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Carl Lawson thrilled his father will be at Jets opener

Sunday will be special for Carl Lawson, but not because it will be his first game that counts in 20 months.

The presence of his father, Carl Lawson Sr., in the crowd is what excites him about the regular-season opener against the Ravens.

“My dad hasn’t seen me play in a long time,” the Jets defensive end said Thursday. “It’s a real big emotion that way.”

After signing a three-year, $45 million deal with the Jets in March 2021, Lawson missed all of last season because of a ruptured Achilles tendon. That was nothing compared to what his father dealt with, nearly losing his life in a battle with COVID-19.

Carl Lawson
Carl Lawson
Bill Kostroun

Lawson thought Carl Sr., who played college football at Georgia Tech in the late 1980s, would never be able to watch him in action again after joining the Jets. That’s how serious it got. He was in the hospital for, in Lawson’s words, “forever.” SNY reported the elder Lawson was hospitalized for nine weeks, spending a significant amount of time on a ventilator.

“I thought I was going to lose him a while ago, right around the time after I signed my contract,” Lawson said. “I was like, ‘Damn, he’s not going to get to see me play as a Jet.’ That’s why it’s important to me. You never know when your last opportunity for anything is.”

The game Sunday will be Lawson’s first real contest in green, and he will have his family there to take it all in. The Jets are excited to see how Lawson can bolster their front seven after he missed all of last season. His addition should make an already strong defensive front even better. Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich called Lawson a “unicorn,” because of his unique body type for his position. Instead of a long, speedy athlete, Lawson is built like a brick.

“He is absolutely impossible to replicate,” Ulbrich said. “He brings not only a pass rush and he brings skill, but he also brings this toughness and this effort and this mindset that absolutely rubs off on other people. We missed him last year, we’re excited to have him back.”

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