When the Arena Football League folded in 2009, Garrett McIntyre knew the NFL wasn't an immediate option.
Instead, the former Fresno State star went to Canada, playing for Hamilton of the CFL. It worked wonders for his long-term future.
After two seasons with the Tiger-Cats, the New York Jets brought McIntyre in for a workout and signed him to a contract.
He played in all 16 games a year ago. This season, his third, he has 14 tackles and two sacks in eight games, including three starts.
"I just wanted to keep playing," he said, "whether it was in the Arena League, Canada or whatever."
It wasn't easy for McIntyre, who despite going from walk-on to 2005 Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year at Fresno State was undrafted by the NFL in 2006.
He signed with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent but was cut.
Arizona called, but cut him, too. A short stay with the Tennessee Titans followed.
McIntyre turned to the AFL's San Jose SaberCats in 2007. He played two seasons, only to see the league suspend operations entering 2009.
Off he went to Hamilton, where he posted 51 tackles and nine sacks in two years.
"It's been a rough road back," McIntyre said. "I worked hard and eventually I made it to the NFL."
In his first two seasons with the Jets, McIntyre had 53 tackles and 31/2 sacks.
McIntyre still primarily plays on special teams, but got a chance to start early this season after regular outside linebacker Quinton Coples had ankle surgery.
"I kind of have to know everything," McIntyre said. "That's my job … to be the guy who can back up a lot of different positions and do almost everything."
In an up-and-down season, the Jets have alternated wins and losses all year. But at 4-4, they're still in the playoff chase.
"We have a good group of guys who are close," he said. "I've never felt that in my first two years here. The vibe in the locker room is great."
McIntyre credits his success to his former college defensive line coach Kerry Locklin, a Jets assistant before McIntyre arrived and now on the Fresno City College staff.
"I was with him for four years at Fresno," McIntyre said. "I was a 17-year-old true freshman walk-on when I met him.
"What I appreciated about him is he didn't treat me any different. He really helped me develop from a boy to a man. He taught me fundamentals that I'm still using to this day that have gotten me to the NFL. He was the guy who taught me how to play the run, how to use my hands … things that are essential moving from college to the NFL level."
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