NFL Draft Nashville

NFL Draft Memories

A Defining Moment

Hundreds of hours at the park playing football with my friends. 3 years of organized flag football. 2 years of Junior Football League in full pads (JFL). 4 years of Pittsburg Pirate Football (Pittsburg CA) as an all league Linebacker and all American. 5 years at the University of Arizona as an all Pac 10 Defensive Lineman and Team MVP. Senior bowl All Star Game... NFL combine (DL #35)...Rated in the top 10 for Defensive ends across the nation. Mel Keiper draft board Top Lineman Available #11...

When I wrote all of this out I had a hard time remembering what the actual feeling was like when I heard my name called in the 2001 NFL Draft. We had a party at my dads house on day #2 of the draft. I kept getting phone calls from different teams. First Cleveland. They had worked me out at school and the coordinator was "trying to convince our guys to take you next." Then the Titans called in round 5 and said "Keep an eye on our next pick." I waited and waited. This was everything I had ever worked for and I could see it slowly slipping away. I was told that my medical file had "Too many red flags" and "your shoulder is a big concern for us" but there was literally nothing I could do so I went to the back room to say a little prayer. 

My house was filled with family and all of the sudden I heard them go crazy. My childhood best friend Shaunard Harts was drafted by the KC Chiefs!!! 

 

Shaunard Harts and Joe Tafoya Pittsburg JV Football TeamShaunard Harts KC - Shaunard Harts Pick # 212 KC Chiefs 

"I remember getting a call from Jacksonville and them telling me they were selecting me at pick 213 and then KC called at 212 and told me to look at the TV screen. I hear the people in their war room chanting "Harts, Harts, Harts". I walked in the bedroom and buried my head in the pillow crying tears of joy. Got myself together and then hugged and kissed my family. We hopped in the car and came over to your Pops house and celebrated our accomplishment.

A cool side note on Shaunard and me. We played in junior football together, then high school again with the Seahawks!! 

Then a few picks later in round 7 #234 Tony Dungy called my dad's phone. He said "Hey Joe are you ready to be a Tampa Bay Buccaneer?" My house went crazy again as my name flashed across the screen. Everyone was so proud. I hugged my family and Shaunard and sighed a big sigh of relief! 

Joe Tafoya Rookie Card NFL Joe Tafoya Seattle Seahawks NFL -Joe Tafoya Pick #234 Tampa Bay Bucs

I asked a few friends to recall their moment for this story. Lofa Tatupu said this: "I remember that it was one of the greatest days of my life! I was surrounded by family and friends and I wasn't concerned at all what round or where I would go, even though projections had me slated as a 5th round pick at best. All I needed was an opportunity and I was more than grateful to be selected by the Seahawks!" Yes...he is as humble as he sounds! What a fortunate day for Lofa AND the Seahawks. 

Lofa Tatupu Rookie Card - Lofa Tatupu Pick #45 Seattle Seahawks

Then I asked Sean Locklear:

"April 2004, when the draft was a very long  Saturday & Sunday. I’d heard of guys doing a lot of things to occupy the time while waiting to drafted, but I was ready to sit and watch the whole thing. I rented a hotel suite for about 10 of my closest family and friends so we could be together, plus I was nervous as all get out. The draft begins at noon EST. I didn’t sleep much the night before. This is about to be the biggest day of my life. 
    So the draft starts with the San Diego Chargers on the clock and I’m trying to tell myself to stay calm and enjoy the process.
We’re all watching to see where all the players that I either know or recognize are gonna be playing. Sharing the joy as we all learn our fate. From listening to all the scouts and draft gurus, I had the idea that I might get drafted somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd round. All teams were given 15 minutes to select a player and I think most teams used the whole time,  this was gonna be a long day. 
As the day goes, being an O-lineman I see a couple of guys at my position who were ranked ahead of me get selected. So I’m hoping I could be reviewing a call soon. No surprises so far.  The cowboys and a few other teams called to say they might take me late in the 2nd round. In my head, I wanted to be in the NFL, but I did not want to be with the Cowboys. I repeat, i did not want to be a part of their organization. I didn’t like Jerry Jones or Bill Parcells. Being from NC and part Native American, I was a Redskins fan. I hated the cowboys.  So when their chance comes, they select a tackle out of USC in the 2nd round (rated higher than me, no problem).  That was to close. Well, later on  in the in the 3rd round, pick 83, the cowboys take another lineman. This time I’m not happy. This guy was NOT better than me at any phase of football. I was at The Senior Bowl with him for a week and I thoroughly outplayed him. (The Senior Bowl is considered a big audition for college seniors). I even replaced him late in the Bowl game as he was not playing well and hurting our chances at winning. Did I mention I was the MVP for the linemen that week. In my head, this is not happening. I’m starting to pace because I’ve been so cool and patient. All sorts of emotions are starting to come out in my head about this now called “Stupid Draft”. 
All of a sudden my phone rings and it’s the Seattle Seahawks with the 84th pick and they say, “ Sean, are you ready to be a Seahawk?” You know my answer, and it’s instant joy. The guys on the phone pause so my family and I can hear them call my name, smiles and tears everywhere.
After a few minutes of joy and realizing what just happend. I think to myself, “ why was I so upset with the 83rd pick? I’ve NEVER wanted to be a cowboy anyway.

Go Hawks!"
Seahawks Lineman Card Sean Locklear Seahawks Lineman 
The NFL draft format has changed so much over the years. We get to watch the combine live. We get all of the insight from various "experts" and draft gurus on which players are going where. We get a sneak peak into the war rooms and get to see reactions of players and fans. The one thing that can never be put into words is that actual feeling of hearing your name on draft day. We as players will never forget that defining moment in our lives. I'm proud to say that I was part of something as big and special as the NFL Draft. Good luck to all the young men in 2019 who hope to achieve the same.
-Joe Tafoya
Joe Tafoya

Comments

Joe Tafoya

Joe, loved reading this especially knowing all you guys. Had to be very exciting but stressful at same time. Loved hearing more about a young JT, your story is motivating and glad I was able to see you and the guys play.

Joe Tafoya

Love reading the past players remember their draft day! So happy you were all Seahawks Loved cheering for all of you. Still love cheering for all the new Seahawks.

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