ATLANTA – Ramon Humber has done more than just land on his feet.
The former Buffalo Bills’ linebacker has gone from unemployed to the cusp of championship with the New England Patriots. Humber was released by the Bills on Nov. 10 as part of a youth movement after playing in 38 games for Buffalo over three seasons.
Four days later, he signed with New England. As it was with the Bills, Humber’s primary role with the Patriots has been on special teams. He has a team-best three special teams tackles in New England’s two postseason wins.
His departure contributed to the Bills' special teams bombing in 2018, leading to the dismissal of coordinator Danny Crossman.
“We love him on the team,” Patriots special teams coordinator Joe Judge said. “He’s a great guy in the room, definitely a guy who brings a lot of veteran experience and a lot of leadership in his own way of going out and putting an arm around younger guys. It’s so undervalued, what that decade of playing brings to you. A situation arises in a game, and he can draw on his past experiences to make the right decision in the heat of battle.”
Judge didn’t wait long to get Humber involved, playing him on at least 60 percent of the special-teams snaps over the final six games of the regular season.
“I don’t think there really was much of a learning curve for Ramon at all,” Judge said. “We were fortunate enough to have him on our team for spring and training camp a couple years back. We’re very fortunate to have him back again now. I think the trick when you have a guy who comes into your organization, at any time, is to find what connects with them.”
“People think it's a lot of catch-up, but you know certain calls," Humber said. "It takes a week or two to pick up on the stuff, but you recognize the familiar lingo after being in this league for so long. After a while, being a vet, you just pick stuff up, understand concepts and what they're trying to do.”
It is a return to New England for Humber, who signed with the Patriots during the 2016 offseason but was released at final cuts. He joined the Bills the next day and appeared in all 16 games in 2016. Humber saw an expanded role in 2017, making nine starts and playing in 13 games – missing three because of a broken thumb. He started the season strong, making 37 tackles as the Bills jumped out to a 3-1 record.
“We knew he was a good player playing against him,” Judge said. “It’s not my job to evaluate the moves other teams make, but I was happy when we needed a player, he was available. It was a really good pickup for us.”
Humber is usually pretty reserved in interviews, and that was the case during Monday’s “Super Bowl Opening Night” at State Farm Arena.
“Yeah, pretty much,” he said with a smile when asked if he was surprised the Bills moved in a different direction. “I mean, it’s their call. You have to ask them over there about that. I don’t know why they made that decision. I don’t take anything for granted, and I’m here now.”
Four days isn’t a long time to be out of work – unless you’re a 10-year veteran wondering whether your NFL career is going to continue.
“It’s been a journey, I feel like, my whole career. It’s nothing new,” Humber said. “Nothing that’s head-throbbing. I’ve been here before. I came here, things didn’t work out. I went to Buffalo, things didn’t work out there after a few years, and now I’m back here, so it’s not like anything’s changed. I’m just happy to be a part of a team that was going to appreciate me and wanted me there. The opportunity to keep playing, that’s all I cared about.”
Now, that comes with the chance to reach the pinnacle of his profession.
“It means the world,” Humber said of the chance to win his first championship. “As a kid, you grow up dreaming of playing in the Super Bowl. It’s amazing. It’s hard to get here, so when you do, you’ve just got to enjoy it, don’t take anything for granted and do everything you can to win.”
Story topics: Ramon Humber