Nebraska offensive tackle Brent Qvale may not have been selected during the 2014 NFL Draft, but it was memorable nevertheless. And the fact that he and a few Cornhusker teammates were wearing tuxedos during the third day of it was just a coincidental bonus.
"My friend, Cole, was getting married that day, and we all kind of looked at him like, 'You picked this day to get married on, huh? Okay,'" Qvale said. "So there was myself and a few other guys in the wedding party that were all waiting for our names to be called on that last day of the Draft.
"And then the ceremony was during the last few rounds, so our significant others all had our phones and we were just kind of all waiting for the call. And then it was during the reception that I got my call and, ultimately, that's when I became a New York Jet."
With New York only drafting one offensive lineman, Dakota Dozier, and as difficult as it seemingly would have been to do, Qvale, the 6-7, 315-pound free agent, wasn't lost in the crowd, and was taken under the wings of his new veteran teammates.
"The main ones for me were Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Breno Giacomini and Willie Colon," Qvale said. "That was the group that I came into the Jets' O-line room with. They were all eight- or nine- or 10-year veterans at this point, so just kind of seeing how they operated and how well they played, that was something that I tried to do myself. And just having them to be able to talk to, and ask questions about everything, was a huge help for me."
Suffering a concussion during training camp, Qvale spent his rookie season under Rex Ryan on the practice squad. Of course, no one wants to be injured. But it did allow him to learn about life in the NFL with less pressure.
"It was almost like a redshirt year in college," Qvale said. "And it was the old practice squad rule, where you weren't able to be elevated and brought back down like it is today. So it was one of those things where I knew that I had to be ready, but at the same time, I knew that my job was to just make myself better. To help the team in the future."
The future began the following season without Ryan. Let go by the Jets, Todd Bowles became the Jets' new head coach after spending the previous two years as the defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals.
"It was very tough for me mostly because I was a young player. I felt like I had just spent that year on the practice squad developing my relationships and my techniques for that coaching staff and everything, and then they all get fired," Qvale said.
"And when Coach Bowles came in, and then Coach Steve Marshall, the O-line coach, was brought in, it was tough at first. But it also was a new opportunity to where I had a clean slate. I was able to make the active roster, partially I think, because I had that fresh start with Coach Bowles and Coach Marshall."
Actually, Qvale could have made a bundle selling 'Hello, My Name Is' stickers at the team's training facility. Over his six seasons with the Jets, there were three different head coaches, five different offensive coordinators and six different offensive line or assistant offensive line coaches.
"Yeah, that was definitely a tough part," Qvale said. "Not only just trying to try to keep everything the same and build and grow off of what we did the previous year, but that's unfortunately life of the NFL right now. And it seems like it's getting even more tough, to where if either guys or coaches aren't performing to the level that people want, it's a quick change.
"So you've got to be able to grow and adapt. But it was nice having Coach Marshall three years in a row because then I kind of knew everything with him. But at the same time, I respected and got along with all of my offensive line coaches. It's a weird part of the NFL. Guys are always moving."
A Jet for six of his eight seasons in the NFL, the final two were with Houston, what makes Qvale most proud of his career?
"I think going undrafted," he said. "First of all, you've got that label. Even in my sixth-, seventh-, eighth-year, in any of the free agent talks or team talks, that undrafted tag still sits with you sometimes.
"But spending a year on practice squad, I'm proud that I was able to keep going and really trying to just improve every year. And then I blinked, essentially, and I was able to get in eight years. So that's something that I'm super proud of.
"And one of my fondest memories was my first career start at right tackle. It was a Thursday night game up in Buffalo in 2016. [The Jets won, 37-31] My other fondest memory was that (five-game winning) run we went on in 2015. It's unfortunate that we didn't get it done to get to the playoffs that year, but that was such a fun team.
"That was my second year in the league, and that kind of just showed me what it takes to have success and to keep going. I really credit that second year, 2015, to propelling the rest of my career."
Qvale and his wife, Melisa, who have a 3-year-old daughter, Chandler, began career No. 2 while he was playing for the Jets, when they founded a real estate company, Q Properties, in Lincoln, Nebraska.
"We've kind of grown it over the years. We buy houses, rent houses. We're doing our first building projects, building some houses to sell," Qvale said. "It's been fun. I've learned way more about housing and everything like that than I ever thought I would. So it's been interesting. I had no idea that this was going to turn into a full-time profession, but that's where we are right now. Which is pretty cool.
"(What I enjoy most is) the flexibility of schedule. That's been the biggest part for us, having a young toddler. Some days are pretty quiet and then some days, it could be on a Saturday or a Sunday, that something goes wrong and you're the only one that's responsible for getting it done. So that's something that has been a challenge, as well. But also, pretty cool. I like having the control. It's our business. So if something needs to get done, it's got to be one of us to do it."