It’s one of the most exciting days of the year for football fans. And one of the most exciting days of their life for football players. It’s NFL Draft Day!
Colts punter Pat McAfee set the scene in the Colts locker room earlier this week.
“Who knows what’s going to happen. Best player available is coming to the Indianapolis Colts. I’ve been doing my research. We’re excited about what’s going on.”
For quarterback Andrew Luck, the number one pick in 2012, the NFL Draft is a rare opportunity to sit back and watch.
“We’re fans when it comes to the draft. It’s awesome,” he said. “I was fortunate enough to be drafted, but you realize once you get in the locker room, it doesn’t matter where you get picked. It doesn’t matter where you came from. The best player on this team is Robert Mathis from Alabama A&M. One of the greatest defensive ends in the history of the NFL and a middle-round draft pick.”
Tackle Anthony Castonzo remembers every detail of his draft day in 2011.
“At the time, my parents had a restaurant. Back in my hometown, I kind of had like anybody who helped me along the way or anybody who meant enough for me to have there. I had like 80 people there at my parents’ restaurant. I just kind of had a party. It was really cool. It was definitely a once in a lifetime sort of thing.”
And when he got the call from the Colts?
“I actually got the call when I was in the bathroom. So, I kind of sprinted out of the bathroom. I’m like, ‘I’m on the phone with the Colts!’ Everybody was being super loud so they couldn’t hear me. I had so much commotion going that I’m like, ‘Everybody, shut up! Shut up! I can’t hear!’ It was a lot of just craziness.”
Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett says the draft feels like it was yesterday – because for him, it practically was. The Colts’ first round pick in 2015, the thing Dorsett remembers most about that day is the nerves.
“A lot of nerves. I mean, that’s the best way to describe it. You don’t know where you’re going to end up. You have no clue. You know teams that are interested, but you never know where you’re going to end up. I didn’t know I was going to be here.”
He also had a party.
“I’ve got a big family. My family wanted to experience it with me. So, I just said, ‘Ok. I’ll stay home. We’re going to have a party.’ I was nervous because I didn’t know where I was going. I didn’t know when I was going. So, me having a party on that first night was kind of risky. But, it all paid off.”
Guard Hugh Thornton, drafted by the Colts in 2013, also had a draft party. But he didn’t get to enjoy it until after the third round.
“I remember sweating. My dad threw me a draft party out in Boise, Idaho. So, it was day two of the draft. I get through the second round, get to the third round. I mean, I didn’t say a word to anybody. I had my hands right here (around head), phone right in front of me, just waiting for someone to call. And kept getting these weird calls. Answering, ‘Hello?’ Nothing. Then finally, the Colts called me. Coach Gilbert called me up and, ‘Hey, are you ready to be a Colt?’ I saw my name flash across the screen. There were tears coming to my eyes. Just an accumulation of all the hard work and all the trials and tribulations and stuff I’ve been through – just finally worth it.”
And now? He doesn’t even watch.
“Not my day. It’s everybody else’s day. Whoever we draft and whoever we pick up, I’ll meet them in the building.”
Now that he’s a veteran, McAfee doesn’t watch the draft either.
“For me, the draft is a bit different because it probably means that some of my friends are going to lose jobs, to be honest with you. But other than that, I’m excited for whoever we get in. I have a lot of trust and faith that we’re going to bring in some good guys and I’m excited to meet them next week. But other than that, I don’t really pay attention that much.”
In the end, it’s not when a player gets drafted or even if he gets drafted. Luck says the only thing that matters is what happens when he walks in the building.
“Hopefully, we’ll be playing with a bunch of new guys, new eager faces in this locker room ready to help us get where we need to go.”