Friday, May 9, 2014

The Day My Husband Was Drafted into the NFL

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?
Yes. Absolutely.

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:

The outside:   


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.


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32 comments:

  1. Very interesting! My day to day life does not include anything remotely like this -- I barely *watch* sports... I had no idea about the process. :)

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    1. Hi, Dakota! Thank you for commenting! And while we are, of course, huge fans of the game of football in these parts, I must admit: Our day to day life isn't like this, either. Although when these events do arise, they never lose their luster and are always fun.

      Scott and I have two big NFL dinners coming up soon, and I'll be posting about those as well. #ParentsNightOut

      Thank you so much for reading, and HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

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  2. What a cool process! Loved that you interviewed your hubby and how cool that you were at a couple of his games not realizing your paths word cross again!

    Have a fantabulously beautiful Mother's Day, Courtney!

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    1. Thank you, Susie! Yeah, I do look back on when I attended Lions games while in high school, all the while not knowing what lie ahead...Not to mention that my grandfather was a season ticket holder and spent virtually every Thanksgiving Day afternoon at the Pontiac Silverdome watching The Lions play...

      Happy Mother's Day to you, too, Susie, and thank you for commenting! <3

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  3. It was very interesting to read about the draft from the player's point of view. Thanks for sharing with us.

    Sean at His and Her Hobbies

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    1. You're welcome, Sean. Thank YOU for visiting and commenting.

      Enjoy your weekend.

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  4. What a great read! Love to see Scott's point of view when it comes to football. I'm so clueless! Thanks so much Courtney for doing your football series and giving me a deep understanding of football.

    Enjoy your Mother's Day Weekend!!!!!

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Louida! I find it fascinating, but, eh, I'm biased, I know. lol

      I simply want to share some of the things that often aren't discussed when it comes to professional football.

      It means a lot that you read.

      Again, Happy Mother's Day to you and your girls. <3

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  5. great post...interesting to see it from a football players POV...what a cutie in her daddy's hat. Happy Saturday Sharefest

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    1. Hi, Karen, and thank you for visiting and commenting...

      You wouldn't believe all the football stories Scott has told me through the years -- about what it's like to play in -40 below temps, or, say, what it's like to board a private plane to fly to games each week...there are so many stories! And I never get tired of them.

      Thank you, also, for your kind words about our daughter, Kennedy. (She is SUCH a daddy's girl.)

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  6. Sounds like a fun experience. Being married to someone who has a unique skill makes life pretty interesting. My ex was a jazz musician and some of the wonderful experiences we shared are things I never blog about. You just gave me a great idea! Stopping by from the SITS Saturday link up. Http://www.LivingHappierAfter.com

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    1. Hi, there! Oh my God, I was just saying to Scott the other day that the whole reason I do my NFL series is to give others a glimpse inside what a former (and sometimes current) NFL player goes through...

      Remember that show "Deadliest Catch"? Well, I've never been fishing.I eat fish, but don't fish. However, I said to my husband, that if, say, a fisherman did a blog post on what it's like to fend off sharks, I would find it interesting. You know? There's just something about hearing something firsthand...

      You should totally do a jazz-themed post!! I'd read. In fact, let me know when you do!!!

      Thank you for commenting. :-)

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  7. Nice post and very nice consolation prize! I've been engulfed in the draft for the last 2 days lol my friends think I'm weird...I watch everything combine included. I mean hey I have to see what kind of player my team is getting right! Oh and I called it last week I said we (meaning The Patriots) are going to draft Dominque Easley and we did.

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    1. Cookie, you are my girl on so many levels!!! <3

      I find the combine extremely interesting to watch, too...

      Hey, what did you think of how Willie McGinest got booed last night when he announced your team's next pick? JUST for being a Patriot? He was taunting the crowd, yes, but I do think the booing was totally uncalled for.

      Thank you for commenting! xo

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  8. We are crazy football fans (my husband is a Lions fan and I'm a Browns fan), so this was very cool to read! Thanks for sharing! I'm stopping by from the Sits Sharefest:)

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    1. Hi, Krissy! Thank you for sharing your comments -- we always love to hear from other fans of the game. (And special shout out to your hubs for supporting the Honolulu Blue! lol)

      I'll have a few more Lions-themed posts coming up, as Scott and I are attending two major NFL events this week...

      I appreciate your comments! :-)

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  9. Great story. What a wonderful and high stressed time. I can't imagine auditioning, and not finding out but from a phone call many months later on a particular day. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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    1. Hi, April! Yeah, you can say that again: the suspense of not knowing your fate until everything plays out would be enough to turn me into a bundle of nerves.

      Thank you for commenting, and Happiest Mother's Day!! xo

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  10. Thanks for sharing! It was fun to hear a behind the scenes take on the draft!

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    1. You're totally welcome, Julie! I appreciate you taking the time to read -- alone comment. Thank you. <3

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  11. Thanks so much for sharing your husband's experiences. I can't imagine waiting to hear such big news. Enjoy the cap! :)

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    1. Hey, Lexa! Would you believe? The cap is on as I type this! I need to get crackin' on the blowout, though, because Scott is taking my mom, the kids, and me to a nice Mother's Day brunch tomorrow, and somehow I don't think a Bud Light cap is acceptable attire. lol

      And with regard to hearing such big news...I can't even begin to imagine that, either! I mean, the euphoria we would feel...and the rush!

      Enjoy your weekend, Lexa. (What's the weather like there, by the way?)

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  12. So interesting! I guess there are people who get drafted who don't see playing time from what you said, even though it seems to us like they have made it once they get drafted. I can just see him there eating cereal - can I ask what kind of cereal? Such a cute picture of Kennedy!

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    1. Honestly? And this sounds so cliche, which may or may not be why this was (unintentionally) omitted from this interview: He was eating Wheaties.

      Thank you for the compliment about K, I can already see she's a fan of dress up -- and all we had here was a hat and badge. She didn't want to take them off!

      Oh, dear. What are we in for...

      Happiest Mother's Day, Susan! (And Momina!)

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  13. I loved this story Courtney - it's so interesting that he wasn't at the draft. Next time interview him on camera...I would have loved to have heard him telling his story. I find this fascinating...I know I'm a sports nerd!

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    1. Thanks, Kristen. Funny, Scott and I were discussing him making an appearance on video in the future (you'll understand why, later...)

      Scott actually was offered an opportunity to attend the draft -- which was still at the Marriott in Times Square back then -- he just preferred to have been at home with his family, which, if you get to know Scott, you will understand is much more his speed. The prospect of being around all the hoopla was actually a deterrent for him...

      Happy Mother's Day...from one sports nerd to another! <3

      xoxo

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  14. This was a cool read, and for some reason I found myself getting all weepy at the phone call part ;) I am so not a football person but I really loved this post!

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    1. Hi, Jenny! Nice to hear from you...and happiest Mother's Day! Thank you so, so much for your kind words -- that you are NOT a football person means even more...

      And speaking of feeling emotion, your posts always strike a chord with me -- and in the best possible way.

      Your comment means a lot. Thank you.

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  15. This is great, Courtney! Loved it. I was just talking to my husband this weekend about the draft and asking him how it all comes together. I have always wondered who the players were talking to on the phone while their name is being announced. So nice to hear it from the perspective of someone who has been through it. I went to one Lions game before I moved from Detroit in 2007. My BFF there is a season ticket holder.

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    1. Thanks so much, Kimberly! I'm glad your liked the post, as I was inspired to do it for the very reasons you mentioned: Unless you've talked to someone who has gone through the draft personally, then one may never know what goes on behind the scenes.

      Do you have plans to come back to Detroit anytime soon? If so, maybe we can do lunch or something!

      Thanks for commenting...and Happy Belated Mother's Day!

      And GO LIONS!!!

      xo

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    2. I've been wanting to get back to Detroit for a visit but not sure when. Will reach out to you if I plan something. Happy Belated Mother's Day to you too!

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