Santonio Holmes was walking his puppy Sunday night, enjoying the crisp air, when he received a call from Kevin Colbert.
The Steelers general manager told the Super Bowl XLIII MVP he had been traded, which stunned Holmes. The talented wide receiver had no clue he was on the trading block, even with all the off-the-field baggage that made him worth only a fifth-round selection in next week's draft.
"Everything that happened has happened for a reason," Holmes said Monday. "[I'm] definitely being accountable for what happened. Getting traded at the age of 26, that's not a bad thing. There have been plenty of guys before me that were traded and started their career over with another team and have been very successful, such as Cris Carter.
"So it's definitely not a bad thing to be traded at a young age. It just gives you an opportunity and a fresh start - to sit back and understand all of the mistakes that you've made and you're willing to accept them and move forward."
But it's going to be a while before Holmes can totally move forward. The NFL has suspended him for the season's first four games for violating its substance-abuse policy. Holmes still can participate in the Jets' offseason conditioning program, training camp, preseason practices and games, but another violation would trigger a full-season suspension. That helps explain why the Steelers reportedly didn't receive many offers for him.
"We understood that was part of it, but we just felt like even with that, it was worth it," general manager Mike Tannenbaum said. "Obviously, a guy with his production and at 26 years old, he would not have been available if these indiscretions didn't happen, and obviously the suspension. But with that said, we just felt like the risk and the price was reasonable for us."
Statistically speaking, Holmes is at the top of his game, coming off a career year in which he caught 79 passes for 1,248 yards. His off-field indiscretions drew the Steelers' ire, though, and Holmes is facing a lawsuit from a woman who alleges that he threw a glass at her in an Orlando, Fla., nightclub March 7.
Holmes also was cited for marijuana possession during a traffic stop in 2008 and was suspended by coach Mike Tomlin for a game. The charges later were dropped.
He was arrested on a domestic-violence allegation involving his daughter's mother in 2006 and was arrested for disorderly conduct that same year. Both charges were dropped.
"To go back down the same road," Holmes said, "make the same mistakes, won't be accepted."
He also recently was accused of telling a fan to "kill urself" on his Twitter page, though he indicated Monday that he wasn't the one who wrote that message. But he's aware he must keep his head on straight because he's on board to help win a Super Bowl.
"I know for a fact that that's why they brought me here," Holmes said. "The opportunity presented itself for the Jets to acquire me and I'm definitely here for a reason.
"My goal is, wherever I'm playing at, each season that I'm playing, is to try to win a championship. With the opportunity that's been presented to me, I'm willing to take it and step up to the [plate] and go forward."