Jets' Lansanah tackling 1st NFL chance since 2009

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 16, 2013 at 10:26 am •  Published: August 16, 2013
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CORTLAND, N.Y. (AP) — Danny Lansanah was counseling troubled teens when a text message buzzed on his phone.

Then came a few more, and a couple of calls. Lansanah's agent was desperately trying to get in touch with his client last December.

"He was blowing my phone up, but I was at work," the New York Jets linebacker recalled with a laugh after a recent training camp practice. "After like the fifth or sixth call, I'm like, 'Man, it's probably something important.'"

Ed Wasielewski tried reaching him through Twitter and Facebook, too, before Lansanah finally stepped away from his job at Alternative Rehabilitation Communities in Harrisburg, Pa., and called him back. The news stunned Lansanah: The Jets had seen him play in a United Football League game a few months earlier and wanted to bring him in for a tryout.

Two weeks later, the 27-year-old Lansanah signed with the Jets and was back in the NFL for the first time since the 2009 season.

"It was a good moment because all Danny was trying to get was one more opportunity," Wasielewski said. "That's why he was playing in the UFL and keeping himself in great shape and working hard. That's what the Jets have given him. He took nothing for granted. This is his dream."

Lansanah has had a solid training camp this summer, and New York's preseason game Saturday night against Jacksonville will give him another chance to make the 53-man roster as a backup.

"I remember sitting in the hotel after they signed me, just staring at the wall and I was like, 'Man, I need to make the best of this opportunity because it's a second chance,'" Lansanah said. "A lot of people in this profession don't get second chances, especially coming from where I came from."

Lansanah is used to beating the odds. He grew up on the rough-and-tumble streets of Harrisburg, where he found a safe haven in sports, starring in basketball and football at Harrisburg High School. He parlayed his success into a scholarship and a standout football career at the University of Connecticut, but went undrafted in 2008.

Lansanah signed with Green Bay as a free agent and spent that year with the Packers, first as a member of the practice squad before playing in five games and making the only two tackles — so far — of his NFL career. He was cut after training camp the next year, but hooked up with the practice squads of Miami and later Detroit. But by 2010, Lansanah was out of the NFL and uncertain if he'd ever be back.

"My whole life, I've always been an underdog," Lansanah said. "I've always had to push through an obstacle to get to where I wanted to go, but once I got to Green Bay, I think I got kind of complacent, being a young guy seeing those kinds of checks at that age and not working as hard.

"After that last cut, though, I was thinking about life without football."

Lansanah, who has a sociology degree from UConn, decided to work at A.R.C., an agency that helps kids from the ages of 14-19 who have drug and alcohol issues, anger management problems or troubles with the law. He is involved with counseling and acting as a mentor to boys who lacked role models.