NY Jets’ offensive guard Greg Van Roten is living the dream playing for his hometown team.
Now eight years into a rollercoaster of an NFL career, Van Roten has been given the opportunity to play for the team he grew up watching. Safe to say, he’s living the dream.
From an undrafted free agent to the CFL to earning a starting role on his hometown team, Van Roten’s football journey has been filled with ups and downs. But it’s hard to imagine a more perfect scenario for him than the one he is currently in.
ESPN’s Rich Cimini recently caught up with Van Roten and the journeyman offensive lineman had some surreal words to say about what it means to play for the Jets.
“It’s like a dream come true. To get to come to the Jets, walk around the hallways and see the posters of all the guys I watched has been just so incredible so far. Putting on the jersey, it’s weird to see myself in a Jets uniform.”
Van Roten was born in Rockville Center and attended Chaminade High School in Mineola, just a short drive away from the Jets’ old training facility at Hofstra.
While the 30-year-old may be living out his dreams as a starter in the NFL for his favorite team, it wasn’t always smooth sailing.
Van Roten graduated from Penn after earning multiple All-Conference selections in college, but he wasn’t exactly a high-profile draft prospect.
Nonetheless, he managed to make the Green Bay Packers’ roster out of training camp after going undrafted and he played in seven games during his rookie season.
He’d stick around in Green Bay for another season appearing in just three games in 2013 before being released in February of the following year. And after a brief offseason stint in Seattle failed to lead to anything, Van Roten took his talents to the Canadian Football League.
Normally, that would be it for his NFL career. Very few players have managed to go from the NFL to the CFL and back to the NFL — especially after they were unceremoniously dumped from the league in the first place.
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NY Jets’ offensive guard Greg Van Roten’s NFL hopes appeared to be over.
But Van Roten’s NFL journey was only getting started.
After two years spent with the Toronto Argonauts, Van Roten signed on with the Jacksonville Jaguars in February of 2017 but was released just a few months later. However, the door was opened for an NFL return.
The well-traveled offensive lineman would be signed in late-July by the Carolina Panthers facing an extremely uphill battle to make the final roster with a little over a month before the start of the season.
But despite the deck being stacked against him in every possible way, Van Roten made the final 53-man roster and appeared in 10 games with the Panthers in 2017 — the first NFL games he had played in four years.
All of a sudden, Van Roten was thrust into a starting role in 2018 following the departure of All-Pro left guard Andrew Norwell. And from there, he wouldn’t look back.
Van Roten started all 16 games at left guard in 2018 and re-assumed that role the following season before a dislocated toe cut his season short.
The Jets offered Van Roten a three-year, $10.5 million contract this past offseason and while the money wasn’t exceptional, it was likely an easy decision for the New York native.
From an NFL afterthought to a CFL standout to finally a starting role on his hometown team, Greg Van Roten is the definition of a late-bloomer.
But as Van Roten lives out his dreams, I’m sure he’ll tell you that it’s better to bloom late than to never blossom at all.