Leading up to the NFL Draft, current and former Steelers' players will be sharing their Draft Day Memories, from the time they went to the NFL Scouting Combine, through the moment they were drafted. In this installment, former cornerback Bryant McFadden shared his story.
"The NFL Combine is an exciting time. That is the ultimate job interview for the NFL. Every team is going to be there. Every high-level executive. Every decision maker for the organization will be there. We all know about the physical elements when you talk about the combine, but the mental aspects are just as important. That is when teams get to sit down with you and pick your brain, not just talk about football, but life in general. They are trying to get a better idea about who you are as an individual.
"The interviews can vary based on the team. Some interviews are very generic conversations, just trying to figure out who you are. Some teams might try and hit you with unexpected questions, questions that aren't football related, that seem a bit weird. That is how some teams try to figure out who you are, by hitting you with things you aren't expecting to be asked.
"I talked to the Steelers at the combine. Bill Cowher was the coach. We were in a hotel room in a suite. I was kind of awe struck because 'Mean' Joe Greene was in there as well. He was asking me questions. I was like, wow, this is freaking Joe Greene. It was crazy. Some guys were standing, some were sitting, and I was in the middle getting asked questions. It was a normal interview, which shouldn't come as a surprise knowing how authentic the Steelers organization is.
"My pro day was pretty cool. It was just about competing. For Florida State I was one of the top defensive backs available and I knew a lot of people were coming to see me. I didn't want to disappoint. I did a pretty good job. It was normal football. You didn't have to deal with the interviews and medical stuff. It was football.
"I had an idea the Steelers were interested, because Chris Hope was on the team and was my former teammate. He would tell me that Darren Perry, one of the secondary coaches, would ask about me. What was confusing though is I never spoke to any official with the Steelers after the combine. That is why if they like me, why didn't I hear anything. But that is how it happens with the draft.
"In my mind I thought I was going to be drafted by Atlanta. The day before the draft I had a telephone interview with the general manager and the owner. They were talking highly about me and said if I was available, they would take me. I thought I was going there.
"I was at home for the draft in Hollywood, Florida. We had friends and family at the house. We watched the first round, and it was a good experience with everyone. It was nerve wracking and stressful. I thought I would get drafted higher than I did. You watch, you see people get drafted you played with or against. You are happy for your teammates. It's a good experience, but it's nerve wracking. You don't want anyone calling you.
"Before the Steelers called me, a pick or two before, the Carolina Panthers called me. I thought they were going to select me. They told me we are thinking about selecting you, but hold on, we are still thinking, it's between you and another guy. Then they got back on the phone and said we are going another direction and just hung up. I was crushed. I was literally crushed. A few minutes later I saw a '412' number pop up and I didn't know who was calling. I think it was Kevin Colbert who said is this Bryant McFadden, this is Kevin Colbert, has anybody contacted you. I saw the two teams behind the Steelers, and I said yeah, I was contacted by the Eagles and another team. He said you don't have to worry about entertaining those phone calls because we are going to take you with our next pick.
"It was a surreal moment because I finally got drafted. I wasn't expecting to go to Pittsburgh. When I was on the phone, I stayed in my room because I was hurt from the first call. I didn't want everyone to see that who was at the house. When I went into the room I was talking, and they all saw it on television by surprise.
"Seeing my name on the screen, my highlights and everything, after watching the draft for so many years and then it being your turn, it was like wow, I am actually in it right now.
"It lived up to what I thought it would be and more. I was so happy, and I am still happy because that is a moment I will never forget."