If Xavier Omon had been with the Jets during training camp, it surely would have been a journey loved by “Hard Knocks” cameras. Omon’s straight-up survival, though, is anything but picture perfect.
When he was in elementary school, Omon’s older brother was killed by a drunk taxicab driver. The event rocked Omon’s world but more tragedy would befall him several years later. At 14, Omon walked into his bedroom to find his other older brother had committed suicide by hanging himself.
“For sure, that was tough — it was tough to have to go through that and see and experience that,” said Omon, who the Jets signed to their practice squad yesterday. “It isn’t something that I obviously like talking about much.”
Omon went to Division II Northwest Missouri State with the hope of transferring to Nebraska, but instead he found a reason to stay in head coach and father figure Mel Tjeerdsma, who he still talks with twice a week. In fact, his first call after signing a contract with the Jets this week was to his old coach.
“He cared about me not just as a football player on the field, but as a man off of it,” said Omon, who is just the second college player to rush for at least 1,500 yards in four straight seasons..
All of his life experiences have shaped in Omon a work ethic and a desire to prove his worth at the next level. Life is precious to Omon, who says that he wakes up every day wanting to prove himself. Having lost two brothers and growing up in a home without a father, his driving force now is to provide for his mother so that she is never in need again.
“I never want her to have to worry about her future,” Omon said.
Now with the Jets, Omon is in an ideal situation. Sitting behind
LaDainian Tomlinson, he has the chance to be mentored by a future Hall
of Fame back, and with rookie Joe McKnight a disappointment so far,
Omon could vie for a shot at some carries in a run-heavy offense.
“Being here, right now, I am humbled,” Omon said. “You have a great guy out there like L.T. who is one of the best to play, and it shows me how much work I have to do. But I’m gonna do it, like I’ve done all my life, I will go out there and prove it.