Day three of the NFL Draft had finally come around, and I was still a nervous wreck. So, in an effort to keep calm, I stayed away from the TV as much as I could, just like I did during days one and two. I constantly kept myself busy: I washed my car; I washed my Mom's car; I even washed my cousin's car! Basically, I just stayed outside all day, because I didn't want to have anything to do with that which was worrying me so much.
Finally, while I was sitting outside with my family and friends, talking with one of my homeboys on the phone, it happened...
The New Orleans Saints called my draft phone.
As soon as that thing rang, I dropped my iPhone to the ground, grabbed my other phone, answered it, and I was suddenly speaking with Mr. Rick Reiprish, the Saints' college scouting director.
"Hey, Al. How you doin'!?" ...he asked.
I was like... "I'm doing alright. I'm just here at home waiting for my name to get called."
I'll never forget the words that then came out of his mouth...
"This is Rick Reiprish from the New Orleans Saints, and we're getting ready to trade up to get you."
That - right there - was the moment my dream came true.
My favorite team of all-time was going to trade up at the end of the fourth round to get me, because - I think - they had gotten wind that the Carolina Panthers (or some other team) were getting ready to grab me before the Saints could. They were actually nervous that they'd miss their chance to draft me, because - according to Mr. Reiprish - they had kinda figured that I would have been gone a lot earlier in the draft.
By this point, I was so excited and happy to be a Saint that I could barely think straight. I was so ecstatic that I'm surprised I even heard Mr. Reiprish wrap up our conversation by saying how happy he was for me to be a part of the team, and that if I simply continue to work hard and fullfill my potential, I'd be a great player for the Saints for many years to come.
After Mr. Reiprish and I spoke, Coach Sean Payton and I talked (He's such a great guy!). With that motivational energy he has, he told me...
"Al... Come in and get ready to go to work. The sky is the limit with this team, and we're happy for you to be a part of it."
I then told him, "I'm so excited and ecstatic! I'm shooting for the stars with the New Orleans Saints, and I cannot wait to get down there, put on a Saints helmet, and go to work!"
After I got off the phone with Coach Payton, it was official: I was going to play for the New Orleans Saints! Then, all of the sudden, my family and friends had a HUGE party, and it wasnt' even organized! Seriously, people just started showing up with meat in their hands, ready to celebrate with a nice meal. So we got the bbq pit cracklin' and had a great time - it really did turn out to be a massive ordeal. It's crazy how in a small town one person can send out a text message with some good news, and then the next thing you know, it spreads like wildfire throughout the entire community. Seriously, it felt like the whole town was hanging out in my front yard!
Later that night, I, along with my girlfriend and our other friends, went out to eat to get away from the house for a bit. We all sat there, enjoyed our meal, and talked about how crazy it was that I was going to play for the New Orleans Saints. Still to this moment, it's wild for me to even imagine that this is now my reality. I'm so very blessed ;-)
FYI... I have a little more for you tomorrow, so stick around.