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Friday, May 6, 2016

Draft no party for anxious families

Friday, April 29, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) -- The hard part of the NFL draft takes place out of sight of all the cameras and fans. Backstage in the green room, everyone's at the mercy of the teams drafting.

It's a night-long wait for the phone to ring.

Anita Kerrigan has watched her son, Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, in plenty of big moments during his college career. But during a game, he could always affect the outcome.

Not on Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall.

"I was more nervous with this, I guess because I had not been through it before," Anita Kerrigan said. "You don't have any control over it. He doesn't have any control over it."

The Kerrigans had to wait until the Washington Redskins took Kerrigan at No. 16 overall.

No one had an easy night of it. LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, one of the best players in the draft, said he was full of angst all day. He had to wait until the fifth pick for the phone to ring, then looked to see a familiar Arizona area code.

"It felt like something just burst wide open in my stomach," Peterson said after he was chosen by the Cardinals.

Not even the biggest and toughest players were immune to nerves.

Auburn star Nick Fairley said he was glad to have his family with him. To fans and opposing teams, he's the sun-blotting defensive tackle, but he's something else to his family.

"We was talking about that just the other day," said his sister, Greta King, who flew to New York from Mobile, Ala., for the draft. "You're not just Nick anymore. To a lot of other people, you're bigger than to us. To us, he's still just Nick."

Wisconsin defensive tackle J.J. Watt kept himself grounded, too. He brought two of his high school coaches from Pewaukee, Wis., to New York, and they watched the Houston Texans pick him with the 11th overall selection.

Before Watt walked on at Wisconsin, he was a tight end at Central Michigan. In between, he had to work at Pizza Hut. In those days, the closest he got to the Super Bowl was working a shift in the restaurant the night of the big game, feeding fans and clearing dirty dishes.

"You make very good tips working Super Bowl Sunday," Watt said.

Watt's former head coach and defensive coordinator at Pewaukee High School aren't surprised by his achievements.

"The more success he had, the more humble and hungry he becomes. He's afraid of losing that edge," coach Clay Iverson said. "We're lucky. We meet great football players all the time.

"But you don't meet good people like that. And his family, too."

Defensive coordinator Mike Lecher actually coached Watt's father and uncle.

"A lot of it came from the dad," Lecher said backstage at Radio City. "They're just loyal Pewaukee people.

"They believe in strong work ethic, hard work. ... They got strong family values. And brought him up the right way. Didn't spoil the kids."

Iverson interjected: "They're old school."



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