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Draft Day by Bill Ferrario

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It was the 2001 NFL Draft. I was a 6'3” 315 lb. offensive guard from the University of Wisconsin. The University which just four years earlier began the tradition of Offensive Line U. I didn't know at the time how long the tradition would last and that I would become a part of it. I had just finished up a dream of a college career. I started every game of my college career (only the 3rd player in B1G Ten history to accomplish this), blocked for a 1,000+ yard rusher every year and most of all blocked three years for the All-Time Rushing Leader and 1999 Heisman Trophy Winner Ron Dayne. The stage had been set for great things to come.

Leading up to the 2001 NFL Draft I dealt with some tough adversity. I tore a portion of my quad muscle while training for the combines. I had to remove myself from all physical activities in Indy. I thought that was the worst that could happen to me and that it was going to damage any stock I had going into draft weekend. I later found out that my height was going to be scrutinized everywhere I went and with every scout and GM I would deal with. I had to keep saying that it didn't matter to me if I was 6'5” or 6', I would move anyone that was in front of me like I have always done in the past and they could watch my tape to see this. I rehabbed my quad enough to be able to run and do enough drills at my Pro Day to prove I was healthy or at least getting healthy and my leg was healing. The most outrageous thing that happened to me leading up to the draft was when a scout, from a team that had interest in me came to Madison, WI days before the draft to time me in the 40. He said his GM needed a better 40 time on me to feel comfortable drafting me. My leg was still not at 100%. After a few subpar attempts, he actually pulled out a tape measure to measure Madison's indoor field and informed me that the yardage was improperly measured. I then ended up running roughly a 36 yard dash and of course improved my time enough for him to write it down and say good luck to me before leaving.

Where to watch the draft? This was not a question for me. I was watching it in PA with my family and friends. The important question was if my girlfriend at the time (my wonderful wife of 12+ years) was going to join me. I basically had the relationship conversation with her. “If you come home to watch the draft with my family, you will be planning on joining me to whatever city drafts me. If this is not the way you feel, let’s just end things now,” real smooth on my part. She obviously came out to PA with me. We all knew the Green Bay Packers were extremely interested in me. It made it more interesting that they had two picks in the 3rd Round. I was projected to be drafted as high as the late 2nd to the 5th. Things started off interesting when her parents dropped us off at the airport and her dad pulled me in close to whisper in my ear “if you get drafted to the Minnesota Vikings, don't bother coming back here.” I also stressed to my wife not to bring and Packers gear home with us due to my superstition.

Saturday Rounds 1 – 3. I got quite a few phone calls but my name did not get called. The Packers drafted a DB and LB with their two picks in the 3rd. My dad and uncles were yelling at the TV and cussing at every team that did not pick me. I think my girlfriend was rethinking why she decided to join me to go home and watch the draft. I actually left my house to go play basketball to get out of my house. I could not take it either. Later that night I got on the phone with my agent and he informed me that he had been on the phone with teams talking about my status. He told me that the Packers had the 4th pick of the 4th Round on Sunday and Buffalo had the pick after that. He said that the Packers want to take me but Buffalo said if I am on the board that they are definitely taking me. When I tell this to my girlfriend she responded, “I don't want to live in BUFFALO.” What about the talk we had before leaving WI?

Finally, with the 105th pick of the 2001 Draft, the Green Bay Packers made my dreams come true and made my girlfriend very happy. Within seconds I was on the phone with what seemed like every media person in WI. My girlfriend was pulling Packers gear out of her suitcase as my family was making plans to buy every piece of Packers gear they could find in Scranton, PA. Next thing I knew everyone darted out of the house to buy party supplies and Packer gear. I was in my parents’ house all alone with the biggest smile I had ever had on my face. Everything I had ever worked for had just paid off. I would be playing football in the National Football League. I thought I was dreaming. Everyone did return for a great draft party where we celebrated late into the night. I was honored to have been drafted to the Green Bay Packers and like many Wisconsinites, will anxiously wait to see who we draft. I only hope they draft a couple O-Linemen to keep #12 upright and healthy.

Thanks for reading,

Bill Ferrario
@Bill_Ferrario and @PackerEvents on Twitter
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