Sitting around a television with your family in a ranch house waiting for your name to be called is hard enough, and for quarterback Kevin Kolb, anxiously waiting for your future to be determined gives you time to reflect on the past.
It's early in the fourth quarter; Houston leads Oklahoma State, 27 – 25. Kolb has completed 20-of-26 passes for 306-yards and three touchdowns. The ball is at the eight-yard line. Kolb brings out the Cougars offense in the spread, shotgun offense. Kolb lifts his leg and motions towards his receiver.
Kolb is back in a five-step drop. He looks left, glances right, and then fires a strike over the middle to his receiver for his fourth touchdown pass of the night. Houston extends its lead to 33 – 25. Kolb, fired up, runs off to the sideline pumping his fist and is throwing high-fives to his teammates in exhilaration.
This isn't just an ordinary game for Kolb; this is a game that means something. This is a game that represents a part of his past. This was a game against the team he verbally committed to before deciding to enroll at the University of Houston. This was a special game and he left it all on the field that night.
Kolb isn't surprised to see the 215-area code appear on his phone, but he is surprised to see it that early in the draft. He knew the Eagles were interested, because they told him that they were planning on selecting him in the late-second, early-third round. But with a few teams set on taking Kolb in the early portion of the second round, the Eagles pull the trigger despite the possible displeasure of their fan base.
In the background of the much-awaited phone call, an applause rains over the crowd at the Radio City Music Hall. A massive array of support comes from fans wearing green and black. Some have their faces painted; others are wearing their team's jersey with pride.
The moment has arrived… the fans chant: E-A-G-L-E-S – Eagles.
In the shadows, NFL director of football operations Gene Washington makes his way to the podium to announce the Philadelphia Eagles first pick of the day.
"With the 36th pick in the NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select from Houston, quarterback Kevin Kolb."
A chorus of boos come across the television and into the home of the Kolbs.
"Wow," ESPN commentators Chris Mortensen and Chris Berman say. Berman follows with, "We didn't expect that one, wow."
The reaction from the Philadelphia fans towards the selection of Kolb rivals that of when Donovan McNabb was selected by the Eagles, second overall in the 1999 NFL Draft. Kolb remembers the reaction that McNabb received, and he maintains that his reaction towards the boos was real and not premeditated.
"No, that's all natural man," Kolb said, referring to his comments about being shocked that the Eagles took him high in the second round. "I don't preset something in my mind and act a certain way. What you see is what you get. I have a lot of solid things in my life. I have a beautiful wife. I love my family. I love where I come from and what I represent. What somebody does to me or says to me on the outside is not going to affect me as a person or get me too frustrated or set off course. That's the way I've always been."
That mindset stems from Kolb's days growing up in Texas. Playing football in the Lone Star State can be a burden. Kolb posed for pictures outside of convenience stores, spoke to press everyday, received special treatment, and all of this occurred in high school.
The movies "Friday Night Lights" and "Varsity Blues" portrayed certain behaviors in regards to football in Texas. The movies allowed the rest of the country to see how passionate and obsessed locals in Texas are about their football. It's obvious that football is a way of life in the south and Kolb learned that first hand.
Being exposed to the press at a young age can teach you a lesson or two. Being put in front of a camera where your words are dissected more than a presidential speech can be overwhelming for a young player. His early experiences in football gave him a leg up on the demands that were put on him in college, and will now help him in the NFL.
Kolb hasn't really faced much adversity in his playing career. He's been the starting quarterback everywhere he's been, and this year in Philadelphia will be a different atmosphere for him. He will be the third-string quarterback behind starter Donovan McNabb and backup A.J. Feeley. The Eagles also have another quarterback on the roster, veteran Kelly Holcomb.
The situation Kolb is faced with in Philadelphia is similar to the one his childhood hero Brett Favre faced when he was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the 1991 NFL Draft. Favre was a second-round selection (33rd overall) by Atlanta, and he wasn't an endorsed pick by head coach Jerry Glanville. Glanville once said that it would take a plane crash for him to put Favre into the game. The more Glanville ignored Favre, the more Favre rebelled.
It took a trade to the Green Bay Packers for Favre to showcase his talents. The situation in Philadelphia is not as extreme, but something will have to happen organizationally for Kolb to become the Eagles starting quarterback.
"Donovan is a stud. If he stays healthy, he's going to continue to be here," Kolb said. "He's a great player. If he stays healthy and nothing goes wrong, and he keeps playing the way he is there's not going to be a problem here.
"So something will have to happen here, but you can't predict the future, and they [Eagles organization] couldn't afford to be left empty-handed. It's going to be interesting to see what happens, but whatever happens I'm just going to keep playing ball and try to stay focused on what's real, and hopefully it will turn out right."
What's real at this point is the transition he's making to the NFL. Life as an NFL rookie is very demanding and challenging, and for Kolb, it's all been a whirlwind thus far.
"I am pretty satisfied with my progress," he said. "I am just going to keep grinding; just getting better. I just can't stalemate. I just got to keep pushing and stay in my playbook.
"It's tough for a rookie and we all know that. I just got to keep on getting better and exceed every expectation."
|The former publisher of NFLDraftPro.com, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. He's also covered the NFL Draft for the Eagles' official website, PhiladelphiaEagles.com.|