Let’s start with the night before. My parents, two brothers, both sets of grandparents and many others traveled with me to New York, and they were with me in the hotel.
I can remember being in my room and not being able to sleep. The thoughts that ran through my head were very specific: How would I handle it when my name was called? Would I cry? I certainly thought that seeing my family and knowing that one of us made it would be more than enough to draw a few tears. Would I just be excited and play it cool, acting like I’ve been there before even though I hadn’t?
But before I knew it, the longest night in my life up to that point had finally come to an end.
To start the day, I went to the hotel room of Dave Williams — my trusted barber and friend — to get my hair cut. We reminisced while he was doing his thing on my hair.
Dave was and still is the best barber in Pittsburgh. He’s been cutting hair for the Steelers since I was a child. On draft day, we talked about the first time my dad ever took me to the shop in the fourth grade. It was very difficult to get an appointment with Dave because he was always booked. For some reason, when he saw me he took to me right away and that was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. So we went through grade school, middle school, high school, college and my announcement for the NFL. We must have spent two or three hours talking about all the people we were close with and we loved from around the way. Getting drafted will do that to you.
We talked about Bruce, Dave’s brother, Jacque, Ice, Heav, Big Bruce, Big Darrel, Tone, Chief — the list goes on. Some still are with us, some are gone.
What made the conversation so significant was all of them protected me and always said “you the one that’s gonna make it.” They’d tell me if they ever caught me messing up, I wouldn’t have to worry about the police. They’d get me first.
During the conversation, I went into the bathroom and cried until I had no more tears. It hit me: All of the time, hard work and people who believed in me had brought me to this day, this moment where everything that anyone ever said or did for me, that moment when they called my name — we all did it.
I finished my cut, ate only a light meal because I had a bad case of the nerves and then went and got dressed. Then I met up with my family and we traveled to the green room, laughing and joking on the way.
When we walked into the green room near the stage, I had to sit down because the feeling had started to leave my legs. I knew I would be picked by the Washington Redskins, and I was excited because D.C. was the place and team I wanted to play for. I remember looking at my mom and dad and smiling at them. As they smiled back, the pride I felt at that moment almost made me break down again. Of course, other players were around so I sucked it up and pushed past it.
The phone finally rang. It was the Redskins brass asking me if I was ready to join the team. I think that moment got me so pumped up that my emotions immediately went from holding back tears of joy to “I’m ready to rip some heads off in D.C.,” and seconds later my name was announced. I will never forget that moment when I heard my name called. All I could do was thank God for putting all the people in my life who made it all possible. I can remember saying to myself: “Dude from 133 Shannon Drive to Radio City Music Hall, the number two pick in the draft. Dude, you are the number frickin’ two pick in the draft!” I gave hugs and then grabbed my hat and was greeted by an awesome reception by the crowd. My entire family came on stage and for a few minutes we basked in the moment. For me, it was akin to an out-of-body experience, and at least for a second all was perfect in my world.
Maybe RGIII won’t have an emotional conversation while getting his hair cut, but I’m sure his entire life will pass right in front of his eyes during the course of this entire day.
Congratulations Robert Griffin III; you deserve this. Welcome to Washington. I know I speak for a lot of people when I say we wish you all the luck in the world. Welcome to the family and enjoy every moment of this day.
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