FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Father and son plan to play a game of golf on Father’s Day. The course and the number of holes won’t matter. It’s been a while.
Kacy Rodgers and Kacy Rodgers II will be together on Father’s Day for the first time in years. Kacy II says it’s been 10 years. His dad doesn’t real ly remember. They just know it’s their day, a special day for both.
Kacy Rodgers is the Jets’ defensive coordinator. His son is a safety trying to make the team’s 53-man roster.
Barring a sudden change, son will be with “Pops” this summer, attempting to live out his dream of making an NFL team.
And that journey has kept them separated for years.
“For that fact alone, it’s special. Not only that, it’s Father’s Day,” Kacy II said. “I’m the only child, but we haven’t real ly been around each other this often since sophomore year in high school. This is probably the first time I’ve seen my dad more than once or twice a year in 10 years, a long time. To have this moment with the circumstances that are surrounding it is something I can’t describe.”
It was a wonderful moment when the Jets signed Kacy II to a free-agent contract in February. Kacy Rodgers knew his son was trying to make an NFL team, having been at tryouts with the Patriots, the Bills and the Jets last year.
Jets coach Todd Bowles called his defensive coordinator with the news, which was met with surprise.
“I’m sitting here saying ‘no way,’ and I’m sitting here in the building, which makes me feel good,” Kacy Rodgers said. “It wasn’t me. It was totally based on his merit.”
Kacy II got started in football at the age of 7 in Southlake, Texas, when his dad was an assistant coach with the Miami Dolphins. He was good enough to get 26 college scholarship offers and chose Miami. But even though father and son were in the same state, it was rare for Kacy Rodgers to see his son play. He had a job coaching NFL players while his son was playing college ball.
After college, Kacy II went undrafted. He spent time in the Canadian Football League with the Edmonton Eskimos in 2015 and Saskatchewan Rough riders in 2016-17, hoping to prove himself there so an NFL team would give him a chance.
“You go to [Miami], it’s NFL U, it’s a pipeline to the pros,” Kacy II said. “It’s interesting those later years. Only the NFL was on my mind. There was no way I was going to the CFL. Miami guys, we don’t go to the CFL.”
Kacy Rodgers offered advice but didn’t want to interfere too much because he wanted his son to make it on his own.
But he wanted to see his son play in person. If a CFL game wasn’t on one of the ESPN networks, the CFL coaches would send Kacy Rodgers game video.
Last year, after the Jets’ last offseason workout, he caught a flight from New York to Vancouver to see a preseason game. It was the first time Kacy Rodgers saw his son play as a pro.
“There was my dad,” Kacy II said. “Crazy! Crazy, man.”
Kacy II worked out for the Jets during the middle of last season but didn’t get signed. Kacy Rodgers watched the workout but had nothing to do with the decision.
Kacy II kept working until the Jets called his agent and signed him to the 90-man training camp roster in February. He has participated in the offseason workouts and was part of mandatory minicamp this past week. He will try to make the 53-man roster in camp, which begins next month.
“It’s surreal from the standpoint of growing up being a coach’s kid,” Kacy Rodgers said. “I didn’t have the opportunity to coach him in little league or coach his AAU team, and the first time I get to coach him is on the highest level of football.”
These days, the two spend their time on the practice fields and in meeting rooms. Kacy II calls his dad “Coach Rodgers.” But sometimes he slips and calls him “Pops.”
“Once 8 a.m. starts, he’s No. 39, trying to make the Jets,” Kacy Rodgers said. “That’s all we kind of worry about.”
During the offseason practices, Kacy II intercepted a pass and the players reacted with cheers, some saying, “That’s Kacy’s son!”
“When I look back, he’s a self-made man,” Kacy Rodgers said. “I just sit and watch.”