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After painful loss, Jacobs experiences birth of renewed hopes

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Star-Ledger Staff


When Brandon Jacobs heard about the football reunion they were planning around the spring game at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, he figured it would be a great chance to catch up with his former teammates.


So the Giants' running back began looking up a few phone numbers, including his former competition in the Coffeyville backfield for one season -- Broncos running back Damien Nash.


"I hadn't talked to him in a while, so I wanted to call him," Jacobs said Monday. "Instead, I got a call that said he passed."


Nash, 24, died on Saturday after collapsing in his home in front of his wife and seven-month-old daughter. A few hours earlier, he had played in a charity basketball game he had organized in honor of his brother, Darris, who had a heart transplant last year.


Jacobs was stunned by the news. He said the other night he sat at his computer Googling Nash's name to find images of him. He said he just sat there in silence, looking at the player who took away a few of his carries in 2002.


"We were going against each other and that caused a little bad blood between us because we were so competitive," Jacobs said. "But I loved him like a brother. He was there for me whenever I needed him."


For Jacobs, it was the end of one life a few days before another was scheduled to begin. His wife Kimberly was almost nine months pregnant and scheduled to undergo induced labor earlier this week.


Sadness. Excitement. Anxiety. And the stress of hearing and reading the rumors of the Giants' plans to bring in another running back to complement -- in other words, compete with -- Jacobs in the backfield.


Needless to say, Jacobs was feeling a range of conflicting emotions earlier this week.


"It's tough," he said of Nash's death. "Some people might say I'm not showing I'm hurt, but I have too much stuff going on.


"I have to be strong for my wife because she's getting ready to go through some unbelievable stuff."


Yesterday, Jacobs and his wife got to feel some relief for a change. Brayden Kenneth Jacobs was born at 6:27 a.m. -- three weeks earlier than the scheduled due date. Like his 6-4, 260-pound father, Brayden is big: Nine pounds, four ounces heavy and 22 1/4 inches long with 3 1/4-inch feet seemingly big enough to fit into some baby football cleats.


"Brandon, Kim and Brayden are doing great and everyone is happy and healthy," Jacobs' agent, Justin Schulman, said in an e-mail. "They have already been preparing themselves for some sleepless nights."


As for the professional side of his life, Jacobs is the likely replacement for the retired Tiki Barber as the Giants' feature back. But there have been rumblings the team is looking for another veteran to share the load with the two-year veteran.


On Saturday, general manager Jerry Reese said the Giants have spoken to the Bills about possibly trading for Willis McGahee. Reese said there are other trade options and the team would "leave no stone unturned."


But Reese said his ideal scenario would be two running backs getting 20 and 15 carries apiece per game. Jacobs would be his 20-carry back (i.e. the No. 1 guy).


"That makes me feel good -- along with my confidence in myself -- knowing Jerry is on my side," Jacobs said. "But like I've said, I don't give a damn who they bring in here.


"I really don't care. I'll get along with him and I hope he's a great guy, but that's 2-7's job."


And Jacobs believes he got the early jump on it.


"Ain't no way in hell, after putting in so much time to learn this offense and be effective at it, am I'm going to let somebody come in here and take my job," he said.


Note: The Giants re-signed long snapper Ryan Kuehl yesterday. Terms were not available for the 35-year-old Kuehl, who would have been a free agent come Friday after completing his 12th NFL season.


"That's about 12 more than I thought I'd play," he said in the team's press release.

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"Ain't no way in hell, after putting in so much time to learn this offense and be effective at it, am I'm going to let somebody come in here and take my job," he said.

I believe him.

"I really don't care. I'll get along with him and I hope he's a great guy, but that's 2-7's job."



Great quote # 2-7.

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While i never saw him play in college, I read about him many times since i worked in Chicago and got the Chicago Tribune. As a college player he averaged 6.7 yards per carry for his entire college career - he is flat out fast and once he learns to lower his body he will be like a flipping torpedo coming at you. I was more excited about this kid than I was with Eli originally. Hopefully this coming year they will both make me proud.

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