`Twas the Night Before The Draft

And all across the country, draft-hopefuls are restlessly stirring

April 27, 2007

By Brian Jones

Special to CSTV.com



Brian Jones is a football analyst for CSTV and CSTV.com.
E-mail here!

On this NFL Draft-eve, I cannot help but reminisce about the excruciating hours I endured before being taken in the eighth round of the 1991 draft. I was the leading tackler for the Texas Longhorns for the past two years on a team that was ranked as high as third in the nation, all that leading up to a disastrous Cotton Bowl in which my side lost to Miami by something like 46-3. I've tried to forget the score.


Although I had a terrible performance at the NFL combine, I was sure that what I had accomplished enough on the field to endear me to the NFL suitors. NFL guru Mel Kiper Jr. had me ranked as the No. 2 middle linebacker in the draft, but being ranked No. 2 doesn't mean a damn thing.


To compound my problems, I proceeded to pull a hamstring during our Pro Day while attempting to run 40 yards in unseasonably freezing spring weather in Austin, Texas. I was also hampered by my bench press, a measly 18 or 19 reps of 220. I must confess to something we athletes don't often do - I was still recovering from a significant neck stinger from the first play of the first game of the '90 season. Honestly, though, I didn't take the combine or the Pro Day that seriously. What you do on Saturday afternoons should suffice, right?






I decided to go to my hometown in Lubbock, Texas, for the Draft and be with family. You know, go back to were it all began on the sandlots of Chatman Park in my Pop Warner days. We were damn good during my youth football years; we routinely beat the crap out of other ten-, eleven- and twelve-year-olds.


My agent, Carl Poston, felt confident that I would not stay on the board past the third round. But we were horribly mistaken; our assessments of the draft were totally off.


I had an inclination that things would not be going my way on Draft day and made a visit to church that Sunday to inject some spiritual intervention into the process. The Lord usually shows up and shows out, but I guess it wasn't meant to be that Sunday. To make a painful story short, I was drafted in the eighth round by the Los Angeles Raiders. You know what that means - I wasn't taken until the second day.


You can't imagine the anxiety I experienced that day and night. I had no clue what my future held, I had yet to graduate and up to that point had paid no attention to "Plan B." So it goes without saying that I had a difficult time sleeping that night and was not at all concerned with, or looking forward, to the second day of the Draft. In my mind, my career was over and out.


The next day, I decided not to sit by the phone as I had done the day before. Instead, I proceeded to get drunk with my childhood buddies. All I can recall from that day is that for hours, my family attempted to reach me to inform me that the Raiders had decided to draft me in the eighth round.  I can't tell you how wide the grin was on my inebriated face when I finally talked to then-head coach Art Shell. I'm grinning like a Cheshire cat as I think back on that moment.


This is a great moment in the lives of the young draft-hopefuls and their families. I hope that they enjoy it for what it is, an opportunity to continue their career in a great sport that allows you to knock someone out and not be arrested.


At the same time, there are others out there this weekend that will have to deal with disappointment, but hopefully they will endure and ultimately end up with a tumultuous NFL career and a great gig at CSTV. The CSTV part after I retire, of course. Wouldn't want some former NFL stud taking my gig.