God doesn’t say “oops.”
For Rockdale County native and second-year Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, that may be the thesis statement of his young NFL career. He said it during his last interview with reporters after Atlanta’s 44-21 NFC Championship win over Green Bay last Sunday that punched the Falcons’ ticket to Super Bowl LI next Sunday against the New England Patriots.
Jarrett racked up 48 tackles, including 21 solo stops and three sacks in his sophomore NFL season. In playoff games against the Packers and Seattle Seahawks, he’s had five total tackles and two assists.
He also helped an active Atlanta front seven get pressure on Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers in a way Rodgers hadn’t seen in the last eight or nine games.
For some, it would seem like a mere coincidence that Jarrett, a Conyers native and Rockdale High graduate who has fond memories of playing against and spending time with athletes from Newton and Rockdale counties, could find himself headed to Houston with a chance to win football’s biggest prize with his hometown squad.
But, again, Jarrett doesn’t believe in coincidences.
“First off, I just have to thank God for making it happen,” Jarrett said. “It’s crazy, because what are really the odds of this happening? Of me being able to play with my hometown team, getting drafted here and having an opportunity to play in a Super Bowl. Growing up in East Atlanta, Rockdale County and around the Covington area, it will just mean so much if we win it – when we win it.”
Jarrett has that attitude, in large part due to the circumstances that surrounded him and his family during the time of the 2015 NFL Draft.
“During the draft, my family’s house caught on fire, and our family was displaced for a long time,” Jarrett said. “If I were anywhere else I don’t know what would have been. My extended family helped us out a lot before I landed here and got me a spot. Then they stayed with me for months. It was just awesome to see us now be able to rebuild in a better way.”
Jarrett said he has fond memories about growing up and playing with Rockdale and Newton area athletes. And he said that his place of success and opportunity is something he takes pride in – especially when he knows that people from his old stomping grounds are looking at him.
And Jarrett has a message for those young student-athletes who may be looking at the hometown guy for an example.
“A lot of people in our area didn’t make it out as far as athletes,” he said. “They had the ability to play big time, but it just comes down to guys being disciplined and staying out of trouble. Staying on your school work as well. I would tell any young boys in the Rockdale County and Covington area to just start early, if this is a place you think you want to be.
“Nothing is gonna be given to you. Nobody owes you anything. It’s not going to be easy. Seeing me in the physical being here may look like it’s easy, but it’s not. There’s a lot of work you have to do when people aren’t watching and having self-belief when everybody’s doubting you.”