The more you can do.
Those five words aptly describe how Roger Duffy was able to play eight seasons for the Jets and 12 years in the league. Chosen in the eighth round of the 1990 NFL Draft out of Penn State, he enhanced his worth by widening his workload.
“I was primarily a center, but I had to learn how to do it all. Both guards, special teams, I was on the kickoff wedge, and I was learning the long-snapping,” Duffy said. “So, the more you can do-type attitude. Make it harder for them to, if it came down to you and another guy, if he could only play one position and you were more versatile, obviously you’re not as expendable as the other guy.
“When I played, you always had a backup lineman or linebacker do the long snapping. You didn’t have a roster spot like they do today. So that was an opportunity that I kept working on, and it paid off for me. I think that kept my value up even though I wasn’t a starter then.”
Duffy became a full-time starter at left guard in 1994, his fifth season with the Jets. Two years later, he became their starting center.
“I think it was just the need,” Duffy said. “Going back and forth, whoever was banged up coming into the game week, you would have to learn each of the positions. I was drafted to be a center, but I think just the way things played out with injuries and who was available that week kind of dictated on what position I would focus on for that particular game week.”
Even though Duffy played for four head coaches – Bruce Coslet, Pete Carroll, Richie Kotite and Bill Parcells – and only experienced the playoffs once, he appreciates his time with the Jets.
“The owner, Mr. (Leon) Hess and from the top down, they always had a Christmas party for the families, the facilities were real nice and everything,” Duffy said. “You kind of took that for granted because I know some guys who went from there to other organizations where they said it wasn’t that way. It’s a first-class organization and they took care of the players as well as their families.”
And what makes Duffy most proud of his career?
“Well, it lasting 12 years (eight with the Jets and four with the Pittsburgh Steelers), that’s always special,” he said. “Being very blessed health-wise, not having a 300-pounder falling on your knee the wrong way or something. I was very lucky that way. Just doing something I loved, playing the game of football, I felt very fortunate to do that.”
While Duffy was playing the game, he was also thinking about when he wouldn’t be able to take the field, and began planning for his post-football days.
“The (NFL) Players Association had this internship program and a lot of companies across the country participated for guys to start thinking about life after football,” Duffy said. “(Ameriprise Financial Services) was American Express back then, and since I was investing my money, I kind of wanted to learn a little more about that.
“There was an office in my hometown, Canton, (Ohio). So I did an internship there and remained in contact. And then when I retired (following the 2001 season), I reached out to the branch manager, who’s my partner now as far as the practice, and got my Series 7 (license to sell a broad range of securities) in 2003, and have been up and running since then.”
Now in his 15th year as an Ameriprise financial advisor, Duffy and his wife, Cathy, make their home in Canton, and have three adult children; Mack, Jaclyn and Abby.
“I like working with people, putting together strategies to help reach their financial goals. Helping them achieve, whether it’s a college education, retirement or those types of things,” Duffy said. “We’re a little different structure. We’re kind of independent, meaning we can run our practice as we want to, a little more flexibility than if you’re in an employee-type deal.
“I’ve been very fortunate. I had a great family who brought me up, gave me good morals and ethics, and I think just applying those to my every day as far as interacting with my clients. They know that I’m a trustworthy guy. It doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes, but I do have the trustworthiness.”