG. And he also wrote articles for Yahoo! Sports and NFL Player Engagement.

And even though Douzable and his girlfriend, Tonya Vanterpool, make their home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, he'll be in a New York State of Mind this fall as a Jets and NFL analyst for SNY. Throughout the season, football fans who tune in will see him working in the studio as well as filing reports from team facilities.

"This is what I wanted to do whether I was going to make it in football or not," Douzable said. "And I think one thing that really resonates with me in broadcasting, it keeps me in the game. It keeps me close to the former teams I used to play with. Even the young generation that's coming up, it keeps me in that circle of football players even though I'm retired.

"There's something about the game of football. It's not like any other game, any other job in the world. It's just totally different. And to be a part of that even though I'm kind of on the outside looking in now as a broadcaster, just being close to that, it just feels like home."