<
>

Why Kelvin Beachum wants to be a 'Brick' in the Jets' wall

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Kelvin Beachum has a bachelor's degree in economics and a masters in organizational dynamics. He also has a keen appreciation for history.

Football history.

After signing with the New York Jets in March, Beachum reached out to former left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, who held down the position from 2006 to '15. Beachum, stepping into that job, arranged a get-acquainted dinner with Ferguson. They met at a New Jersey restaurant and talked shop.

Beachum did the same thing when he joined the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2012. He met with former tackles Marvel Smith, Tunch Ilkin and Kendall Simmons.

When he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016, he huddled with Tony Boselli, one of the best left tackles of his generation.

Many players in the transient world of the NFL go from team to team, oblivious to tradition and the men who came before them. Beachum is different that way. For someone who makes his living on the blind side, he sees everything.

"I want to understand the lineage of what goes along with playing left tackle, what people did before me," he said. "You stand on the shoulders of those historians and those greats.

"[Ferguson] is on this wall here," Beachum added, referring to a renovated wall in the facility that includes pictures of former Jets greats. "He's on the wall for a reason, so why wouldn't I want to talk to him and learn from him and see what he has to offer? He can help me come into this situation and perform at a high level."

The Jets have a star-crossed history when it comes to team success, but they've had some strong positions -- and offensive tackle is one of them. The most decorated tackle in team history is the late Winston Hill, who made eight Pro Bowls from 1964 to 1976. Marvin Powell came along in 1977, making All-Pro three times in nine years.

"I've heard about Marvin Powell," Beachum said. "Someone told me he showed up every day with a briefcase. He was a true man's professional."

He'd like to hook up with Powell, who lives in Florida, but that might be tough. For reasons unknown, Powell is disconnected from the team. He doesn't show up for alumni events, and that's too bad because he's worthy of Ring of Honor consideration.

Ferguson will be in the Ring someday. He was an absolute rock from 2006-15, never missing a game or practice. It's hard to replace a guy like that. The Jets traded for fading star Ryan Clady, who got hurt and missed half the season. The next man up is Beachum, 28, who signed a three-year, $24 million contract after his option wasn't exercised by the Jaguars.

Beachum embraces the challenge.

"I love playing left tackle," he said. "I love the pressure that is part of left tackle. I love the responsibility and the obligation that comes along with it. I relish it."

Beachum was an ascending player for the Steelers in 2015, but he wrecked a knee and wasn't the same in Jacksonville. The Jets, who limited his reps in the spring, are keeping their fingers crossed. Beachum doesn't lack confidence.

"I know what I'm capable of," he said. "I know what I've done before. I have an opportunity with the Jets for the next three years. If I perform, I might be here a little longer."