The spring of '79 was suppose to be a season of great anticipation for me. It was, but for reasons different than I had anticipated.
For most of my life, I had dreamed of becoming an NFL player and winning a Super Bowl. April '79 should have been an exciting time if those dreams were to be realized. Just after turning 22, I thought I would be focused on trying to play football at the next level.
It was a thought process that for so long was dominated with dreams and fantasies that a lot of boys have regarding sports. We are always the one who scores the touchdown, hit the home run, knock down a desparation 3, or score the goal, that wins a big game.
The reality was, there was plenty of excitment and anticipation for me in the spring of 1979, but for different career path. Graduation from the Naval Academy was about a month away and I was preparing to head to Pensacola for flight training. The freedom that awaited me in a few short days, after four years of constant pressure, was enough to dampen the dream of playing in the NFL. It was almost euphoric.
In fact, I was resolved to the realization that my playing days were over after the Holiday Bowl. I was looking at at least 5 years in the Navy and becoming a pilot was the next challenge. An adventurous life awaited me, and my football lust had been extinguished. Or so I thought.
The draft was always something I paid close attention to, especially that year. Although I was content in my life's direction at the time, it was still normal to wonder where I would have been drafted, if at all. I 'll never forget the beautiful spring morning in Annapolis, Baltimore Sun sports page in hand, as I headed to class. This class was a little different, it was aboard a Yard Patrol Craft, a mini destroyer where we learned how to 'drive' and navigate on the Severn river. In the Navy, even aviators have to be proficient in seamanship.
On board, I had a few moments to study the twelve round draft (there was no ESPN, so we got the results the old fashion way, in print). I paid particular attention to where guys I played against landed. Also, I played in the Japan Bowl and was interested in where some of those guys went:
Tom Cousineu, first player picked-Bills
Joe Montana, 3rd round-49'ers
Matt Bahr, 6th round-Steelers
Drew Hill, 12th round-Falcs
I didn't realize it at the time, but there were a few guys in that draft that would become future team mates of mine, including Phil Simms #7 overall, and Ottis Anderson #8 overall.
Looking back, I had no idea what the future would hold for me and never dreamed I would end up playing in a Super Bowl with both of those guys.