It was not too long ago, in 2002, that the Jets selected DE Bryan Thomas with their first-round pick…
An Interview With John Abraham
What It Is Like Playing In The Big Apple
"It's Great. It took me a little while to get adjusted at first. I'm not going to say I was scared but ... coming from South Carolina, you know, you hear so many bad things about the big city but it's really not so bad. Actually I do not live in the heart of the city - I live out on Long Island ... it's nice. I like it a lot really ... and the fans are great fans. It's a different kind of fan than the South Carolina fan ... but they are still great fans. It's a different culture you know so it took some adjusting to but I like it just fine."
On The Biggest Adjustment Made From College To Pro
"This is my fifth year coming up ... I guess the biggest transition for me was getting used to having so much spare time on my hands. I know a lot of people talk about how fast the game is and all that, but for me it was all the spare time. I mean in college you are always so busy and have so many things to do. But once you get in the pros you have practice and a few appearances but your days are not so packed with places you have to be ... in the NFL you kind of have to find stuff to do on most days after practice and during the off-season."
What About Physically In The NFL
"Yeah, there are a lot more demands on the body. I know for me I never got injured as much in college as I have when I got in the NFL. You have to get used to that, and you also have to learn how to practice in the NFL ... it's not like in college. In college you need to go all out on every play. But in the NFL you have to pace yourself and play smart if you want to keep your job. You have to play wisely ... you're always just one injury away from not playing again. I don't mean to not go all out on every play. What I am saying is that you have to know more about what you are doing out there in the NFL and approach it more like a technician rather than just going at it without care like you can in college."
About some of the other South Carolina state high school products on the Jets - fellow teammates.
"Well, Shaun Ellis and I came in together. He was the 12th pick and I was the 13th pick so he and I have sort of developed an ongoing friendship ... he's like a brother to me, he's like family. And we've got a couple other South Carolinians on the team like Donny Abraham ... Jonathan Goodwin ... and some others. Yeah it's great to have people from South Carolina on the team because it always gives all of us something to talk about. We have that in common as a basis for friendship and that makes things a lot easier when you are a long ways from home. We can say something to each other and we will know exactly what each other is talking about."
Did he retain his speed through the recent injuries.
"For the most part, yeah I think so. Sure, with age you're going to lose a little bit of speed but I have managed to retain most of my speed and still be a good pass rusher ... and also as a cover guy. I mean you may not know this but I am being moved to linebacker this year so my speed is going to be important to me this year - we're going to see how I do there ... honestly I feel good, I still feel the same even after the injuries."
Which linebacker spot for the Jets.
"I'll be playing Will linebacker ... kind of in the 4-3 type defense, but I'll also work at defensive end some too."
On his trip back to South Carolina.
"It always brings back good memories when I visit South Carolina. I mean I love the place. Every time I am at the stadium I see something that brings back memories .... but what always impresses me is the number of improvements they are making there. Every time I come back there is something new. A new weight room here or a new room there. It really says a lot about what they are doing there ... everything is coming together. As long as they keep doing things like that our program is going to continue to grow down there and eventually it will all come together."
"I know a lot of people think that the last couple of years we were down a little bit ... but I don't see it that way. We have the coaching staff and the players. The program has come a long ways. Sometimes there are bumps in the road and you have to get over those. You can really see all the good things happening because of those bumps but if you look at it from the outside looking in you can see the program is very close to hitting on all cylinders. Hopefully this year it will show more ... they'll step it up and it will show I think."
"You know ... I keep up with them. I really wouldn't have a choice but I do ... and I do keep up with them. Other people from teams that you played in college - I mean let's say we play LSU and there are other people on my NFL team that are from LSU - they're gonna tell me, you know, the first thing they are going to do that week is come up to me and dare me, you know, challenge me, like how much you want on the game (between LSU and South Carolina)? I mean you have to keep up with your alma mater. It's all in good fun and all that but we are competitive so someone is always in your face challenging you about your alma mater if your school is playing their school that week. And I'll tell you something else ... if your school loses that Saturday you are going to hear about it on Sunday. I mean especially on my team because on the Jets there are so many people on the team that played in the South and particularly in the SEC - I mean Shaun went to Tennessee - Kevin went to LSU ... I mean those guys are going to let me know how South Carolina did automatically when I walk into the clubhouse Sunday morning you know what I mean? So yeah, I follow the Gamecocks closely. I am proud of my alma mater."
"I think we are poised to do it this coming season. We have the players at USC now. I mean not just a few, we've got them all over the team. We have the coaching. And this is one thing I know ... we've always had the fans. It's time to really give the fans something special in Columbia. We've had our ups and downs ... but the fans have always remained constant for us. So it is time to do something special for the fans and I think this team this year might just be poised to get it done."
Final words to the fans.
"South Carolina has the best fans in the world. I always remember them. People everywhere know about them, like even players from other teams have said how good our fans are when they come here to play. What I would like to see is more of them saying, like, 'man, you do not want to go to South Carolina to play. When you go there you might as well chalk it up as a loss.' I'd like to see it that way in Columbia one day, where other teams are afraid to come to Columbia rather than them looking forward to coming to Columbia because our fans turn out and are nice to them. I mean I guess what I am saying is, you can still be nice to them, but do it in a way where it helps them to lose, you know what I mean? If you combine our fans with a good team like I think we are going to have this year, then other teams should not look forward to going to Columbia. We have the best fans anywhere. It's time we give them something special this season."
"I'm here for the long haul for South Carolina. This is my home and I will do whatever they need me to do to help. All they have to do is say the word and I am here for them. All they have to do is say the word. Let's all work together and take this to the next level. Let's all work together and turn this into something special, something we know it can be. If we all pull together then no one can stop us."
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