The sling still hangs in Leger Douzable's locker, a constant reminder of how quickly life can complicate a simple love of football.
His promising start with the Titans last season ended prematurely when he tore a pectoral muscle during their third preseason game. But in time, the injury gave him perspective.
"When something's taken away from you, you respect it more," the Jets defensive lineman said. "You don't take it for granted."
His NFL journey has taken him to more teams than he ever could have imagined: Minnesota, St. Louis, Detroit, Jacksonville, Tennessee -- even a brief stint with the Giants from 2008-09. But with looming roster cuts, Douzable, 27, wasn't sure if he'd be saying goodbye to Florham Park as well.
"You're never safe," he said after the Jets' 27-20 win over the Eagles Thursday night.
But Douzable is safe. At least for now.
The sixth-year veteran, who went undrafted in 2008, has impressed the Jets' coaching staff with his physical play. And he's looking forward to being "the old man" on the Jets' young, athletic defensive line this season.
"I feel like every system is made for a player. And I think this is the system that I've been waiting for to be in," he said, highlighting the Jets' ability to confuse offenses by lining up defensive players all over the field.
That's why Douzable -- like coach Rex Ryan -- believes the Jets' defense will finish in the top five. "No doubt at all," he said. " . . . It's going to be hard for people to stop us."
Unlike the 22 players who were cut Saturday by the Jets, Douzable will return to the practice facility on Monday. And there, waiting for him in his locker, will be his sling.
"I keep it just to remind me every single day that any play can be your last," he said. "I think about that every time I see it."