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Finishing fast


He has yet to lead the Jaguars to a win by returning an interception for a touchdown, or sacking the quarterback for a safety, but James Trapp has already scored big points with his teammates and the Jacksonville community.

The Jaguars have rallied behind the Greenville, S.C. native and former NFL's Fastest Man because of the way he approaches the game both on and off the field.

"I'm very happy with what I've accomplished in my career. I had a rough go of it early on in my career with off the field issues, but as a player and a person who's grown up around the game I'm thankful for where I am today," said Trapp, the Jaguars' nickel defensive back. "I have the same tenacity and drive for the game now that I did when I was younger, the difference is now I am smarter about how this game works."

Trapp prides himself on being a true student of the game and has a lot of knowledge to share if anyone cares to listen. He studies film of himself and opponents for hours at a time — not because he has to, but because he wants to.

"I love this game," Trapp said. "I love the week of preparation before a game. I truly enjoy watching film and breaking down what my opponents are trying to do and trying to figure out their tendencies."

This is Trapp's 11th season in the NFL and he has appeared in almost 150 games, so there are very few tricks he hasn't seen.

"James brings knowledge to the game," said Jaguars cornerback Jason Craft. "He's been around for a while, so he's seen some things. It's good having him around because he is a great talker out there on the field during the games. He sees things sometimes that we don't see that he may have seen some years ago. It's always good to have someone around that knows more than you do."

Trapp has not only brought a wealth of experience to Jacksonville, he's brought a ton of energy and excitement that is tough to contain at times. Before the game against the Texans earlier this year in Houston, Trapp was seen doing the "Toro dance" with the people who were performing for the Hispanic Day halftime show. He can also be seen dancing and singing on the sidelines during games trying to keep his teammates loose and having fun.

"If you see me out there on the field or the sideline and I'm not dancing or singing then I must be sick, or something is wrong with me or the music stinks," Trapp said. "Win, lose or draw I like to have fun with the game, and I put everything I have into it."

"Trapp brings excitement and leadership. He also brings the know how from the game," said Jaguars cornerback Fernando Bryant. "During the week, we sit down and talk about things that he sees, and he tries to help me with about going up against wide receivers every week. He's been in the game so long, he seen just about every route that somebody can throw at you.

"He tries to help me understand the game, being that I'm a young player," added Bryant, who's in his fifth season.

As much effort and time Trapp puts into having fun and preparing himself for football, he spends just as much time in the community pouring his time and energy into kids who badly want someone who cares.

"The reason I spend so much time out in the community is because I had someone who did it for me," Trapp said. "There are a lot of kids out there who want to be loved. I know I can't be there every day, but I can do it when it's my watch, and right now my watch is Tuesdays and Fridays."

Trapp has adopted Eugene J. Butler Middle School and visits there every Tuesday and Friday, spending time and sharing his life with the kids there. This isn't the first time Trapp has gotten involved in the community. When he was in Baltimore playing for the Ravens, he earned the NFL's Extra Effort Award for his outstanding and continuous effort to improving the quality of life in the Baltimore community.

"I had a lot of teachers and a lot of coaches who have helped me out along the way," Trapp said. "James Colbert, one of my coaches in high school, took me in when I decided to stay in Oklahoma when my mom was stationed in Germany. He said that the hand is always out to help you up, but it's up to you to pull yourself up. And once you get up you put your hand down to help the next person get up. That's a philosophy that he lived by and I have adopted that as well."

Trapp's selection for the Extra Effort Award was based on his involvement with Aunt Hattie's Place and Booker T. Washington Middle School in Baltimore. Aunt Hattie's Place is a Baltimore-based foster home for African-American boys. Trapp spent time at the home hanging out with the boys and donated tickets to all the Ravens home games so the boys could come watch him play. He established an incentive program awarding tickets and Ravens souvenirs to the students at Booker T. who excelled in his L.O.R.D.S. program, which taught kids the value of leadership, order, respect, direction and success.

"Everyone has dreams," Trapp said. "You have to go out there and work for them. I had a lot of dreams, I worked hard and I accomplished a lot of them, and that's one of the main reasons why I give back. Being out in the community gives me the chance to tell people that if they work hard and believe in themselves, there is nothing they can't accomplish."

What Trapp likes most about visiting kids in the community is seeing parts of Jacksonville that he's never seen before.

"When I go out and visit these schools, I get to see a part of Jacksonville that I have never seen before and meet people that I probably would have never met," Trapp said. "I love that. Instead of me just coming to the stadium for practice and then going home, I get to go out and see a part of town that I would otherwise never see."

Trapp's work in the community has not gone unnoticed among his teammates. More than 75 percent of the Jaguars have participated in community programs so far this year. Jaguars community relations coordinator Phil Senich says Trapp has had a tremendous impact on the Jaguars locker room in a short period of time.

"James Trapp is one of those take-charge guys in the locker room," Senich said. "If he's going to visit a school or hospital, he will look around the locker room and grab a couple of young players to take with him. He's had a real positive influence on the team, especially with the younger players. We have more guys coming up to us asking what they can do in the community this year than I can ever remember."

Trapp knows one of the reasons he was brought to Jacksonville by head coach Jack Del Rio and vice president of player personnel James Harris was to be a veteran leader and teacher in the locker room. He doesn't believe the best method is to force the issue, but rather let it happen on its own.

"I would love to grab a couple of guys by the throat and say, "Come on, let's go watch some film. But you can't do that," Trapp said. "You have to ease guys into it. Some guys have a learning scale that they have themselves on, so you have to let guys kind of grow into you instead of resenting you. It's tough, because I don't think this team watches enough film. I would love to see a bunch of guys get together and watch film."

Trapp could have hung up the cleats and retired after 10 good years in the NFL, but after praying about the situation he felt God wanted him to play another year here in Jacksonville.

"I prayed about it, and I felt that God wanted me here. I believe in the system that's being put in place here in Jacksonville. It's going to take some time, but by the end of this year and next year it's going to be smooth sailing," Trapp said.

Even though the Jaguars have gotten off to a slow start, Trapp believes it's just a matter of time before all of the team's hard work starts paying off.

"This year is like a rough draft to a term paper right now," Trapp said. "We're just trying to get everything out down on paper. Guys are learning as they're seeing it. Will we come closer to the final draft by the end of the year? I don't know, but I hope so. You can see it slowly coming together."

Trapp is not used to anything starting slowly, considering he was once considered the NFL's Fastest Man. He won the title in 1995 and tied for second in 1996 and '97, but he feels his title is a little tainted.

"The big boys wouldn't race me," he said. "I couldn't get Rocket Ismail, Deion Sanders or Darrell Green to come out and race me. I would call them up and try to get them to come out and challenge me, but Darrell always said no and Deion would say, 'Why should I? I'm already considered the fastest man.' I finally got Herschel Walker out and I busted him up. I would have worn out all of those guys."

It's hard to argue with Trapp, since he did compete on a record-breaking 4x100 relay team in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

"The Olympics was a great experience that I would love to do again. I left the Olympics on a sour note because of some pettiness on my part. I didn't get to cherish the moment of a record-breaking team that I was a part of. If I could redo that all over again, I would, but overall it was a great experience," Trapp said.

Trapp has performed mainly as the Jaguars nickel back so far this season. He injured his ankle in the second preseason game, missing the first two regular-season games, and hasn't been one hundred percent since then. But that hasn't stopped him from going all out every Sunday.

"Losing hurts. I'm not going to lie, losing on Sundays hurts," Trapp said. "But I like to have fun and give it everything I've got no matter the circumstances. That's who I am. I'm not going to be a quiet, reserved guy. I'm going to bring to the table everything I've got."

When Trapp's football days are over, he would love to exchange his helmet for a headset.

"If circumstances present themselves in the proper manner, I would love to get into coaching. The desire is definitely there," Trapp said. "I enjoy this game and I enjoy getting the concepts of this game across to people. So coaching is somewhere in future. I'm just letting the Lord lead me and enjoying the game every day."

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