Ever since the thought of owning a football team first crossed Harry Wismer's mind and his Titans-turned-Jets took the field in the upstart American Football League in 1960, the franchise has only drafted nine defensive backs, including Russell Carter, in the first round.
A three-time All-SWC and a consensus first-team All-American in 1983, the Jets chose the Southern Methodist University cornerback tenth overall in 1984.
"I was just happy to be drafted by anyone," Carter said. "But it was just a good feeling to go to New York at that time. I grew up in Philadelphia and been to New York before, and so it was close to home."
That year's mini-camp at Hofstra could have been close to being confused for Times Square on New Year's Eve. But being one of 15 draft picks and 60 free agents who packed the field and were there hoping to make their mark wasn't new to Carter. Having played collegiately in football-crazed Texas, it was a case of been there, done that.
"It was a lot of people, but coming from college, there was a lot of people all the time," Carter said. "So it wasn't that much different than when I was at SMU. During the summer, there was always a lot of people."
Beginning in the Week 6 game against Kansas City, the rookie notched interceptions in three consecutive games – off of the Chiefs' Bill Kinney, New England Tony Eason, and Miami's Dan Marino.
"I remember, 'Just be aggressive,' that's what Bobby Jackson used to tell me," Carter said. "Bobby Jackson, Darrol Ray, Kirk Springs. They were all very good to me and taught me a lot. 'Don't worry about mistakes. Just go for the ball if you've got a chance to get it.'"
Did he keep any or all of the balls to someday place on his mantel?
"I have my first one," said Carter, who finished the year with four interceptions. "I wish I had (kept the one I picked off of the Hall of Famer, Marino), but I didn't. I wasn't even thinking back then about the balls. But I did want my first one."
Carter's rookie season was also when he began having to deal with injuries. He was sidelined five games that year because of groin and hamstring problems. He missed eight games the next season because of back issues.
In 1986, he was out for three games, again due to groin and hamstring problems. And in the strike-shortened 1987 season, his final one with the Jets, he missed games because of a dislocated shoulder.
"I just told myself that things happen. That it wasn't really in my control. I mean, I worked hard, I worked out, it was just something that was happening to me," Carter said. "(I didn't have a 'why me?' moment). I was disappointed, but some things happen worse for people than what happened to me. And some people never have to go through it. So I just looked at it like, well, it's part of me going through it."
Following four seasons, Carter was traded to the then-Oakland Raiders for a sixth-round choice in the 1989 Draft. He had played in 40 games for the Jets, starting in 35 of them, and tallied four interceptions and four sacks.
What's one of the fondest memories from his time with the Green & White?
"I think just the camaraderie with the team," Carter said. "And when we had our playoff run (in 1986), I thought that was a good sign for us. Just being around the guys. I still have good friends to this day. Darrol Ray and Lester Lyles, Tony Paige."
And while Carter's first career was playing for the Jets, his second career is flying in them as a flight attendant since 2004 for Southwest Airlines. It's a job which offers advantages he can share with his loved ones.
"My family, we have flight benefits, so we can fly on others carriers," Carter said. "We've been to Europe and Asia and a whole lot of different places that a lot of people don't get to see."
Carter, and his wife, Sherri, make their home in the Dallas suburb of Frisco, Texas, where he's the father of four: Xxavier, Ebony, Sonni, and Ambrose.