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Draft Day Memories 2009 - Part 1


*Players never forget the day they were drafted, and they can remember various moments from that once-in-a-lifetime day, memories that sharpen as a new NFL Draft approaches each year. caught up with all the members of Green Bay's 2009 draft class who are still on the roster to share what they remember most from their draft day one year ago.

Excerpts of those thoughts will be presented in a two-part series.*

B.J. Raji, first round, ninth overall

"I was at home (in New Jersey) with some family. I had NFL Network and ESPN come through with the trucks. That was probably the coolest part. I knew it was getting for real when I saw those two different trucks pull up in front of my house and start setting up, probably about 10 a.m.. I was like, 'Wow, it's going to happen.'

"I'm not going to lie to you, it was a little nervous for me. The plethora of teams I could have fallen to and the spots, it was a little crazy. I was looking at between (number) 5 and 12 to 15, so I could literally go anywhere.

"I really thought I was going to end up in Cleveland. The day before, I heard the whole Cleveland staff was at Boston College, my school. They were calling my professors, going to the academic departments, seeing what they could find out about me. I was wondering why they would be doing this if they're not going to take me, but then when Cleveland traded their pick (No. 5 overall) to the Jets, I was like, 'I have no idea where I'm going now.' So I can't say I knew I was going to Green Bay, because I really didn't know.

"I believe the Jaguars had the No. 8 pick right before the Packers, and I was waiting, seeing what's happening, and then I get a call from a Florida number. So I'm like, 'Wow, am I going to Jacksonville?' I pick up, and it's my friend's mother from Orlando. I'm like, 'Ms. Brooks, can you call me right back? I'm waiting to see what team it is.' Everyone started cheering when the phone rang, and then when it was her, they were like, 'Aaaaaahhhhhh...'

"Then one pick later, Ted called me and said he was taking me. I can remember him saying 'B.J., it's Ted Thompson from the Green Bay Packers.' He goes, 'How are you doing?' 'I'm fine.' 'You want to be a Packer?' And I'm like, 'Of course. I'm honored to be a Packer.' I said thank you.

"After, I had a little draft party at one of the clubs where I live out in Hoboken, N.J. I got a limo for me, my brother and some friends, and we had a pretty good time.

"Then on Sunday, it started to hit me, I'm really a Packer. The doorbell rang, and I couldn't get it in time, so I went outside and someone left two CDs in the mailbox. My neighbor had videotaped the draft on TV and came back and dropped it off. So I go pop it in, and it was the day all over again, so I watched that for a while. Good moments like that don't last forever, so I tried to re-live it a little bit."

Clay Matthews, first round, 26th overall

"I was with my family and close friends all at my house (in California), and we had a camera crew there from ESPN. I just remember waiting around, and it seemed like forever. Every pick, it seems like an eternity for them to call someone's name. You're waiting for your phone and you're thinking perhaps you don't have signal or you missed a call or something.

"I don't know how long it was, two or three hours to get to that pick, and they always have that camera glaring on you, so you feel like you can't show displeasure in others getting drafted ahead of you or anything along those lines. You have to keep a straight face and be very humble and happy even though it's frustrating waiting around that long.

"With the 26th pick, I remember there being a minute-30 left and the Patriots were up, so I concluded I wouldn't be the 26th pick. Then I got a call from a 920 number. I had no idea who was calling me, and it was the Green Bay Packers. I knew they didn't have the pick, so I thought they were calling just to see what the buzz was around my name. It turned out they said they were going to trade up and draft me, and the rest is history. I was excited for the opportunity to come to Green Bay and be part of such a historic organization. At the same time, I was moreso happy just to not have to wait anymore and put everything that I had done prior to the draft to rest and to start anew.

"We just had some champagne around the house and celebrated a little bit, but nothing too serious. Just hung out with my family and friends, the ones who had been with me through thick and thin. It was a nice day. I'd be lying if I said I watched any more of the draft. I turned it off and just enjoyed the rest of the day, having a good time enjoying everyone's company.

"When you get drafted, you're just happy to be part of a team, but I think a little bit later it hit me they had given up a second-round pick and two third-round picks just to trade up and draft me. So it truly showed the magnitude of how much they wanted me to be a part of this team and how much they thought I could be a building block for this defense. Once that truly set in, I knew this was going to be the right environment for me to thrive in and for me to excel in. I was super-excited they showed that they wanted me, and hopefully it's paying off.

"I couldn't be happier where I ended up, not only in the draft but with this organization. Now I'm just looking forward to improving on last year."

T.J. Lang, fourth round, 109th overall

"I pretty much knew I was going to be drafted on the second day, so I had a few of my family members and some close friends together. We were all watching it, and I was telling everybody not to call me that day, because I didn't want to freak out when my phone rang. I was pretty calm actually, and I slept great that weekend. I know a lot of guys get nervous, but I was pretty excited Sunday morning when I woke up.

"I have a pretty big family, so when I say I was with my family, that means about 30, 40 people. We rented out a little banquet hall and had a big projector for watching the draft, eating food and hanging out and stuff.

"Honestly, I kind of had my teams narrowed down to a few I thought were going to draft me, and Green Bay was one of them. I took a pre-draft visit out here, and I could tell it was my kind of place. Just the town, the organization, the type of people that were around here. I knew I wanted to be here. The weekend I left here from my visit, I called my agent and told him I could see myself playing in Green Bay.

"During the draft, I called my agent a few times and kept asking him when Green Bay drafted next, because they had two (picks) in the first round and didn't have another one until the fourth. They had been off the board for a while, but sure enough, I saw them pop up at 109 and felt my phone ringing. I looked down and answered it, and it was a 920 area code, but I didn't know what it was at the time.

"I remember it was Matt Klein. He told me he was putting me on the phone with GM Ted Thompson, and right then knew I was coming to Green Bay. Mr. Thompson said, 'How would you like to play for the Green Bay Packers?' I said, 'Absolutely.' I talked to a few other coaches - Coach Philbin, Coach Campen and Coach Fontenot. It was real brief, and they said to go enjoy the moment with your family.

"It was just an awesome experience, getting the phone call and being able to enjoy it with my family as the name popped up on the screen. A lot of cheers and even a few tears from mom and sister. It's such a priceless feeling, all the work that you put in through the past four years of college and even after college, the three months of hectic training for the Combine and the workouts you do for the teams. It all paid off that one day. I remember my jaw hurting so bad because I was smiling the whole day. The excitement was overwhelming. It was an awesome feeling."

Quinn Johnson, fifth round, 145th overall

"I was at my house in Baton Rouge, just sitting around waiting on the phone call. I was with a bunch of family - mom, dad, girlfriend, sister, brother, cousins, aunts, uncles. Everybody was there.

"When I got the phone call and had no idea who it was or where it was coming from. I have no idea who the first person was I talked to, to be honest with you. I really didn't know what to think, if I should be excited or worried or what. I was kind of in awe for the most part. After I talked to everybody on the phone, they got excited and that's when I started to get excited too. I was ready to be here.

"The fifth round was about my expectation. I actually went a little higher than I thought I would. I was thinking maybe later fifth, or sixth. That's what my agent was telling me, so it was a good surprise for me.

"I had an idea (the Packers were interested) because I talked to (RB coach) Edgar Bennett when I was at the Combine, and we went over the (interview) time, talking through a lot of things. I had a little idea, but I didn't know they would actually pick me.

"Those next few days, I definitely was excited and ready to go, but at the same time I was a little nervous. I didn't know what to expect, didn't know how the guys would be, how the coaches would be. It was a little intimidating, but at the same time I was ready to get the beginning over with."

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