Some of the the biggest, most physical athletes in the world crossed the stage at the NFL draft Thursday. But to many of these massive men, the little women back stage were far bigger. “That’s the one that birthed me, that’s the one that disciplined me, took care of me all my life and grinded and struggled for me,” said professed Christian Sammy Watkins, who went fourth to the Buffalo Bills.
The draft at New York’s Radio City Music Hall fell on Mother’s Day weekend, bringing full circle a week in which the NBA’s Kevin Durant delivered a tearful tribute during his MVP speech, calling his mother “the real MVP.” During the most anticipated NFL event since the Super Bowl, players huddled with their families in the green room. Some waited longer than others. But they embraced their families first when their names finally rang through the air.
Jadeveon Clowney, picked No. 1 by the Houston Texans, said his mother “did everything she could to raise me to the young man I am today.” Blake Bortles, the Central Florida quarterback picked third by Jacksonville, called his mother, Suzy, “my hero.”
But for other professed Christians, like Durant and Watkins, Thursday was a chance for the children to rise up and call their mothers blessed. “Oh man, she’s beautiful,” said Khalil Mack, the fifth overall pick, who went to the Oakland Raiders. “Her persistence, her intelligence, and her wisdom. She’s very wise. Her guidance has put me in the position to be able to talk to you.” Mack’s mother, Yolanda, told reporters one of her best memories of her son as a boy was of him waking up at 7 a.m. to watch worship music on television.
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who went to the Minnesota Vikings at No. 32, expressed similar feelings about his “best friend.” For a documentary about Bridgewater, film director Spike Lee talked to one of his mentors. “How much money he makes, he could care less,” said Abe Elam. “Teddy wants to make his mom happy. That’s all he wants to do.”
Bridgewater surprised his mom, a breast cancer survivor, with a pink Cadillac Escalade, provided by the car company, for her birthday on Monday. He had promised her the car when he was 9 years old, long before her fight with breast cancer began in 2007. “When I make it to the NFL,” he had said, he was going to buy her a pink Escalade, right down to the rims.
“She told me that I’m blessed and God blessed me with talent so use it to the best of my ability and take advantage,” Bridgewater said. “She told me to have a purpose in life, and that’s one thing that I take away from her, besides her fight, determination, and sacrifices that she made. To live that purpose out loud.”