Shaun Ellis says ‘it’s time’ for Jets to be Super
Shaun Ellis shakes his head when he thinks about all the blue
and white confetti that fell around him after last year’s AFC
He remembers the Indianapolis Colts jumping around and
celebrating the win, while he and the rest of the New York Jets
could only watch and think about what could’ve been.
”It seems like it was just yesterday,” Ellis said. ”We were
only 30 minutes away. While we were walking off the field, it was
like, ‘If we get this opportunity again, we definitely have to take
advantage of it.’
”Now we’re here again, so guys are ready.”
Ellis, 33, has been with the Jets (13-5) longer than anyone on
the team, a guy who has dreamed of getting to the Super Bowl
throughout his 11 NFL seasons. They’re one win away – again – with
only the Pittsburgh Steelers (13-4) standing in their way.
And this time, Ellis wants to see green and white confetti
falling from the sky.
”It’s been a long time for our fans and our franchise,” the
defensive end said. ”So for us to be able to get to that point –
and not just get there, but get there and win it – would be huge
Ellis has played in more playoff games than anyone in team
history, and ranks third in career sacks. But, he’s scheduled to be
a free agent after this season and doesn’t know if he’ll be back.
Ellis was told by the team in the offseason it wouldn’t grant him a
contract extension, sticking to team policy.
There were even trade rumors that floated around, and it all
ticked him off at the time, calling it a ”slap in the face.”
The Jets’ 12th overall draft pick out of Tennessee in 2000 has
outlasted three head coaches and dozens of former teammates. He
recently told The Associated Press his goals include playing 15
years in the NFL and reaching 100 sacks. Ellis insists that’s all
the furthest thing from his mind right now.
”I don’t think my future has anything to do with it,” he said.
”I just want to go out and win a ring, and this year, I want to do
it. Next year, whatever happens happens. Then, we’ll decide and
work on that part. For right now, I’m just trying to concentrate on
the season and try to get to the Super Bowl.”
After the dominant performance he had in New England last
weekend, the man his teammates and coaches call ”Big Katt”
clearly means it.
Ellis sacked Tom Brady twice early in the Jets’ 28-21 victory
and constantly disrupted things at the line of scrimmage, making
things miserable for the Patriots quarterback.
”Shaun was on fire out there,” defensive lineman Mike DeVito
said. ”I think he was still mad about the second time we played
them in the regular season. I think he still had some fire and
motivation from that. Man, he put it all together. That’s the type
of player he is.”
Ellis said he normally has pretty good games against the
Patriots, but was lousy – along with the rest of the team – in the
Jets’ 45-3 loss earlier in the season.
”It’s the playoffs and you have to win to advance, and we were
playing against the Patriots so I wanted to go and make plays,” he
said. ”That was my whole mentality. The coaches allowed me to be a
little bit more free.”
The performance surprised defensive coordinator Mike Pettine,
who said he’d be ”lying” if he said he expected it. Not that
Ellis hasn’t been a solid player throughout his career. It’s just
that this was different.
”I mean, that was a special performance,” Pettine said. ”I
just told him today: ‘Whatever you wore to bed, whatever you ate,
whatever routine you went through, whatever you drank in the locker
room before the game, just make sure you do it again.”’
Ellis often talks about the ”old times” with his teammates,
recounting big games that he played early in his career and the
opportunities that have come and gone.
”If I compared our team to a family, he would be like the older
brother,” defensive lineman Sione Pouha said. ”You know how
there’s that older brother who tells stories like, ‘I remember when
me, Mom and Dad went here, but you were too young to remember.’
Shaun will do that. He pulls things out of the archives. That’s
what gives you the appreciation for the fact that this guy, he
really deserves it and this all has a lot of meaning to him.”
This week, Ellis told some teammates the disappointing tale of
the Jets’ loss in their last playoff game in Pittsburgh, a 20-17
overtime defeat in which Doug Brien missed two potential winning
field goals in the closing minutes of regulation in 2005.
He wants a better ending this time around.
”To me, I’m taking it real personally,” Ellis said softly. ”I
want to go out there, do good and get this win for all of our
former teams that tried hard to get to this point and never reached
it. I want to finish this.”