The NFL is calling: Draft Day memories from ESPN’s analysts

Sunday Countdown analyst Keyshawn Johnson, seen here with former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, was the first overall draft choice by the New York Jets in the 1996 NFL Draft. (Credit: Getty Images)

What’s it like to be selected to play in the National Football League?

Many college stars will discover the feeling Thursday through Saturday as the 2012 NFL Draft unfolds from Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The event begins Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Some of our analysts who were NFL stars offer their Draft Day memories.

NFL Live analyst Tedy Bruschi, who was picked No. 86 overall (third round) by the New England Patriots in the 1996 NFL Draft: “I was drafted by the ticker, the ESPN Bottom Line. I was in my apartment in Tucson, Arizona. It was the third round, getting late, and the people I was watching with, we were getting exhausted by the process. I walked by the TV and saw my name flashing by the Bottom Line. I looked at everybody in the room and said, ‘I think I just got drafted by the Patriots.’ The phone rang right after I saw it on TV. Bill Parcells called me. He was very short and didn’t have much to say. He said, ‘Tedy, this is Bill Parcells. We’re going to play you at middle linebacker and special teams. Here’s Al Groh.’ Al Groh was the linebacker coach. He got on the phone and he talked to me and told me what their plans were. I hung up and had this look on my face. I was with my brother, my girlfriend at the time — now my wife, and my stepdad. Everybody asked what was wrong because I wasn’t that happy. I said, ‘Well, they drafted me and they want me to play inside linebacker, but I don’t know how to play inside linebacker.’”

ESPN Radio co-host and NFL Live analyst Mike Golic, who was picked No. 255 overall (10th round) by the Houston Oilers in the 1985 NFL Draft: “Because I was drafted in the 10th round, I didn’t get my phone call from the Houston Oilers until about midnight at my dorm room at Notre Dame. Let’s just say at that point, I had already started recovering from my draft day ‘celebration’ so I was already in hangover stage.”

Sunday NFL Countdown analyst Ron Jaworski, who was picked No. 37 overall (second round) in the 1973 NFL Draft: “The Draft was not what it is today. It was in February, back then. On Draft day, I was sitting down with my buddies in the school dorm. There was a pay phone at the end of the hallway. The phone rang and a Lebanese exchange student ran over and picked up the phone. He came down and told me, in broken English, that ‘the Los Angeles Rams were on the phone.’ They (the Rams) told me they wanted me in Los Angeles. In two weeks, I was in Los Angeles to start my professional career.”

Sunday NFL Countdown analyst Keyshawn Johnson, who was picked No. 1 overall by the New York Jets in the 1996 NFL Draft: “I was in New York. I didn’t have to travel to any other city. We did the post-Draft press conference at the Jets facility. After that, I flew straight to Los Angeles where I had a large, large post-Draft party for 2,500 people at the House of Blues with special performance by [rapper] Coolio, who had just won a Grammy. I didn’t even know that many people in my life. A lot of celebrities and players — Snoop Dogg, Tupac, Jonathan Ogden and others — were there.”

NFL Live analyst Marcellus Wiley, who was picked No. 52 overall (second round) by the Buffalo Bills in the 1997 NFL Draft: “I had roller coaster expectations because I was coming from Columbia. So, I was just lucky to even be considered a draft choice. On the other hand, I had Mel Kiper and the New York Times saying I should be a first rounder. So I started to have expectations. I had a party at my house, full of family, friends and CNN. It was a long day. Being the 52nd pick back then, it meant I waited over 10 hours. I actually dozed off and was taking a nap when my dad woke me up and said, “Telephone…it’s the Buffalo Bills.” Pretty sweet!”

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