"Neon" Leon Washington was "Neon" before he actually wore neon.
Washington, now a Seattle Seahawk, was the New York Jets' most elusive player in the mid-2000s, returning four kickoffs for touchdowns after being drafted by Gang Green in 2006. He also set a franchise record for all-purpose yards in a season in 2008.
Being drafted in the same class as franchise linemen Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson, and just a year off of arguably the team's two best defensive players, Washington knew his time with the Jets was short due to finances.
The 5-foot-8 all-purpose back fractured his fibula during the 2009 season and was traded to Seattle before the 2010 NFL campaign. Washington says he understood the move and had no hard feelings. (photo: gmo66, Flickr)
"I remember when I got traded, Rex [Ryan] came and talked to me and said, 'Look, Leon, we have to pay a bunch of guys, Nick Mangold, David Harris' — I remember him saying the names — 'Darrelle Revis' and stuff like that," Washington told the New York media Wednesday, via the team's website. "It’s a business, so I understand it.
"I was thankful that I had the opportunity that they drafted me in the first place. It was awesome."
Washington, who will face his former team Sunday when the Seahawks host the Jets, ran back two kickoffs for touchdowns in a single game against the San Diego Chargers in 2010 and scored on another return that season.
"He’s been a real fixture for us," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "We’re trying to have a complete football team and you want to fit it together with special teams. We’ve been really solid on special teams throughout the time we’ve been here and Leon has been a big factor in that.