Special to Sports News Highlights

(SNH) — Have you ever gone to a job interview and then had to wait a month or more for the organization to make a decision? Now imagine that this interview included an in-depth review of your work experience. Not just past performance reviews, but your actual work on film for the interviewers to watch, evaluate and critique.

Imagine the recruitment process included measuring every inch of your body, and testing all aspects of your talents, skills and abilities.  A lengthy in-person interview would follow in which you may be asked intimate details about your past knowing that the organization will use professionals to research everything about you from social media to your past relationships, maybe even calling your grandmother.

And then, the entirety of the interview and every detail about you is available for the public to scrutinize. Finally, on the day of the hiring announcement, it is held live in front of hundreds of thousands of people and broadcast on television for millions more to watch. This is the experience for thousands of young men each year who hope to be selected through the draft for a chance to play in the National Football League.

As the draft progressed this year, I thought about what the experience of sitting with loved ones and waiting to be chosen must feel like for these young men. On the third day of the draft, I looked to see who was evaluated by the experts as the best player still available.

At that moment, Brenden Rice was listed as the best player available. He was ranked as the 14th best prospect at wide receiver and 81st player overall. At this point on day three of the draft, over 200 players had been selected with 30 of them being wide receivers, yet Brenden was still waiting to hear his name called.

I wondered about this young man and was curious about his story. Turns out he is the son of Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, who holds the NFL all-time records in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

Upon further research, I learned that on that day of the draft, Brenden was accompanying the body of his former teammate and best friend to his final resting place. He was not sitting around waiting for a phone call, but on a much more important mission.

He was eventually selected in the seventh round with the 225th pick, by the Los Angles Chargers while serving as a pallbearer at a funeral for his former teammate. His father had given him the advice of not making the moment too big when his name was called. I imagine that Brenden’s thoughts were elsewhere that day, and for him the moment was put into the right perspective.

Hearing your name called during the draft is just the beginning. It represents an opportunity to compete for one of the 53 active players spots on one of just 32 NFL teams. During the 2024 draft 257 players were selected and at least that many or more will be signed as undrafted free agents. That’s enough players to fill the active roster for 10 teams or almost one-third of the league.

Obviously, not every draft pick will make it in the NFL. It appears that the advice Jerry Rice gave his son is sound. The moment when your name is called is not what’s important.  Just ask “Mr. Irrelevant” the final pick of the 2022 draft Brock Purdy. He went from being the last player selected to starting a Super Bowl two years later.

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