FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Bart Scott stood in the hallway of the Jets' training facility, his voice barely audible against the backdrop of chatty football players in a crowded locker room behind him.
His garish, trash-talking persona, playfully nicknamed the "Madbacker" during his days in Baltimore, was nowhere to be found.
"You've got the football player that's talkative and somewhat of an entertainer, but then you have the person that's . . . a person," the Jets linebacker said softly.
Unbeknownst to Jets fans, Scott is many different things off the field. Family man. Mentor. Community leader. Devoted teammate.
"When I'm not in that [football] mode, I'm quiet, calm and collected,'' he said. "On the field, it's a totally different beast."
Rex Ryan, team owner Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Tannenbaum had a vision for the 2009 Jets. They revamped the defense during the offseason by adding guys such as safety Jim Leonhard, defensive end Marques Douglas and cornerback Lito Sheppard.
But Scott was the first - and most important - acquisition.
What the Jets got was an anchor for the defense. And in his first year with the team, he has helped transform a mediocre defense into the NFL's top-ranked unit.
Scott has always been a star, long before the Jets pried him away from the Ravens with a six-year deal worth $48 million.
His mother, Dorita Adams, nicknamed him "Bart Star" - a play off the name of legendary Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr. It was her way of reminding her son how special he was and encouraging him to always be great.
"She always put that bug in my ear that 'you're special. God only made one of you,' " Scott said.
He is a trailblazer back in his impoverished Detroit neighborhood, the first college graduate on Adams' side of the family. And though he now lives nearly 600 miles from home, he often returns.
Scott established the A Son Never Forgets Foundation in October 2006 after his cousin was paralyzed in a random shooting at a local bar. He also purchased land near his grandmother's house on Hurlbut Street, just blocks away from his old high school, to turn into a neighborhood park.
"He's a family man and he cares about his community," said Douglas, a former Raven who first met Scott in 2002. "What more could you want from a guy?"
Said Sheppard: "His kids run over him. He's a softie when it comes to that part. I don't think I've ever heard him tell his kids no. Not one time."
And just as Scott's grandmother's house was a refuge from the Detroit streets littered with crack houses and gangs, his northern New Jersey home has become a weekly clubhouse of sorts for his teammates.
He invited teammates and coaches to a Thanksgiving feast at his yellow, 16,000-square-foot Mediterranean-Floridian-style mansion. And since then, he's hosted a weekly "guys' night" to promote team unity.
"You can always tell a team that loves each other and cares about each other, versus a team that's just playing for individual accolades or for a check," Scott said.
After seven years with the Ravens, it took Scott some time to foster those friendships with the Jets. "But," he said with a playful smile, "my personality lends well to new environments.
"I really throw myself on people - either you like me or you hate me. And even if you hate me at first, you'll like me later. Or, maybe, I hope you'll like me later. But you'll realize that I'm a person that really cares about my teammates."
And the team love he helped initiate now is evident on the field. After a 4-6 start, the Jets are 6-1 since Thanksgiving.
Said Scott: "It's a process. You have to go through some adversity together because when you go through adverse situations, the only person you've got to lean on is the person next to you."