TAMPA – It probably didn’t seem like it at the time, but that DUI arrest that wound up getting him kicked off the team may have been the best thing that ever happened to former Buccaneers tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Jenkins told Rich Cimini of ESPN this week that the DUI arrest and its fallout prompted him to get help for a drinking problem that he knew he had but was “scared and embarrassed to tell people’’ he had.
Seferian-Jenkins, who was signed by the Jets shortly after he was let go in Tampa, said he was not dependent on alcohol but came to realize during treatment that he used to cope with other issues that he refused to divulge.
As of Wednesday, Seferian-Jenkins said he had gone 129 days without alcohol and added that it has transformed his life, though he admits he’s still just trying to win each day.
“It really has changed my life,’’ Seferian-Jenkins said. “I just try to win one day at a time. I’ve won 129 days and I’m going to continue to win however many more days. It’s a blessing.’’
Seferian-Jenkins said he “graduated’’ just last week from his outpatient program for which he received a commemorative coin. He said he spent 14 hours a week in the program and will continue attending weekly sessions.
Seferian-Jenkins was a second-round draft pick of the Bucs in 2014 who, at least in Tampa Bay, always seemed to have a knack for making the worst mistake at the worst possible time.
The first hint, though, that his problems ran deeper than just a lack of maturity on the field came around this time last year when he was kicked off the practice field during OTAs.
Coach Dirk Koetter said Seferian-Jenkins “didn’t know what he was doing,’’ but it was speculated that the problem was something other than just not knowing the play.
Seferian-Jenkins later referred to that incident as blessing, too, telling reporters a few months later that he “thanked God every single day’’ for being kicked out of practice because “It was really a wake-up call.’’
It turns out that the real wake-up call didn’t come until Seferian-Jenkins got kicked off the team for the DUI charge, which was changed to a reckless driving charge through a plea agreement.