My NFL Draft Day

I never expected to be that guy who would have a draft night party. I never fantasized that I’d be sitting in Radio City Music Hall surrounded by cameras, while Mel Kiper chatted with Boomer on ESPN about how I was the best player available and how the #Jets latest draft blunder. The fact is, I wasn’t highly recruited out of high school and I played my college ball in a conference known for its academics, not its athletics. I wasn’t even the best player on the Brown Bears when we won the Ivy League Championship in 2008. I’ve always had confidence in my ability, but it seemed that confidence was only shared by a small circle of family, friends, and coaches.

But in April 2009, there we were, the Cloherty Clan and friends, at my borther Tyler’s basement apartment in Boston watching round after mind-numbing round, hoping for that magic moment when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would stride to the podium and say, “with the X pick in X round, the Washington Redskins select Colin Cloherty, Tight End, Brown University.” (Cue the wild applause from Redskins fans while my agent and I channel House of Pain and Jump Around.

After months of working and waiting, the had finally arrived. The 2009 NFL Draft began on April 25th. Roger Goodell announce that the Lions drafted Matt Stafford and a slew of other first rounders that you know and love or you wish you could forget.Most of these collegiate studs are in crisp new suits sitting and about to sign contracts with millions guaranteed. Must be nice.

(Roger Goodell with Matt “I didn’t play beer pong on my Draft Day” Stafford)

I was sitting at a friend’s house at Brown, trying in vain to focus on anything but the. Running conversations touched on who went where and what that might mean for me or the upcoming season. Everyone cracked open a beer and discussed how their team got better. Remember the draft used to be two days. Rounds 1–3 on Saturday and Rounds 4–7 on Sunday. I couldn’t wait for day two.

Sunday, I woke up early and drove to my brother’s apartment. My parents flew up and met me there. I also had some friends from Brown come up to celebrate after I got draft. It was a little party. Chips and Dip. Music. Even a beer pong set up out back. The back up anchors ESPN anchors (its day two remember) announced pick after pick while I waited.

“The Redskins are going to call any minute now” I kept telling myself. Over the past few weeks, Skins Tight Ends coach Scott Wachenheim called me a few times and told me to “be ready” Sunday afternoon and to “stay close to my phone” during the late rounds. They had a couple back up phone numbers in case they couldn’t reach my cell phone — I still had a flip phone. The iFlip (© Moss). I grew up as a Skins fan and had an autographed Art Monk picture in my bedroom right next to a faux-Redskins locker. I wore my #47 Chris Cooley jerseys on Sundays while they were usually losing.

(Cooley sporting some Daisy Dukes)

Cooley was my favorite player not just because he was one of the main offensive targets for the Burgundy and Gold, but because I modeled my game after his. Now I had a change to learn from him up close and emulate the Pro Bowler. But back to the party.

Those unfamiliar with the draft (or my prospects) were starting to wonder if I was going to get drafted at all. For that matter, so did I. Maybe I shouldn’t have had the stupid effing party anyway. What a mistake. This will be pretty embarrassing. I ate too many chips and can’t stand listening to one more person get picked ahead of me. I’m getting too wound up.

Time for beer pong. After a couple games I forgot all about the draft and relaxed. Never say mindless competitive drinking games never helped anyone. I seriously doubt Matt Stafford was throwing balls in cups on his draft day. Periodically, I check in on the draft. Nothing seemed to be happening. I talked to my agent, Brooks Henderson, and he didn’t have a whole lot of information for me. Instead of playing the waiting game, I went back to playing the drinking game.

“With the 13th pick in the 7th Round, the Washington Redskins select: Eddie Williams, Tight End, Idaho State.”

I was crushed. Immediately, I knew that the Redskins drafted the 6 foot 2, 240 pound Williams instead of me. Plus, what a buzz kill at the party. We all sat around with out much talking. Everyone knew, or was figuring out pretty quickly, that my prospects just turned south. Then Ryan Succop had his name call. Mr. Irrelevant. The draft was over.

I can’t tell you how jealous I was of Succop. He had a chance to make the League. I just sat there, with a group of friends and family who had driven and flown all the way to the party, empty. I got some pats on the back — “its amazing that you even had a change to get drafted” — “you should be proud for making it this far.” They were trying to help. I wasn’t ready for the help yet.

My agent called and told me to be ready because that’s when the feeding frenzy starts. In the minutes after the draft ends, every team reaches out to undrafted players and offers them a try out or an undrafted free agent contract. According to Brooks, things could happen pretty fast.

But then didn’t. After five long minutes, Coach Wachenheim popped up on my caller ID. He wanted me to try out next weekend with the Skins at rookie minicamp. I had three days to beat out their draft pick, and if I did I could stick around for training camp. I quickly told my agent about the offer. It was better than nothing, but it was pretty far from a guarantee that I would be on the team for longer than 3 days. They obviously liked him more to begin with if they drafted him. This would be tough sledding. We waited a few more minutes for other teams we talked to before the draft, like the Eagle, Saints, or Cardinals, to call. Ten more minutes passed.

A full 25 minutes after the Redskins called me and 30 minutes after the draft ended, my phone buzzed. I grabbed it off the coffee table and ran into my brother’s bedroom. A three one seven area code.

“Hi this is Colin”

“Hi Colin, this is Ryan Cavanaugh from the Indianapolis Colts. How would you like to catch passes from Peyton Manning?”