Jeremy Mincey has bounced back from adversity his entire life.
Growing up in Statesboro, Ga., poverty swallowed the city. Currently, 43 percent of Statesboro’s population lives under the poverty line.
But Mincey did everything he could to make a name for himself. On the football field is where he found a place to break away from the struggles of his hometown.
He now holds a football camp for children at Jacksonville University to stress the importance of believing in yourself and following your dreams.
“We’re really not doing our job as NFL players if we don’t give back to our communities,” Mincey said. “I share my knowledge and experience so they can be better than I am, most importantly as a man. A good man can make a good football player.”
Mincey has always had that humble approach in his life. In 2006, the New England Patriots selected Mincey in the sixth round and there was no disappointment with being chosen late in the draft.
“I was kinds nervous after the first day I didn’t see my name on the board and I said ‘well maybe they’ll take me on the second day,”’ Mincey said. “I waited and waited and 191 showed up and I popped up on the screen, and my whole family was happy.”
Mincey would never play a down for the Patriots. The 49ers would sign him off of New England’s practice squad, but once again, Mincey never saw playing time.
On Dec. 14, 2006, Mincey was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars on his 23rd birthday.
But, marred by injuries, Mincey would only see action in six regular season games in 2007, and three games in 2008.
The worst injury would come in the 2009 season when he broke his hand. The Jaguars waived Mincey that season, but resigned him after former Gator Derrick Harvey struggled with the team.
Bouncing back from numerous injuries, growing up in an impoverished city and playing on a losing team hasn’t broken the veteran.
“It’s frustrating, but honestly, it’s enlightening,” Mincey said. “Just to see yourself bounce back from all kinds of obstacles, you learn a lot about your resiliency and yourself. I took everything bad in my life and took a positive outlook on it and that’s what has kept me alive and in this game.”
In 2011, Mincey finally lived up to expectations coming out of Florida and started all 16 games for the first time in his career while compiling eight sacks.
He had his best season at a perfect time.
Entering free agency in 2012, Mincey was considered one of the best defensive ends on the market. He signed a 4-year/$20 million deal to stay with the Jaguars. The Chicago Bears offered him more money, but he decided to stay with the Jaguars out of loyalty.
“It’s not about the money,” Mincey said. “It’s about having a piece of mind and happiness. I found a home in my heart being in Jacksonville.”
Mincey has dealt with three coaching changes the past three seasons, a 2-14 Jaguars record (the worst in franchise history), and a new change in ownership. He has also dealt with numerous personnel changes on the defense. Fellow defensive linemen Terrance Knighton and C.J. Mosley were cut this offseason, but Mincey says “that’s just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.”
The defensive end now imparts his wisdom on the younger players around him on the Jags’ defense. The 8-year veteran is one of six players on new head coach Gus Bradley’s 62-man roster with at least eight years of experience.
But even with the influx of youth, Mincey doesn’t classify this team as a “rebuilding team.”
“We don’t have to be a rebuilding team, we can be a really good team,” he said. “If we dedicate ourselves like the way I know we can, we’ll be good.”