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That time Jets' Lorenzo Mauldin shook Muhammad Ali's hand: 'There was a tingle'

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Lorenzo Mauldin shook Muhammad Ali's hand once. And he'll never forget it.

"There was a tingle," Mauldin said Wednesday. "I felt a little shake in my system."

Mauldin, a second-year linebacker for the New York Jets, said Ali "popped up so many times" at University of Louisville football games during Mauldin's time there. Louisville, after all, is Ali's hometown. Louisville is where Ali's memorial services will take place Friday.

"He has so much respect from the city of Louisville and the world in general," Mauldin said. "You've got Michael Jackson and Prince, and you've got Muhammad Ali on that level -- celebrities and an athlete who pretty much set the world on fire with his love and compassion."

Coach Todd Bowles, 52, grew up in a different time and a different place than his young linebacker. Bowles was raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey, during the turbulent 1960s and 1970s. He never met Ali, but he was touched by the man's courage and conviction.

"What he stood for, what he stood up for, what he believed in, what he went through to help most Americans get to where they are today is unbelievable," Bowles said. "You can't put into words what he did. I mean, he did what a lot of people thought they wanted to do, or a lot of people thought about doing. He just did it naturally.

"And at a time where everybody's praising him now, you know they wanted to crucify him back them. But he stood up and he stood his ground, and that paved the way for a lot of people in sports and in life, especially me."

Bowles doesn't often get wrapped up emotionally in a subject when speaking publicly -- he's a man of few words -- but this was an exception.

"For a guy to stand up, and stand up for what he believed in ... and [be] willing to go to jail and do all those things, and at the pinnacle of where he was in sports, and to step down like that ... it's very rare," Bowles said of Ali's refusal to be drafted into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.

"He did it. Jim Brown walked away from the game. There were a lot of guys back then that you looked up to as men, as opposed to sports figures, because of what they did, walking away from the game as opposed to what they did in the ring. So, as a young man growing up, that taught me a lot as far as respecting myself and understanding what I need to do growing up as a man."