FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Buster Skrine can't help but make people take notice.
His feisty spirit, coupled with his ever-changing hairdos (at the moment, short dreadlocks dyed a blondish hue), make him an unmistakable figure on the practice field.
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"It's been like that my whole life," the Jets cornerback said, shaking his head, during a recent one-on-one interview after practice. "People are always like, 'Skrine! Skrine! Skrine!' But it's 'Screen' -- like 'screen pass.' "
The Jets' coaching staff and his new teammates are the latest on a long list of individuals who have fallen into the trap of phonetically pronouncing Skrine's last name. But rather than correct them, the shifty slot corner chooses to ignore it.
"I just let it ride. I know what they're talking about. I just go about my day," he said, smiling.
After 26 years, Skrine said he's gotten used to it. And besides, most people call him by the nickname his grandmother gave him: Buster.
"It's just one of those Southern things," he said. "You just get a nickname out of nowhere."
Skrine's real name is Darryl. Just like his father. But the Decatur, Georgia, native has been known as "Buster" since he was an infant.
"My dad's name is Butch. Mine is Buster. And it has nothing to do with nothing," Skrine said, laughing.
In March, Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan signed the former Brown to a four-year, $25-million deal that includes $13 million guaranteed. But Skrine's arrival in the Big Apple was quickly overshadowed by the homecoming of shutdown cornerback Darrelle Revis, who on the same day, signed a five-year, $70-million deal that includes $39 million guaranteed.
"In Cleveland, they had started getting it right. Everybody called me 'Screen.' But that took about three years," said Skrine, the Browns' fifth-round pick in 2011. "So hopefully, I can make an impact this year and everybody will get it right by the end of this year."
With a revamped secondary and big-name talent on both sides of the ball, the 5-9, 185-pound Skrine doesn't garner much of the media attention. But though people at 1 Jets Drive often mispronounce his last name, they've taken notice of his relentless work ethic and his competitive drive.
"The biggest thing about Buster is that he comes out to work every day," coach Todd Bowles said. "He grinds and he tries to be perfect every day. He plays hard. He's one of the hardest-working guys out there. You don't know that about a guy coming in. You know how he plays, but practice habits tell you a lot about him. He's humble, he's hungry, he can play inside and outside. So far, he has been a delight."
What Skrine lacks in height, he makes up for in tenacity. He's aggressive, he's hungry, and he competes on every play. And that's what the Jets like most of all.
Said Bowles: "Buster's been as good as advertised so far. "