It's official, South Tahoe's Garrett McIntyre made it through final roster cuts and will take the field Sunday for the Jets' opening game against the Bills at 10 a.m.“This is what you work for,” McIntyre said. “You can finally almost take a deep breath because you made it and that's always a good feeling.”It was a nerve-racking month leading up to the final cuts, but McIntyre played well in preseason and felt as confident as any NFL rookie really can going in. With a year of special teams defense under his belt, McIntyre cruised through the Jets' four preseason games. The 6-foot-3, 255-pound linebacker led the team in tackles in the final game against the Eagles, recording seven. The experience McIntyre gained on the Jets' special teams last year slowed the game down for him. He now had a better understanding of their defense.Even after his stellar preseason performance, with the cut deadline looming McIntyre felt at best “less worried than last year.” Comfortable would be a stretch. “They don't tell you if you made it. You just know that if you're there at the meeting at the end of the day then you made the team,” McIntyre said.It was a long road for McIntyre to make that meeting room. It started on the South Tahoe Pop Warner field and continued into the Vikings' football program.“Probably high school is when I decided it would be great if I could play professionally someday. Did I really know it was going to come true? Probably not, but it's kind of always in the back of your head,” McIntyre said.After high school, McIntyre went on to play at Fresno State where he started his patient climb up the big stage ladder. As a senior, McIntyre recorded 29 tackles, seven sacks, a forced fumble and a blocked kick earning him Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year. It was a performance eye-catching enough to get him signed as an undrafted free agent by the Seahawks in 2006. He then spent the 2006 preseason with the Cardinals and Titans. From there it was on to the Arena Football League where McIntyre improved for two years before moving to the Canadian Football League where he amassed 51 tackles and nine sacks. McIntyre patiently put his time in on the football bubble, chasing his NFL dreams all the while.“To get to the NFL you have got to eat it, dream it and think it, and he did. He did without anyone ever telling him to. He just did it,” McIntyre's mom, Monique said. Monique, who knows better than anyone what McIntyre put in, will be at Steamers watching her son play out his dreams. Monique always finds a way to watch her son play, even if that means buying the preseason NFL games online.“It's a much bigger league but to me it's still just Garrett. He walks the same, he looks the same, it's just a different uniform,” Monique said. On Sunday, as McIntyre suits up in the Jets' green-and-whites for the first game of the season, it will be nice to know he has support back home. “I know after the game that everyone's there cheering and rooting for the local kid,” McIntyre said. “Hopefully I make them proud.”
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