Odd couple off field, D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Willie Colon work together on it
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Willie Colon whips his head back, letting his shoulder-length dreadlocks fly. He is controlled chaos. A devilish grin wearing a scraggly beard.
And he's everything D'Brickashaw Ferguson is not.
The clean-cut Ferguson is measured. Often bland. And he's the ultimate over-thinker.
But together, they form one hilarious union.
"They're like an old married couple," right tackle Austin Howard said. "It's the funniest thing, cause Brick does Brick, and Willie doesn't like the way Brick does Brick."
Just a few locker stalls separate Colon and Ferguson, a pair of New York natives with Long Island ties who are worlds apart in their demeanor, upbringing and outlook on life.
Their vantage points on the field are as divergent as their backgrounds. But the Jets' success lies in how well the two can help protect rookie quarterback Geno Smith.
Drafted together in 2006, both Colon (a Bronx-born Hofstra product) and Ferguson (the pride of Freeport) have earned millions during their eight-year careers. But for all their similarities and shared experiences, right guard Colon and left tackle Ferguson spend most of their time inside the meeting room, and outside of the facility, squabbling over their inherent differences.
Colon, 30, is fiery and always at full speed. Ferguson, 29, is deliberately slow with an even keel. Colon is a free spirit, a frenetic wild child whose favorite sport seems to be getting under Ferguson's skin. And he always wins.
"I respect Brick to the utmost," Colon said. "I have a problem with the way Brick says and does things sometimes that annoy me.
"Brick is very logical. Conventional. Traditional," he added before flashing a mischievous grin. "He believes in morals. And I'm way right of all that. I'm like chaos. It's bad. But we get along."
Their animated discussions typically are rooted in genuine curiosity. But when either 300-plus-pound lineman refuses to alter his stance, "the conversations get rowdy," Ferguson said.
Said center Nick Mangold: "Willie has a loud enthusiasm, which is fun to have in the room. Especially when him and Brick have an 'airing of grievances,' which they usually do. It's very Festivus-like."
Their disagreements are indicative of their brotherly bond, Colon said.
"Oftentimes I call him my 'frenemy,' " Ferguson said.
It's just good comedy
Their personal battles are waged far from the trenches. And neither is willing to give the other an inch -- especially when it comes to their home turf.
Colon, who signed a $1.2-million deal in March, was Ferguson's training-camp roommate in Cortland. And their "Long Island vs. the boroughs" debate was the first of many spirited conversations to come.
"I'm like, 'Look, man, you might have been born in the Bronx but you chose to come to Hofstra, so obviously you wanted to live that Long Island lifestyle,' " said Ferguson, who has a nearly two-mile stretch of South Ocean Avenue in Freeport named after him.
" . . . So that's where the friction begins."
Known as "The Politician" to his teammates, Ferguson draws out every syllable of his sentences. The words that flow from Colon are colorful in nature, occasionally irreverent and always sincere. And the former Steeler, who is highly intelligent in his own right, is known for taking a far more visceral approach to life.
Said Howard: "Willie is like the friend who wants to get you in trouble all the time."
Colon questioned Ferguson's toughness on Friday after he spotted the left tackle wearing a long-sleeved shirt in sub-60-degree weather. "Offensive linemen don't wear sleeves in games, but in practice, I think you can have a different mentality," the left tackle explained by phone after practice. "But he decided to get on me about that today."
Colon's constant pestering is "a daily-type thing," Ferguson said. But beneath all the bickering is an undeniable bond.
It's all love, they insist.
"Maybe Brick got a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich and maybe Willie thought he should have gotten a turkey sandwich. Something like that," explained Mangold, who also was drafted in 2006.
"It's just good comedy. You sit back and enjoy it, try to decipher who started it and what they're actually arguing about -- 'cause a lot of the time, no one really knows."
Ferguson -- selected fourth overall out of Virginia -- entered the league to much hype and lofty expectations. Since then, he's been named to the Pro Bowl three times. Colon was taken in the fourth round (131st overall) out of Hofstra. But he has the one thing most of his new teammates covet: a Super Bowl ring.
Colon now finds himself trying to resurrect his injury-filled career after seven years with the Pittsburgh Steelers. And Ferguson must prove he can regain his Pro Bowl-caliber production. But their common ground on the gridiron isn't enough to bridge the gap between their contrasting personalities.
"I don't think either one is willing to fully accept the other person's side," Ferguson said. " . . . It's a constant discussion over why one person's right and one person's wrong."
They boldly go where . . .
The fictional characters are an extension of the player, Matt Simms explained.
The first-year quarterback admitted it's "weird" that he, Colon and Ferguson have such a strong affinity for the recently released video "Star Trek Into Darkness." But after a while it becomes apparent. Colon is "Captain Kirk," the leader who doesn't believe in rules and does his own thing. And Ferguson, of course, is "Commander Spock."
"Spock is very logical," Colon said. "If it's not the truth, it doesn't make sense. But they're best friends, they get along, they love each other. So that's kind of how me and Brick's relationship is."
"They say I'm like that little weird guy that hangs out with "Scotty" , so I don't know," Simms said.
Their debates range from the silly to the introspective. One time they discussed the concept of time travel at length. On a different day, they took turns answering the question "What superhero would you want to be?" (Answer: Ferguson would be "Magneto" from X-Men "because his ability to manipulate metal makes him versatile." Said Colon: "I said I wanted to teleport or something like that.").
Debates with Ferguson, a religious studies major, often last all day. But everyone knows no one can match Colon's mouth.
Still, Ferguson admits his new right guard is exactly what the Jets needed.
"I don't know if we've had guys that are that fiery,'' he said. "We've had very animated, great players like Bart Scott and Kris Jenkins. But this is the first time in a while where we've had this on the offense, and particularly in the offensive line room."
Most offensive linemen are "unheard characters" who just do their jobs, Ferguson said. But Colon demands to be both seen and heard.
"He can do that because he's been in big games," Ferguson said. "He's been through the struggles, he knows what it is to play in this league. So it gives him that credibility where people listen to him. It's not just hot air. He knows about that life. It's good to have that type of energy."