For many during the Holtz Era their football careers didn’t come to an end in South Bend. Their skills and abilities left them highly coveted by NFL franchises. While the NFL Draft hype machine wasn’t quite as glamorous as it is today, it was still an amazing moment for the players who heard their names called during the draft. Here are a few stories in their own words from some of the Holtz Era players selected in the NFL Draft. The stories are unique to each of them and brilliantly capture the day and the emotions they felt seeing childhood dreams come to fruition.
My draft day experience started back in Tulsa, Oklahoma at my parents’ home (Raymond & Algerita Brooks). I was nervous to say the least as I was surrounded by my family. My brother Tony was a member of the Philadelphia Eagles after being taken in the previous year’s draft. I had a great campus workout in front of the Dallas Cowboys. I grew up a Cowboys fan and was really excited about the prospect of being taken by Dallas. They had the last pick in the first round, and I was their guy. As the draft went along several of my Notre Dame teammates had come off the board. Rick Mirer was the second pick, Jerome was the tenth pick, Tom Carter was the seventeenth pick and Irv went to New Orleans with the 20th pick. The Cowboys had a representative at my home. As I waited to hear my name called the Cowboys rep got a call and informed me that the Cowboys were trading down to get more draft picks but I was still their man. I was a little disappointed but still anxious to hear my man and join the Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys. As the 2nd round progressed, I maintained my composure. The 45th pick came around and I was expecting to hear the Cowboys on the phone saying they were going to take me with the next pick. Instead, I found myself talking to Don Breaux, the Redskins running backs coach. I was temporarily speechless as I looked at the Cowboys rep. I affirm I was excited to join the Redskins but internally I was devastated. The rep turned beet red and departed with little to no fanfare. Easily one of the strangest things that has ever happened to me.
Reggie Brooks 45th pick in the 1993 NFL Draft by the Washington (Redskins) Commanders
I was projected as a mid-second to mid-third draft pick in the 1997, so I decided not to go to the NFL Draft in New York. I went back home, and we had a draft day party in downtown Cincinnati at Montgomery Inn Boathouse. The draft started around noon, and we all got down there and the draft was just dragging along. It was going all day long watching ESPN. We get to 7:00 PM and we’re in the second round. They switched from ESPN to ESPN2. The Boathouse does not have ESPN2 so the owners are frantically calling trying to get the cable provider to get ESPN2. During that time, I get the call. The whole place goes quiet. I answer the phone, ‘Yes sir, so excited to be a part of your organization can’t wait to get out there’ (I was speaking to the GM and coach). I hang up the phone and everyone is asking ‘who is it’. I had three boxes of hats. I finger through the first box, can’t find it, I finger through the second boxes, can’t find it. I finger through the 3rd box; I pop on the San Francisco 49ers hat put. I was the 25th pick of the 2nd round and 55th pick overall and the whole place goes completely bonkers. So much fun! To this day I have never seen my name call during draft coverage, but it was still a cool way to be drafted.
Marc Edwards, 55th Pick in the 1997 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers
My draft day experience in 1997 began at my brother’s house. I waited all day to get that call. I finally got the call at the end of the night because back then they had the first three rounds on the first day of coverage. I thought I was going to be a first-round pick. I thought it was going to be a very early day for me, but it turned out to be something very different. I was the 86th pick in the third round and my most memorable moment about it was the very next pick was my brother Kinnon, my classmate taken by the Carolina Panthers at pick number 87. So even though I was disappointed about falling in the draft, I was so happy that I’ll have that moment with my brother Kinnon Tatum. Go Irish! Picks 86 & 87 in 1997.
Bertrand Berry 86th pick in the 1997 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts