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Where Are They Now

Where Are They Now: Pierre Desir

Catch Up with the Jets Legend from Lindenwood

New York Jets cornerback Pierre Desir (35) warms up before an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The list of Lindenwood University football players chosen in an NFL Draft starts and ends with Pierre Desir.

Picked in the fourth round by Cleveland in 2014, the cornerback spent two seasons with the Browns, one with the Chargers, and three with the Colts, before signing as a free agent with the Jets in 2020.

"Talking with the coaches and talking with the staff, I felt like the type of defense that they were implementing would be going towards my strength," Desir said. "And it was kind of a market that I wanted to go in just to showcase what I could do. I felt like it was the best fit for me at the time."

In his second game as a Jet, Desir, who had collected five career interceptions before arriving in New York, notched his first for the Green & White when he picked-off San Francisco's quarterback Nick Mullens and had a 23-yard return in a 31-13 loss to the 49ers.

The Jets came up on the short side of the scoreboard again two games later in the spectator-less Thursday Night Football game at MetLife Stadium against Denver.

It was an evening when Desir felt the disappointment of being beaten by Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy on a 48-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. And then got some revenge by intercepting Broncos quarterback Brett Rypien on the next defensive series.

Desir felt retribution again in the fourth quarter when he returned a 35-yard interception for a touchdown. It wasn't enough, though, as New York lost, 37-28.

"On a Thursday night, usually it's bright lights and everything. But because of the situation with COVID, we didn't have fans. So it was a weird experience," Desir said. "And being able to bounce back from a bad play that I had previously, and then being able to score to help my team try to come up with a victory, it was just a quick turn of events.

"It basically shows what it is like as a defensive back. You can have some bad plays, turn around, and then you can have some good plays. So there were a lot of emotions. It was a roller coaster game. A lot of ups and downs. I wish we could have won the game, though."

Consistently finding a free parking spot in Midtown Manhattan would have been easier than the Jets finding a win during that season. Losing their first 13 games, they finished at 2-14. And things weren't going that well off the field either.

"There were a lot of political issues going on during that time, and I appreciate how we and the organization came together to stand by the players and how we felt about what's going on with the state of the country," Desir said. "So just a togetherness as a team and as a unit (is one of my fondest memories from those days). And we got backed up by the organization. That's something that definitely will stick with me forever."

When he was released by the Jets with seven games left in the season, Desir had 47 tackles, three interceptions and eight passes defensed. And even though he was signed by Baltimore and placed on its practice squad a few weeks later, Desir was still New York's nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

"That means a lot to me because there's so many amazing players that give back to community," he said. "So to be recognized for that, it's a great feeling because you put a lot of work in to try to make sure you help the community and use your platform. And to be recognized amongst a lot of great players, it's an awesome achievement."

Playing three games with the Ravens to finish out the 2020 campaign, Desir joined Tampa Bay the following season to conclude his career. Over eight years in the NFL, he played in 85 games with 46 starts for six teams and had 10 interceptions.

"I achieved what I set out to do, and that was to play a long time and be able to achieve a contract where I could take care of my family," Desir said. "I was able to play eight years, and so just continuing to play and do what I love and be able to take care of my family, that's what I'm most proud of."

During his playing days, Desir would hold camps for kids and help train adults during the offseason. And when he left the game, he chose to return home to O'Fallon, MO, area and do that as a second career.

"I always wanted to make sure I stayed in sports. I wanted to be active," Desir said. "And once I got a little bit later in my career, I wanted to figure out what I wanted to do. I wanted to inspire kids and help them achieve their dreams. And help adults, too. Just help them all through fitness, because that helped me so much in my life."

Last year, Desir founded Hustle and Heart Sports Performance. A fitness facility in O'Fallon with state-of-the-art equipment and an indoor turf, it offers private, semi-private and group training sessions for kindergarteners to adults.

"What I enjoy most is it's what I like to do. Talk about sports. Talk about training. And probably the thing that I like the most is helping kids go to the next level, from high school to college. Just seeing them evolve and change and achieve their dreams," Desir said.

"Everything that I went through in NFL with dealing with people and circumstances that happen in the game, adversity, definitely helped me be able to handle what's going on in the business side. It's a lot less stressful in this situation."

The father of four: Keeli, Kamryn, Pierre Jr., and Kolton; what's the best thing about being Pierre Desir today?

"I'm healthy. I have a beautiful home, family, I get to do what I love. And I make my own schedule so I don't really have to answer anybody," he laughed.

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