New York Jets: Nathan Shepherd story brings back Damon Harrison memories

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 03: Damon Harrison (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 03: Damon Harrison (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images) /

The Nathan  Shepherd story will remind New York Jets fans a bit of Damon      Harrison.

The underdog is always someone to root for and we don’t hear enough about them. When looking at the draft for the New York Jets, the guy we hear about most is Sam Darnold for obvious reasons. When a team drafts whom they hope will be the franchise quarterback, his is the name that will be on everyone’s lips. But he is not the only one that was drafted by Mike Maccagnan.

Nathan Shepherd was one of those picks, selected in the third round of the draft. The Jets didn’t have a second round pick so this was the first pick made of day two. When we heard the name and the college Fort Hays St., most if not all of us were scrambling to figure out who this player was. What we learned is that he had a very compelling, yet also very familiar story.

Many of you probably already know that Shepherd is from Canada. That was discussed a bit during the draft telecast. But it was not a traditional road to the NFL for Shepherd. He ended up out of football for a while. His college career began at Simon Fraser University up in Canada, but he had to leave after two seasons. He was a walk-on and became unable to afford the tuition. Those of us out there with college loans can certainly relate.

So he took on odd jobs, anything from working at a plant nursery to moving boxes for a print factory. However, one job led him to a chance encounter with a former NFL player turned studio host that changed his path for the better.

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The scene was Pierre’s Champagne Lounge where Shepherd spent free time working at as a bouncer. On the night in question, he was actually working as a security guard for Nate Burleson and his friends. On this night, Burleson would help his bodyguard transform his life.

Every single one of us have had bouts of self doubt. We try to get where we want to be in life, face obstacles and feel they are too much. Often we withdraw from something we are passionate about to do something else and pass the time.

It is not just athletes. Maybe you didn’t get the promotion you were hoping for. You could be having a tough time getting into your field of passion. Anyone of us could be feeling these types of feelings.

This is what Nathan Shepherd was going through on this night when he was working with Nate Burleson. Burleson had some knowledge about Shepherd’s history but not all of his troubles. He just knew his guy was down in the dumps. This is what he said to the young man:

"“You’re gonna play in the NFL one day,” Burleson told Shepherd, according to Yahoo Sports’ Terez Paylor. “You seem like a great guy. Go for it. Don’t stop. The game always finds those that love it and love will find somebody that’s passionate about them.”"

Shepherd took that to heart and changed the narrative of his life. We know the rest by now. He went and enrolled at Fort Hays St. After excelling there his stock rose until ultimately he was drafted by the Jets in round three. We will see how things go when camp opens but it’s hard not to root for a guy like this.

First off, Jets fans will recognize this as the type of story they have seen before. There is a defensive tackle that worked the night shift at Walmart. Eventually he ended up at a small school. He ended up with the Jets, though not drafted, and turned himself into a star. Fans know and love this guy. Does Damon Harrison ring a bell? He was the same type of guy. He was an underdog that went under the radar but made every other team live to regret that.

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Now will Shepherd become the star that Snacks is? Obviously we don’t know that yet, but it’s hard to count an underdog out. Underdogs always feel they have something to prove. We can all relate. When anyone says we can’t do something, don’t you want to prove them wrong? For players like Shepherd, the world has said they can’t do it. Coming from a small school, he will be in Florham Park ready to show the world he deserved the draft pick.

It worked for Damon Harrison. If it has even close to the same effect on Shepard, Jets fans will be thrilled with this pick.