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John DeShazier: Jabari Greer has harmoniously blended with his Saints defensive teammates

Posted Nov 17, 2013

He's been a mainstay on defense since joining team in 2009

Jabari GreerThe The featured artist today could be Christian Scott, a Grammy-nominated jazz trumpeter and composer who was born in New Orleans, or it could be Houston-born jazz pianist Robert Glasper.

Or maybe, if New Orleans Saints cornerback Jabari Greer wants to reach back and get in touch with his roots, if he wants to frame his mind and as he did when he starred as a wide receiver, running back and cornerback at South Side High in Jackson, Tenn., he could plug in to Playa Fly, the Memphis, Tenn., rapper whose music Greer used to ready himself for games back in 1994.

“It differs,” Greer said. “It goes from jazz to soul, R&B to old-school rap. There are some songs that I grew up on, that inspired me as a kid, that I still play. So it really ranges.”

What’s constant, though, is the music.

Greer, who’s in his 10th NFL season and his fifth with the Saints, is more than a lover of music. He’s a student of it, a man immersed enough that he appeared and played with the Treme Brass Band for an NFL Network shoot, to promote New Orleans’ Super Bowl XLVII week.

“Playing with Treme was incredible,” he said. “Knowing the history of the band and the many world-renowned musicians that have played with that band, to be a part of that is hard to explain.

“I definitely enjoyed it and they welcomed me in the way that is typical of New Orleans – open arms.”

The Saints’ organization welcomed him the same way in 2009, when he joined the team as an unrestricted free agent from Buffalo. And since, he harmoniously has blended with his defensive teammates, often creating a sweet sound along the way.

Greer has had the most productive seasons of his career in New Orleans. He’s never posted less than 51 tackles; his high in five seasons in Buffalo was 47. Eight of his 12 career interceptions have been as a Saint, along with half of his four interceptions returned for touchdowns.

His only postseason appearances and victories have been in New Orleans, including a 10-tackle, three pass-breakup performance against Minnesota in the 2009 NFC championship game.

It’s a career story that, perhaps one day, could be set to music. And if any player would know the score which best would fit, it’d be Greer, who gained an appreciation for the art at an early age.

“My love of music definitely comes from my father and mother, when I was young,” he said. “It seems that everything we did was set to music. We would eat, clean on Saturday – we understood what music meant. It was a time to get together or do something special. We knew that when we came home from school, if the curtains were open and there was music playing, then we were going to do some serious cleaning. We knew that. And it became a staple in our life.

“When we moved from Houston to a small town, Denmark, Tenn., we moved into a house that belonged to my great uncle. It was fully furnished, but from the 1970s. So they had everything like space heaters, the pleather couches.

“But one thing they had in my room was a record player and in the garage was a homemade built shelf that lined both walls of the garage. And there were thousands of vinyl albums in the garage that my cousin collected.

“So whenever I got home from school, or throughout my whole weekend, it was filled with going through the walls and looking at different music genres that covered jazz, R&B, pop – from the Ohio Players to Elton John. Those were special times in my life that really planted a seed that I’ve been trying to water ever since.”

Seems that he has done a solid job of that, as well as becoming a well-rounded individual.

In college, Greer was a three-year starter at Tennessee who became the 2003 NCAA champion in the 60-meter hurdles. He was a two-time Southeastern Conference champion in indoor and outdoor hurdles, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

His foundation – the Greer Campaign – emphasizes fatherhood and uniting families, providing support for fathers and community service programs to fathers and their families in New Orleans and in Tennessee.

But in the background, the music always is playing.

“I think that music puts you into a certain frame of mind,” he said. “That’s why I believe it’s very important, the music that we listen to. It sets the tone for our thoughts and our feelings.

“A clear and positive mind-set is crucial for successful play. When I get out there and play, there are certain songs that I listen to that put me in the right mind-set, that prepare me for the battle that’s about to take place.”

A decade in the NFL, after entering as an undrafted free agent, suggests that it has helped.

“I think that it’s a blessing that I’ve been able to play this long,” he said. “I realize that it’s a blessing that I worked truly hard for, but I understand that it’s bigger than me.

“God has a plan for my life and for my career. So with that, I know that it’s bigger than me. So when I go out there I try to play to the best of my abilities and I try to understand my role in the locker room and in the community, because I understand the impact that professional athletes had on me at such a young age.

“Playing 10 years, I don’t take it for granted at all. I’ve enjoyed every opportunity that I’ve had but I realize that it wasn’t me pulling the strings. It wasn’t only my hard work and my dedication that got me to this point. I understand that God has led me here for a reason, and I try to search every day for an opportunity to be an impact, whether it’s on the field or in the locker room or in the community.”

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