Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer 14d

Austin Seferian-Jenkins says Bucs were 'wrong' for giving up on him

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Austin Seferian-Jenkins won't walk into Raymond James Stadium on Sunday seeking redemption against the team that fired him a year ago. In his mind, he already has it.

The big tight end is having a career year with the New York Jets, who pulled him off the scrap heap in September 2016 after he was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following a DUI arrest.

On Wednesday, Seferian-Jenkins expressed mixed feelings toward the Bucs. He acknowledged he "didn't hold up my end of the bargain" by getting arrested, but he also said the Bucs were "wrong" for releasing him. He believes he has proven that.

"Being here, standing where I am, playing at the level I'm playing at -- and still getting better -- that, in itself, is a win [over] someone that gave up on you," he said. "When someone gives up on you, they believe you won't get better and you can't pull yourself out of what you're going through or whatever hole you're in.

"To be standing here, competing at the level I am, playing on such a great team, that, in itself, is a win," Seferian-Jenkins continued. "That, in itself, says [the Bucs] were wrong. That, in itself, speaks volumes to my character. It speaks volumes about this organization, how they can bring in a guy like myself and help mold me into what I am today."

In May, Seferian-Jenkins went public with his drinking problem. He went to rehab in the offseason and dropped 30-plus pounds, showing the Jets he was serious about getting his life turned around. Despite a two-game suspension at the start of the season, stemming from his arrest, he leads the Jets with 33 receptions.

In three seasons with the Bucs, who drafted him in the second round in 2014, Seferian-Jenkins had only 45 catches. There were rumors about a bad attitude, and the team finally ran out of patience after the arrest, which included an embarrassing dash-cam video that showed him making crude comments in the police car.

"I had off-the-field issues and I understand I didn't hold up my end of the bargain, but at the end of the day, I'm a Jet and that's the best thing that ever happened to me," he said. "It's the best thing that ever happened in my life. What's in the past is in the past.

"I wish things went differently, but deep down ... no, I don't. I'm happy I'm here. I'm happy with the way everything worked out. Unfortunately, I had to go down some pretty crappy roads and I had to go through some unfortunate things -- all by my choice. But all the bridges I burned brought me here to be a New York Jet, best city in the world, best organization in the league."

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