Jessie Willard Armstead (born October 26, 1970 in Dallas, Texas) is a former American football linebacker in the National Football League who played for eleven seasons with the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins between 1993 and 2003.
Armstead attended David W. Carter High School in Dallas, Texas, where he was coached by Freddie James. Armstead was part of a highly talented team that featured four other future NFL players — Clifton Abraham, Joe Burch, Le’Shai Maston, Darius Smith — and won the 1988 5A state championship (however, the title was later forfeited due to eligibility infringements).
High school career
Armstead was considered the top high school football talent in Texas as well as nationwide by recruiting analysts. He had been an All-American since his sophomore year, and at that time was the only player to be selected as an All-American three years in high school.
Fellow D-I recruits Derric Evans and Gary Edwards asked Armstead to join them and others in a series of robberies of video stores and fast-food restaurants, but he refused. In September 1989, Evans and Edwards were sentenced to 20 years and 16 years, respectively, in prison.
Recruited by Jimmy Johnson, Armstead chose to attend the University of Miami. However, weeks later, Johnson left Miami to take over as the head coach of theDallas Cowboys. After initial reports that Armstead might seek to be released from his commitment to Miami, since the coach who recruited him to play there had departed, Armstead chose to honor his commitment after Dennis Erickson was named head coach.
A college standout on Miami’s 2 national championships (1989, 1991), Armstead’s pro prospects were diminished after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament his sophomore season. As a result, he was not drafted until the eighth round of the 1993 NFL Draft, when he was selected by the New York Giants.
Following a nine-year career with the Giants, he was signed to a three-year, $4.5 million deal by the Washington Redskins, where he played for two additional seasons.
He signed with the Carolina Panthers for the 2004 season, but he retired that year following a pre-season injury.
On June 13, 2007, Armstead signed a one day contract with the New York Giants to officially retire a New York Giant.
On September 8, 2008, Armstead was hired by the Giants as a “special assistant/consultant”. His responsibilities include special projects, defensive assignments, player development and free agent recruiting.
Film and TV career