Jets Legends Share Draft Memories


Carl Barzilauskas – 1974 1st Round
"It was pretty jumbled up and exciting. Back in those days it's a lot different than it is now. I had about five or six coaches over at my apartment and as soon as Weeb (Ewbank) called, they all left except for the guy from the Jets.

"They were from different NFL teams. I'd heard that it happened before. I was a pretty high-ranked draft choice and they were all seeing what they could do to get me. That's why they were all up there. One of them was cooking breakfast. They were just like good ol' boys laying around."

John Booty – 1988 10th Round
"It was the second day of the Draft and I got frustrated and asked my agent to take me to the airport so I could fly back home to Texas. So, I'm at the Atlanta airport, and I hear over the intercom, 'John Booty, call your agent.' So, I called my agent and he said, 'Well, John, you just got drafted by the New York Jets.' People were walking by while I was on the phone, and I was like, 'Hey! I just got drafted!' And they're looking at me, 'This guy's crazy.'

"When I woke up that morning, I looked in the newspaper and it showed all the guys that had got drafted on the first day. I saw the New York Jets had drafted Terry Williams, and it said out of Texas Christian University. Wait a minute. He didn't go to Texas Christian University; I went to Texas Christian University. I told my agent, 'They wanted to draft me. The Jets made a mistake. They wanted to take me in the second round.'"

Greg Buttle – 1976 3rd Round
"I didn't like it. I was a Baltimore Colts fan, and I go from a Colts fan to a Pittsburgh Steelers fan because all of my friends (at college) were from Pittsburgh. So, I'm drafted by the Jets, who have (Joe) Namath as the quarterback, and I hated Namath because he beat my Colts in the Super Bowl when I was a kid.

"The Jets were a lousy football team, and the one thing that I found out that they did have, they had a really good (linebackers) coach at the time, Walt Michaels. I don't think that I would have been able to play as long as I did if it wasn't for Walt Michaels."

Erik Coleman – 2004 5th Round
"I was elated. I was very excited to be drafted in the NFL. And to know that I was going to New York; it was scary but very exciting all the same time.

"I come from Spokane, Washington, and I think the population was a quarter of a million people. I went to college at Washington State, where the population was probably 35,000 people. And to know that I was flying across the country, where I'd never been, the East Coast, and to know that I was coming to the New York to play football was very intimidating. But I was a young man, 21 years old at the time; I was very excited about the opportunity."

Jerricho Cotchery – 2004 – 4th Round
"It was a lifelong dream to be drafted into the league, just a feeling of thankfulness. I remember the tears and looking back throughout my life and seeing what it took to get to that point. It all kind of worked itself out and I was just happy to be drafted by the Jets. I felt that was the team I had the most chemistry with throughout the interviewing process. So, I was extremely excited."

Scott Dierking – 1977 4th Round
"I was very surprised because I had never heard anything from the Jets prior to being drafted by them. Whereas a couple other teams like the (Dallas) Cowboys and the (Kansas City) Chiefs would send you team information and you'd get a call now and then that they were interested in you. So, I was blindsided when the Jets picked me.

"But it was actually a perfect place to be drafted because they were starting pretty much with a new team. It was a great opportunity."

Jeff Lageman – 1989 1st Round
"Fortunately, I wasn't there to watch the TV broadcast when the boos and (ESPN's) Mel Kiper had his famous line (essentially saying the Jets had no idea what they're doing). I was in the other room talking on the phone (with the Jets) and then kind of came around the corner into the whole group of people who were there, I just pointed at the TV and they made the announcement.

"I didn't hear anything from the TV aspect of it. I just heard my family and friends erupting and getting excited. It was a great moment. I didn't get to see what was exactly going on on television and what was said afterward.

"I'm glad I wasn't one of those guys that was just sitting there watching TV and listening to the reaction of it because it was certainly a controversial pick and one which some of the Jets fans certainly booed very loudly.

"Even though I laugh about it now, when I was younger, I certainly wanted to rip Mel Kiper's head off and do things to him that most people wouldn't want to think about. But now that I'm older, it's not a big deal.

"The one thing about that moment, and I look at it from a perspective of you've got a lot of young men that are realizing their dreams, to have an analyst potentially ruin it or to make it not as great as it should be, that can be a shame."

Marty Lyons – 1979 1st Round
"Well, you're excited. You think back of how many years and all the people that have touched your life. This is a childhood dream to make it into the NFL, and you get the phone call that you're drafted in the first round by the Jets. Leaving the University of Alabama, where we had so much success, and now you're stepping into a world that you're actually getting paid to play a game you love."

Erik McMillan – 1988 3rd Round
"I was very excited. I just wanted an opportunity. I really didn't have a preference as to where I went; I just wanted an opportunity to play. But it didn't sink in that it was actually New York as in THE New York City until I actually went back to my residence after the Draft.

"I was like, 'Wow! This is great. this is the East Coast. I grew up on the East Coast in Silver Spring, Maryland. I'll be close to home. What a great experience this is going to be. This is going to be excellent for me. So, I was very happy all the way around.

"I just packed my worldly possessions, put them in my Volkswagen Jetta and drove to New York and came through the Lincoln Tunnel and there New York was, and I was like, 'Wow!'"

Ray Mickens – 1996 3rd Round
"I had mixed emotions at the time. I was projected to go in the first round and then I slid past the second and was the first pick of the third. So, I was a little upset.

"But I got that call from (head coach) Rich Kotite and (director of player personnel) Dick Haley and (first-round pick) Keyshawn Johnson was there, and they welcomed me to the family. I was happy and excited to know where my next home was and to get started."

Ken O'Brien – 1983 1st Round
"I was thrilled, excited as can be. I grew up as a Jets fan with all my family, my mom and dad, aunts and uncles, everybody from New York. My uncles were all New York City cops, so when we'd visit, they'd give my parents a break and take all the nephews. We'd pile in the car and go out to either the Mets practice or the Jets practice. I was able to meet Joe Namath when I was just a little kid. That's always stuck in my mind."

Gerry Philbin – 1964 3rd Round
"I was drafted in the third round by the Jets and the Detroit Lions. I was impressed with New York because No. 1, they treated me a lot better and with more respect. The NFL came with their scouts to the (University at Buffalo) campus, and this scout looked and said, 'Well, you might be too small for the NFL.' And he was putting down the AFL.

"I was a big New York Giants fan growing up, so I was always an NFL fan, but the Jets took the time to fly me in a private jet to New York and I was met at the airport and so on. They showed me a lot more respect. There was never any doubt in my mind that I was going to sign with the Jets."

Sione Po'uha – 2005 3rd Round
"Oh, man, I loved it. It was a surreal feeling, one that you always wanted as a little kid growing up watching Monday Night Football. You're in Little League, and all you're trying to do is mimic what the NFL guys would do. So, when I got called by the Jets to come and play for them, it was super exciting. It was a dream come true. It's a memory that I'll always remember."

Matt Robinson – 1977 9th Round
"I actually had talked to the Washington Redskins and they said whether you get drafted or not, we're going to call and sign you. But obviously, when you get drafted, somebody thinks enough to use a pick on you. It's quite flattering. So, I was just tickled pink, especially to go to New York. Are you kidding me? A great market like that, high profile. I was very pleased."

Pat Ryan – 1978 11th Round
"I didn't play much in college and so I was just hoping to get drafted. I wouldn't have got drafted nowadays with only seven rounds, but there were 12 back then. So, I slid in at the last minute."

Shafer Suggs – 1976 2nd Round
"Back in '76, there was no Combine. You were really selected based off of your senior year (at Ball State), and I was fortunate to play in the East-West Shrine Game and in the Senior Bowl. And then based on my performance there, I heard that I would probably go in the first or second round. The night before the Draft, I received calls from several teams, and it's funny, I didn't get a call from the Jets.

"That next morning, I'm sitting in my house knowing that I'd get drafted early, maybe by ten o'clock. I waited and I waited and by noon, I didn't get a call. I was freaking out. And about one o'clock that afternoon, I get a loud bang on my door. It was my head coach, Dave McClain, 'Shafer, where have you been? The Jets drafted you in the second round and they've been trying to contact you.'

"Apparently, my phone, which was sitting next to me, I must have hit it and the cord was out of the socket a little bit. So, that whole time, the phone was not receiving calls. They finally called and I got a chance to talk to (Jets first-year head coach) Lou Holtz. It was an exciting moment, but it was full of a lot of anxiety that morning because I thought they forgot me."

Jim Sweeney – 1984 2nd Round
"It was a dream come true. I was glad it was somewhere in the northeast where my parents could come watch me play. The Jets, two years prior, were in the AFC Championship Game, so I was going to a good organization. The head coach (Joe Walton) was a western PA guy. They had a pretty formidable defensive front, that was known, so they were going to be teammates. It was a great situation for me."

Blair Thomas – 1990 1st Round
"I was happy to have the opportunity to play at the next level. That's something that you grow up dreaming about. You want to have that opportunity. I kind of knew the night before. I got a call (from New York's general manager Dick Steinberg) saying I was going to be picked by the Jets unless something crazy happens. So, when it did pan out that way, I was excited."

Richard Todd – 1976 1st Round
"I thought it was great, I get to go play with Joe Willie (Namath). I met Joe when I was a sophomore in college. He'd come over (to the University of Alabama) and work out, so I'd known Joe for quite a while.

"He had a lot with me being drafted by the Jets because they said, 'Joe, go check out this guy because he can throw the ball. He just don't throw it down at Alabama, they run the wishbone.

"He was my idol when I was growing up. It was really cool hanging around Joe. Just watching his leadership and the way he played, the way he looked at things. He was hurt after the third or fourth game (in my rookie year), and I was kind of thrown into the melee at that time."

Wesley Walker – 1977 2nd Round
"I was really disappointed because I was supposed to be a first-round draft choice. My senior year (at the University of California), I had a very serious knee injury, so it scared a lot of teams. But all the scouts were saying I was still going in the first round. I'm waiting for the phone call, it didn't come. And finally, New Orleans called and said they're starting the second round and they're going to draft me.

"I get a call later and think it's New Orleans, and it was the Jets. I'm from California and I love the Raiders and San Francisco (49ers), but if I had a choice, New York would have been one of the teams I would have selected myself."

Al Woodall – 1969 2nd Round
"Believe it or not, I was in active (Army) military duty. I was in basic training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. I was two days into it and at that point they had me buried. You don't even know the outside world's there. Somebody called the base and told them (the Jets) were looking for me. And all of a sudden, I get called out of ranks and am thinking, 'Now what'd I do?' And that's how I found out."

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