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Great Article On John Abraham


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Falcons DE John Abraham Chose to Look Out for Family Instead of Chasing Bigger Bucks

Nearly three weeks ago, four-time Pro Bowl defensive end John Abraham relished his first foray into NFL free agency.

Although he's preparing for his 13th NFL season, Abraham had never previously hit the open market. He was traded to the Atlanta Falcons in 2006 as his rookie contract with the New York Jets expired, and then signed a six-year, $45 million extension.

After posting 9 ½ sacks last season, Abraham - at the age of 33 - became an unrestricted free agent. And while Yahoo! Sports confirmed that the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos displayed some interest and Abraham says at least one other club dangled more money in front of him, he ultimately signed a three-year contract, $16 million with the Falcons for a simple reason: because of his family.

Abraham has a daughter in Atlanta and is now raising three nephews, including 16-year-old Tyquan, who has lived with him since last July.

"There's no point in trying to chase a check," Abraham said from his home in a north Atlanta suburb. "At the end of the day, my heart wanted to stay here. One of my daughters is here, and I got my nephew doing well in school."

Family matters

Abraham discovered last summer that his oldest nephew had landed in foster care in South Carolina. Tyquan Abraham had been expelled from two schools, and was said to have been kicked out of his mother's home after an incident in which he and his stepfather were both hospitalized.

"He was going down the wrong path," John Abraham said.

So Abraham insisted Tyquan move in with him, an idea that alarmed his god sister, Tarica Worthy.

"I was afraid at first; I'm not going to lie," Worthy recalled. "John was a single man. We had a talk, and I said, 'This is a big responsibility.'

"He thought it might be easy, because [Tyquan]is a teenager. 'I don't have to change Pampers or anything.' I said 'Those are the ones you have to watch the most.' "

Worthy said Tyquan wouldn't listen to anyone - except his uncle John.

And John could empathize with Tyquan.

John was raised in Timmonsville, S.C., by his mother. He's got a complicated family, which includes a sister, but he's closest to Worthy. Although his biological father lived just five miles away, his dad didn't care to see him, and John vividly recalled an incident when he was 6 years old. His father came to visit his mother at Christmas, and he brought John a big box of toys. But John says his parents got into an argument, and his father packed all the toys in a bag and left.

"When I was younger, sure it bothered me. But it made me stronger as a person. It makes me want to be in my kids' life.

"Some things aren't meant to be. My dad was a drug dealer and alcoholic. Maybe if I had a relationship with him, maybe I'd be a worse person. At the end of the day, I had a strong mom, and she made me the man I am today."

In addition to the daughter in Atlanta, John has another one in St. Louis and he speaks to them nearly every day. On Valentine's Day, he surprised his 10-year-old daughter in St. Louis, flying from Atlanta, and picking her up after school to take her to dinner and a movie.

"You got to be there for them," John said of his daughters. "You can't just give them a check."

Last chance

Initially, when Tyquan moved into his house, John babied him. Although school was a short walk, John would drive Tyquan. He also handed him a new cell phone and an allowance.

But, within days, Tyquan got into trouble at school. John followed his instincts. He took away Tyquan's privileges, and he had a serious talk with him.

"I said, 'When I stop caring, it's over.' Everyone else was getting tired of him," John said. "I'm not going to take care of a kid who ain't trying."

Besides, John pointed out, Tyquan was suddenly privileged.

"It was kind of like the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," Abraham said, referring to a popular sitcom in the 1990s that starred Will Smith as a teenager who is shipped from a rough neighborhood in Philadelphia to live with a wealthy aunt and uncle in California. "He went from a [foster] house with six boys, and it's me and him. He's got everything he wants.

"Why would you mess that up?"

John gave each of Tyquan's teachers his cell phone number, and he insisted they call him for any reason.

Tyquan's grades quickly improved. D's and F's turned into A's, B's and C's.

"His pride started to kick in," John said.

Tyquan recognizes that his life has taken a drastic turn for the better since moving from South Carolina to Atlanta.

"I probably would have gone down the wrong path," the soft-spoken teenager says.

He also acknowledges that foster care was hard. He said none of the caretakers paid him any attention.

"The coolest thing is, he's like a father to me," Tyquan says of John. "It's just fun to be around him all the time."

They'll play video games together (NBA2K is a favorite), and they go to the movies a lot.

Tyquan is doing his laundry, he's got a girlfriend, and he's hoping to get his driver's license. But before he's allowed to get behind the wheel, John has a simple request of Tyquan: "Pass ninth grade first."

Not surprisingly, Tyquan also wants to play football - he wants to be a linebacker.

"I want to get on the field," Tyquan said. "It's my favorite sport."

Quipped John, "I tell him, 'You're going to get blasted.' "

Growing brood

A month ago, John took in two more nephews. The two boys, ages 16 and 6, are brothers.

When John's not in town, he'll call upon a cousin who lives in the area to help, or ask a relative to drive the three hours from South Carolina.

"I'm proud of him," Tarica said of her older brother. "I have a lot of respect for him.

"He has a big heart."

John often calls upon Tarica, not only because she handles most of his affairs - serving as the point person for his businesses and commitments - but also for parenting advice, since she has a son and daughter.

More than anything, John constantly tells his daughters and his nephews that he loves them.

"I try to keep them close. I tell them I love them, stuff I didn't get when I was younger," he said. "But they say, 'Uh, why you tell me you love me?' But as you get older, that stuff matters."

Jajuan Josey said his 6-year-old brother Bryson loves John's big house and big yard. And he can't quite believe their good fortune, given their previous challenges.

"We were going through a tough time, and he saw that and he took us in," Jajuan said. "It means a lot. It shows that even if you've got money, you're not too good to take care of family. It shows that he cares a lot."

Jajuan said he often thinks about where he might be, whether he'd be with his grandmother or in the projects back in South Carolina.

"It's a blessing, you know?" he said. "You wouldn't think that we'd go from living in the country to living with him.

"It's basically too good to be true."

Reading this makes me respect John Abraham so much more. I hope he stays motivated and plays lights out so he can earn those huge $ bonuses in his contract.

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And that's why Abe is back and Lofton isn't. Those are the guys you want on your team. Abe has never gotten that big contract he deserved (biggest was 6yr $45MM). But it wasn't about the money. He truly loves the sport and doing the right thing. He never puts himself over the circumstances obviously. After reading this, I don't think we will see Abe's play fall off this year or next. He's got something to play for and that works wonders

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All the people who gave Abe a hard time on Twitter because he was a FA should be ashamed of themselves. This is a man that had all the reasons in the world to go out and get a bigger paycheck, but chose to stay and play for less for those same reasons....family. Not many players would do what Abe did under the same circumstances.

I'm proud to know we have such a player on the Atlanta Falcons!

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Now that this article has been out his demand for 12 a year makes sense. The fact that he came back to a team friendly deal shows nothing but class, very unselfish player and we couldn't ask for better. Hopefully he still has a lot left to help us win rings!!!

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Wow, that was a great article. Too often we only hear or read about the negative press, but this is the kind of story which makes me root for a player. Glad he's back at a respectable price.
That is good stuff man. It makes me mad that someone would call him a p***y on his twitter account. Just goes to show that there is more that goes on behind the curtains than most people realize.


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Guest Negatorris

I hated when I saw people bashing JA55 on Twitter. I won't defend Lofton, but Abe is too classy for that. He only has good intentions. People were attacking him worse than the Taints fans that bash Roddy anytime he tweets.

Roddy: The Heat can play better than this.


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