Steve Yarnell, the Jets vice president of security, has retired. You might not recognize that name, but Yarnell has been a very influential man within the organization. He conducted background checks on players the Jets have acquired.
Yarnell's future connection to the Jets began when he was a three-year letterman on defense for the U.S. Military Academy, where he played under then Army assistant coach Bill Parcells. He moved on to become an infantry officer, an honor graduate of the Army's Ranger School and Airborne School. He then worked as an FBI special agent on criminal and terrorism matters and in the National Security Division through 1997.
He also investigated the first World Trade Center bombing of 1993.
Yarnell has been very successful in his tenure. Even though the team has taken on a number of players with previous records over the past decade, many players other teams would not touch, the team has had one of the lowest arrest rates in the league in that span. That's a credit to the job he did.
There is a story that is legendary in Jets circles about how Yarnell staked his reputation on believing Laveranues Coles had overcome problems from college. That story always left an impact on me. There was something else. Once an agent of a player the Jets had just acquired with a troubled past told me that the fact the player passed Yarnell's background check made him feel more confident his client had turned the corner. It was stunning an agent would ever say such a thing about a client, but that shows how respected Yarnell is around the league.
The Jets are going to miss him. Whoever replaces him has big shoes to fill.