Skip Lane, a standout quarterback at Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut, and the son of its legendary coach Paul Lane, clearly had football in his blood. And as a Jets fan, it was tinted Green & White.
Converted to defensive back and kick returner while at Ole Miss, Lane may not have been chosen in the NFL Draft, but that didn't mean his playing days were over.
"I had a banged-up college career, I was always hurt and always out of position," Lane said. "But it's all about speed when you're a free agent, and on my pro day I ran (the 40-yard dash in) 4.45 (seconds). Just like they'll bring big guys in, they'll bring in guys that can run. There aren't a lot of 4.7 guys playing secondary in the NFL."
The first step in professional football for the 4.45 guy who played in the secondary was north of the border in the Canadian Football League.
"I went to Calgary. And I was in the USFL with the Memphis Showboats, you know, just trying to get a break," Lane said. "All non-high draft picks are just trying to get a break. You need to be at the right place at the right time."
Hoping "to be at the right place at the right time," Lane went to training camp with the Jets in 1984 and made an impression on head coach Joe Walton.
"He mentioned a couple of times to the team that 'we need more guys like this around here.' Just because he liked the toughness I played with. But it's tough when they don't really have room for you. It becomes a political thing. I mean, everybody there can play," Lane said.
"They had seven or eight defensive backs from the year before, and now you've got to go in there and basically take one of their jobs. And if they gave half of them a lot of money through the draft, chances are they're not going anywhere unless they're really terrible. Which is unlikely.
"And so you're really not playing against the other guys, you're playing against the money and the opportunity. So somebody needs to get hurt, you need to have some breaks, you need to get the quarterback to throw the ball to you, you need to make some great tackles. It's almost impossible to go as a free agent and make an NFL roster just because the odds are so stacked against you. You're playing against the money and the front office basically as a free agent. Which is very tough. It's tough odds."
Leveling the odds until the final cut, Lane was released just before the season-opener at Indianapolis. But after 10 games, he received a call from the Jets about rejoining the team.
"There's nothing like it," Lane said. "It's like you won the lottery. It's a childhood dream. You think you lost it, and then it comes back. I mean, it really tugs at your heart in good ways and bad ways."
Lane may not have been with the Jets when they traveled to Indianapolis for Week 1, but his childhood dream became reality in Week 11 when he put on jersey No. 37 and took the field at Giants Stadium when New York hosted the Colts.
"Just to walk out that tunnel, it's surreal," Lane said. "You look around and, wow, you really don't believe that you're here. And then when you're running down on the opening kickoff, it's one of the cooler experiences anybody could possibly have."
With the Jets for three games, Lane's time with New York wasn't as long as he would have liked, but he was able to play for the team he sat in Shea Stadium and cheered for as a kid. What's among the fondest memories from his time as a Jet?
"Just the guys I'm still in touch with, Rocky Klever and Bobby Jackson and Joe Klecko," Lane said. "It's a camaraderie that you can't experience anywhere else. It's a bonding that's like nothing else. I still have dreams of those days. It's just a really macho, fun place to be."
Lane had the opportunity to suit up again in 1987 when the NFL players went on strike after two games and teams searched for replacements.
"The Jets called first. I said, 'No, I can't do that. Too many friends.' And, you know, Klecko had already stuck my head in the toilet once, and I said, 'No, this time he'll drown me,'" Lane laughed. "He and I had a very contentious relationship. It was a love-hate relationship because I was a wiseass. And I forgot who were playing, but I walked by him with a helmet pump and said, 'You want a couple blasts in those lips of yours?' And everybody in the locker room laughed.
"And then right before kickoff, I'm in full uniform standing at the urinal and he and (Mark) Gastineau come up behind me and snatch me off my feet like a little toy doll and stuff me right in the toilet. The stall came off the screws. They let me go and I fell behind the toilet and hurt my back. I never messed with him again."
An hour after Lane turned down the Jets, Washington called.
"I said, 'I don't know anybody that played for the Redskins. I'm not going to care if I hurt anybody's feelings,'" Lane said. "I was in the commercial real estate business, and so I literally left work and got on the shuttle and flew to D.C. I didn't think we'd play a game."
But Lane and the others played three games, and Washington won them all. After the 24-day strike ended and the replacement players were replaced, the Redskins went on to win Super Bowl XXII. And in June 2018, he and Washington's other replacement players were presented with Super Bowl rings.
Since before his time with the Redskins, Lane has been in commercial real estate and is a Director in Cushman & Wakefield's leasing services group.
"I sell office space, office buildings, retail buildings. Lease them, sell them, kind of all the above. We do it internationally, but I'm focused in Fairfield County, Connecticut," Lane said.
"I like the freedom and that every deal is different. Every client is different. It's a very kind of unique business. You work with different teams in the office and then you're always changing different projects. One call, you're working on a retail building, and the next call, you're working on an office building. I just kind of enjoy the diversity of it."
Lane and his longtime girlfriend, Kim Rizza, live in Westport, where he is involved in local football programs.