It’s been a long time coming for Shaun Ellis.
The 12-year veteran is finally playing in his first Super Bowl, as a member of the New England Patriots after 11 seasons with the New York Jets.
The 34-year-old Ellis was the longest-tenured defensive lineman in Jets history, but left the Jets after he felt he was low-balled with a contract offer and the Jets went younger replacing him.
It was a deal that worked out for both sides. The Jets got increased production from Ellis’s old spot from rookie Muhammad Wilkerson, and Ellis finally got to the promised land, something he was unable to do in New York.
Ellis is one of five former New York Jets who is playing in the Super Bowl this weekend, an ironic twist of fate for a guy who admitted he bled green for over a decade.
Safety James Ihedigbo is also in his first year in New England after the Jets let him walk this past offseason. The two of them joined Danny Woodhead, who was cut by the Jets in 2010 & ended up in Foxboro as well.
None of them have made particularly large contributions to the Patriots this season, although Ihedigbo has been pressed into emergency service in New England’s smoke-and-mirrors secondary.
But the three of them now stand 60 minutes away from the ultimate prize, the Lombardi Trophy. The same trophy that Jets coach Rex Ryan vows to bring to the Green and White some day.
The New York Giants are looking to send the Patriots home disappointed for the second time in five years, having famously ended their perfect 18-0 season four years ago in Super Bowl XLII.
Right tackle Kareem McKenzie, who hasn’t been all that good but is the best they’ve got, will look to get his second ring. He played for the Jets from 2001-2004 and has played for the Giants since 2005.
The final ex-Jet playing on Sunday is Giants punter Steve Weatherford. He punted for the Jets in each of their deep playoff runs in 2009 and 2010, but the Jets deemed him expendable and here he is.
No matter the outcome of Sunday’s game, at least two former Jets will be getting outfitted for a ring when it’s all said and done. Good for them. That is the ultimately goal.
The Jets aim to get some rings of their own, but a long arduous offseason stands in their way first. I have no doubt the Jets will come back strong in 2012. They certainly have enough things to motivate them, that’s for sure.