From an overall national perspective, one might think that the Super Bowl is the NFL’s coming out party. But to the NFL (and its die-hard fanatics) the big dance is really the NFL draft. It is officially known as the NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting, and it is football’s answer to the Academy Awards. Moves are made, teams are built, and dreams are realized. Seemingly with one phone call.
Quite simply, lives change. And, yeah, money’s got a lot to do with it. But it’s more than that. Imagine if your heart’s – no, life’s – desire was to do a particular thing, something that less than 1% of the American population got to experience. And imagine if you were chosen. There is a tremendous amount of passion here. And responsibility. And expectation. And, of course, pressure.
Scott was selected by the Detroit Lions in the fifth round of the 1991 NFL draft. He was 118th out of a total of 334 players drafted that year. He went on to experience a six-year career in the NFL, playing exclusively for the Detroit Lions and blocking for Hall of fame Running back Barry Sanders.
Ordinarily, I would write this post from my perspective, but I wasn’t married to Scott when he was drafted – hell, I wasn’t even legal then. (I did attend two Lions football games during his career, though, and little did I know that I was watching my future husband in action.) So I thought it’d be fun for me to do a Q&A so that you can hear (er– read) everything straight from the horse’s mouth. Oh, and here’s even more info: While Scott is actually the first member of his family to make it to the NFL, he wasn’t the last. His first cousin, Frank Conover, was also drafted to the NFL (Cleveland Browns)…in the eighth round of the very same draft! More on that in a minute…
1. In the countless conversations we’ve had about the NFL draft, you say that you didn’t expect to be drafted. But you had to have had some idea that this was coming…
No, I really didn’t. You can’t assume anything. I did have an agent, and I worked out at the NFL Combine – and I also completed a work-out in front of 18-20 teams. But you never know.
2. Briefly explain the NFL Combine.
It’s like an audition that’s sponsored by the NFL and held a few months before the draft. Only 1,500 players total are invited to attend.
3. Most people first became aware of sports agents through the film Jerry McGuire, but can you further explain the role an agent plays in the draft? Also, how did you find your agent?
My agent found me, so I didn’t have to look for one. An agent showcases a player in the same way that an agent would help actors, models, and writers get work. They get your resume in front NFL team scouts and coaches.
4. Take me back to the day of the draft. What did you do? What was going through your head?
I sat in the living room with my family and friends, uncertain and anxious, and watched the draft in real time on television. My agent informed me that the Cleveland Browns had the first pick in the second round of the draft, and they were eying me and two other players. That’s when I got my hopes up. Even though that didn’t materialize, I remained hopeful because my agent told me that the way the draft was shaking out, I could expect to be drafted between the third and fifth rounds. So I detached myself from the draft until the third round. But because the 1991 draft was running so long, it ended for the day at the end of the third round. And I still wasn’t drafted.
5. And what happened then?
I got up that morning because I had to get ready to catch a flight back to Purdue University (in Indiana). I was sitting at the kitchen table, eating a bowl of cereal when the phone rang. I wasn’t even thinking that the call could be for me – it caught me completely off guard. At this point in the draft, it was no longer televised. I was still half asleep. My mom hands me the phone, and it was a coach from the Detroit Lions.
6. How did that conversation go?
He introduced himself and told me that they had the seventh pick in the fifth round and they were going to make me their selection. Then they put me on hold for a couple of minutes. When they returned, they informed me that they had made it official and welcomed me to the Detroit Lions family.
7. Your life changed with that phone call. When did it all sink in?
It really sank in when I flew out to the Lions training facility the next week to participate in mini-camp. They picked me up in a limo and drove me to the Pontiac Silverdome, where the Lions practiced and played at the time. Head coach Wayne Fontes and his staff greeted me at the door. And then I went into the locker room to find a locker with my name on it. I thought to myself, Damn. This is real.
8. How cool was it to have your closest cousin play in the NFL with you? How did you guys keep from being too competitive with each other?
It was easy: We played two different positions, in different NFL conferences, and never actually played against each other.
9. As an NFL veteran who has gone through this process before, what would you tell members of this year’s draft class?
This is only the beginning. You have to work hard to win a spot on your team. Being drafted doesn’t guarantee anything – only an opportunity. Good luck.
10. Football has been very kind to you, but in a lot of ways, it has also been cruel: I know your body aches…A LOT. Would you do it all again?
The NFL draft began last night at 8 p.m. on the NFL Network and ends tomorrow, May 10. Scott spent last night watching the draft at a private party at Detroit’s GEM theater, which is a stone’s throw away from Ford Field, the home of the Detroit Lions. The party was hosted by the Detroit Lions and Bud Light and thrown for Detroit Lions club seat members, long-term suite holders, and corporate partners, so, of course, both current and former Detroit Lions players were in attendance. Here are some photos from last night, but please keep in mind that I had no part in taking these photos because while Scott was whooping it up, eating good food, and drinking even better drinks, I was at home with the kids taking one for the team:
On the blue carpet: (You wouldn’t expect the event to have a red carpet when the team colors are Honolulu blue and silver, right?) Here’s Rory, the Lion’s mascot, with ESPN First Take analyst Lomas Brown, a former teammate of Scott’s who played eleven seasons with the Lions before retiring as a player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he won a Super Bowl Ring:
In the thick of it: When everybody was wondering what would become of Johnny Football, who is pictured here on the big screen:
The boys are back in town: Here's Scott with a few of his former teammates, many of whom flew in just for the party. (From left): Robert Porcher, Bennie Blades, Luther Elliss, Larry Lee, George Jamison, Lomas Brown, Kevin Glover, and Scott.
And, finally, my consolation prize for holding down the fort last night, for making chicken fingers and homemade applesauce, and surviving “bathy time” with a rambunctious two year-old and a teething infant: This limited edition Bud Light 2014 NFL Draft baseball cap, which, trust me, I will be rocking for the next day or so until I can find the time to give myself a proper blow-out:
...that is, if I can pry it off of Kennedy's head first. (Scotty's not into caps.) This is her playing dress up this morning at Daddy's urging:
If you have any questions about the draft – or Scott’s experience with the draft – please post them in the comment section below and I’ll reply with his unfiltered response.
* VOTE * VOTE * VOTE * VOTE * VOTE * VOTE * VOTE * VOTE *