At 53 years of age, you would think some things would become old hat by now, but I have to admit that I am excited once again for the first round of the draft. It brings back so many memories of my draft day. I was in my college apartment with my family, my agent, a girl that I really didn't want there, and several members of the media. My phone tapped to record "THE CALL." The day that should have been one of the greatest of my life turned into a three-ring circus.
The Bengals had the 10th pick in the draft and I knew they were interested in me. As my pulse doubled, the Bengals submitted their pick with the name David Verser on it. Verser was a wide receiver from Kansas. My agent then announced to the room how happy he was that the Bengals DIDN'T pick me. Cincinnati was a horrible city, the team was terrible, and Mike Brown was the cheapest owner in the league.
The draft moved at at a snail's pace as team after team passed on me. But, I wasn't worried because I knew that the Cowboys and Raiders both promised to draft me at the end of the first round. Of course that didn't happen either, so now I started to get mad. Early in the second round, I watched as the Jets fans were booing the Jets pick. The next pick was the Giants and they were asking the nuts in the crowd about who the Giants should pick, and they were all saying the Giants had to pick defense. If the Giants picked offense their was going to be a revolution. Just then my phone rang, "hello Cris? This is so-and-so from the New York Giants. We are going to draft you with our next pick. What do you think?" I said, "well, I'm excited to get drafted, but I don't think the fans are going to like it much." So after another five minutes of chit-chat the guy on the phone said, "Cris, this is Alex Hewko.....Gotcha!!!!!!" Alex was a teammate of mine at Florida and former friend. I tried to laugh it off, but I was ready to explode. Back to watching my name not being called on television.
Finally, for the first time since the Bengals first pick I relaxed because it was the Bengals second round pick and they had already taken a receiver in the first round. No way were they going to pick another receiver. Just then the guy on TV says "with their 2nd round pick, the Cincinnati Bengals select wide receiver Cris Collinsworth from Florida." On cue, the phone rings and my mother jumps off the coach crying remembering what my agent said about how horrible Cincinnati was. So, I'm going to a bad NFL team, that not only has Isaac Curtis, but a first round receiver playing in front of me, and now my Mother is having a melt-down. Greatest day of my life? The only person happy in the room is the girl that I didn't want to be there in the first place.
Things obviously got better from there. I won the starting job, we went to the Super Bowl, and I made the Pro Bowl my rookie year. But, Draft Day 1981 was a circus, and I was the clown.