2011. 5th round. 25th cornerback selected. 154th overall. These were the numbers that circled in my head going into my rookie season. Been angrier and angrier with every pick that went by. I told myself that I was going to prove to everyone, to all the doubters, that they were wrong. I was going to give 110% day in, day out. No one was going to work harder on the field than me. And today, even after all that I've been able to accomplish, with this team, with my brothers, these are still the numbers I have in my head. They aren't going away.
Of course things change though. The league is always changing. It's a lot different now than when I came in. When I came in, nobody wanted this model of a cornerback. You're too tall, too stiff, they would say. You don't run well. You don't get out of your breaks. For me to change the prototype for what a corner is, is a great thing. The game has always been changing, getting bigger, better, faster, stronger receivers who are Calvin Johnson's size. A.J. Green, Julio Jones - some of the best receivers in the league are huge.
I still remember my draft experience like it was yesterday. It was a long couple days to say the least. I had maybe 60-70 family members sitting around. Watching it, pick after pick, the minutes feel like hours. The hours feel like days. With every pick that goes by, you lose a little bit of yourself. You lose a little bit of confidence, little bit of swagger, little bit of joy. End of the 2nd day and you start second guessing yourself. Is it ever going to happen? Hoping somebody recognized all the hard work and dedication you put in. Maybe all the doubters were right.
By the 3rd day, 60 people turned to 7. Not as much energy in the room. The names keep getting called. After the 4th round it felt like I lost 10 years from my life. You stop watching. Start gazing off. Wondering if it's ever going to happen. Maybe it's not made for you.
Then it happens. The phone rings. Everyone gets excited when the phone rings. You're hoping this isn't some random person just calling you. On draft day. You only want the phone to ring if it is a team. That's the worst feeling in the world. When somebody just calls you.
I pick up and it's the Seattle Seahawks. I'm in. I told Schneider and Pete that this is the best decision they could have made. I'll make you look very intelligent for it, I told them.
To all the incoming guys this year. I can tell you from experience that this weekend will be tough. Every possible emotion and thought will go through your head. Am I good enough? Did I work hard enough? Maybe if I had done this, or did that differently? But you have to trust yourself. Trust the work, the time, the dedication you have put in. Trust what your coaches taught you, what your teammates taught you, what your family has taught you.
Doesn't matter if you get the 1st call or the 254th. If that phone rings, congratulations, you made it.