My draft experience was pretty unusual for a lot of reasons. I never heard from the team that actually drafted me and I had to wait almost an hour after I was picked to find out where I was actually going to play.
The top part of the draft was so up in the air that year. It was pretty clear Eli Manning was going to go first, but you didn’t know to who. I really didn’t know where I might land. I thought San Diego was a possibility, but with the trade scenarios and all that, I just didn’t know how it was all going to work out.
I had such a great experience at the Senior Bowl with the Chargers and the staff. It was like I’d already played for the Chargers for five days, practicing with the coaches and hearing their terminology. I had a dinner in Raleigh with Dean Spanos and A.J. Smith that was a great experience. It was casual but it was a chance to get to know the Chargers. I knew they had interest.
I got invited to go to New York with a few of the other top guys, but I decided it fit me better to stay in Raleigh to watch the draft. We were gathered around the TV at my parents’ house with my wife, my daughter and my brother and sister.
I think the weirdest part of my experience was that you grow up watching the draft and guys always get the phone call right before they’re drafted. Everybody knows before they hear it on TV. I never got a call and I never heard from the Giants at all. That let me know something was up. My agent told me that it wasn’t guaranteed that a trade would get worked out but the Chargers were trying to get it done.
I had a neighbor who was a huge Giants fan and he started going crazy when they picked me. He brought a Lawrence Taylor jersey over and I signed it. That might be the only Giants item that I signed.
When the Giants took me, I was kind of like, “Is this real?” I had to do an interview with ESPN and Suzy Kolber asked me how it felt to be a New York Giant. In my mind I’m saying, “I’m probably not going to be a Giant,” but I had to give the team the respect in case I did end up playing there.
For about 45 minutes, I knew they were trying to do something and finally the Chargers called with the news. They worked out the deal, and everything worked out great for me.