Every time Jets linebacker Harvey Langi steps on the field for a practice or a game he takes a deep breath and appreciates that he’s still able to play football.
When he was a rookie with the Patriots in 2017, Langi and his wife, Cassidy, were in a terrible car collision. The driver of the other vehicle had an open bottle of alcohol and three different prescription drugs in his car.
Langi suffered injuries to his head, neck, back and knees. His wife broke both hips, multiple ribs, sustained a concussion and needed 15 staples to close the wound on her head. Langi said at the time he didn’t know for three hours how his wife was because they were in different hospitals.
Playing football was the last thing on his mind. He just wanted to know if his wife was going to be all right, and that they both would live.
"That personally just ruined me because you don’t know any information," Langi said on a Zoom call Wednesday afternoon. "Once I knew we were OK, it changed me as a person to not take anything for granted, the things that are important: your family, your friends, your relationships you got to keep those tight. Call your parents, call your brothers and sisters, tell them you love them."
Once Langi realized his wife was all right and he was too, he started thinking about returning to football.
Langi, 28, was told by doctors and other people close to him that it would be difficult to play again, and he should really think about it. Langi said it crossed his mind that he may have to be an assistant coach or a graduate assistant somewhere. But he was driven to resume playing football.
"In my mind it was always I’m going to get back on that field somehow someway," Langi said.
Now he’s starting at inside linebacker for Jets.
"Once I knew that I was OK and I was alive and I could move my body and move my feet, I was like, ‘You know what, whatever anybody says, I’m going to overcome this and I’m going to work hard to get back on the field,’" Langi said. "Now being back on the field, before a game or before practice, I take a deep breath and go back to, ‘Man I can’t believe I’m playing this game again,’ and get that perspective of ‘This is awesome and I’m super blessed and grateful that I get to be on this field again.
"I can’t just sit back and let this opportunity slip away."
Langi is making the most of his opportunity now, and isn’t letting the fact that the Jets are winless stop him from enjoying this season.
He played 16 games with the Jets last year, but mostly on special teams. Injuries and the Jets dealing away linebackers during this lost season opened things up for Langi.
Langi started the last three games and has played with energy and passion. He has recorded 29 tackles, and either led the team or finished second in each game.
"There’s a lot of people that would want to be in the seats that we’re in," Langi said. "My job is to come here and do everything I can on the defensive side and special teams to make the Jets a better team and to get wins."
That hasn’t happened yet. But Langi is able to keep it in perspective and even looks at the situation philosophically.
"It’s not going to be a perfect road in front of us all the time," Langi said. "Right now, it’s going to be pretty bumpy for us. There’s a lot of things you can do. [Linebackers] coach Joe Vitt always tells us, ‘You can either fall back or you can fight. A lot of us, we do not want to fall back. The biggest thing we want to do is keep on fighting.
"There’s a lot of others that would die to be in our seat. A lot of us are willing keep striving to do the things that we can do and fix up the small things that are taking away our chances to win. Positive attitude and positive energy that’s always something you need to flip the script."
Langi would know.