Reporting Nate Griffin
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HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – It’s most certain that former Houston Texans linebacker Danny Clark is in New York City rehearsing the line “with the 26th pick of the second round, the Houston Texans select.” You will hear that several times during day one of the NFL Draft from Commissioner Roger Goodell. However, the last two seasons have been a little different.
The NFL announced that 33 highly-regarded NFL alumni, one per team, but two on behalf of the St. Louis Rams, Issac Bruce and Torry Holt, will announce second and third-round draft picks from Radio City Music Hall during Friday’s festivities. The NFL began the process last season.
Twelve-year veteran-linebacker Danny Clark will have the honor of announcing the 26th pick of the second round for the Texans from one of the most famous podiums in the world.
“I am in some great company up there! I am really excited to get up there and see some of my ole guys and represent the Texans well.”
Clark played 12 seasons in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, and Texans. He played with Houston during the 2007 and 2010 seasons.
Clark retired from football after spending the 2011 season with the New Orleans Saints. He is now working full time with the foundation that bears his name, the Danny Clark Foundation. He says he will spend the rest of his days uplifting young people.
WITH THE 26TH PICK OF THE SECOND ROUND…
Clark has an ongoing relationship with the Houston Texans and General Manager Rick Smith who Clark said had no reservations about asking him to represent the Texans.
“I’m excited! My personal experience – it was the best and the worst days of my life. I was predicted to go in the second round, (from Illinois), (by) Mel Kiper – THE EXPERT! For whatever reason, I didn’t get picked until the 245th pick, in the second day, 7th round.”
It was the NFL Draft of 2000 when the draft only lasted two days. The first three rounds were conducted on day one – the last four – day two. Clark recalls how frustrating it was as he waited and waited for his name to be called.
Mind you, this was during a time when Clark did not own a cell phone had the take the calls at his home. Instead of receiving calls from teams to alert him of his new NFL home, the calls were from friends asking when he would be drafted.
“That was a really frustrating day and I went through not only the fourth, fifth, and the sixth rounds. I was nine picks from being Mr. Irrelevant. By the time Jacksonville actually called, it was an uplifting experience to feel like a team wanted you at that point.”
Temporary disappointment – is what Clark felt since he had achieved a great deal of success at Illinois. He started 44 of 45 games at linebacker in 4 seasons and was named honorable mention All-Big Ten three of four seasons. He finished his college career with 384 tackles which is sixth most, just ahead of Pro Football Hall of Famer, Dick Butkus.
“I had a chip big as the State of Texas on my shoulder,” said Clark. “So, I was ready to go and pave my way.”
Clark did that as a 7th rounder making it through 12 training camps to Radio City Music Hall in New York City to announce the Texans second round pick of the NFL Draft.
Meanwhile, Clark will get to visit with one of his childhood heroes just like some of this weekend’s NFL draft picks will get to visit with theirs.
“I get to see one of my heroes, (LB) Otis Wilson! He’s the one that got me to wear number 55. My first year of playing football in 1985 – the ’85 Bears had just won the Superbowl.”
“Otis Wilson was an outside linebacker for the Bears at that time – Monsters of the Midway and I am from Chicago. That’s going to be a big deal to be able to see him again.”
Not only will seeing Wilson be a big deal for Clark, Clark says representing Houston and the Texans well by dressing properly for the occasion will also be a big deal.
“I am wearing a suit of course. I will be representing with the GQ look. New York is the Mecca of fashion and I have a great respect for the fashion community. So, I’ve got to definitely put my best foot forward when getting dressed.”
Clark would not reveal any of his planned fashion secrets for the extravaganza. Yet, he knows he must look the part.
“It’s going to be on national television representing the City (of Houston) and the organization (Texans). I am going to make sure that I represent Houston well.”
MESSAGE TO DRAFT PICKS
Clark has advice for those young men coming into the NFL. He says it’s critical for them to understand that the NFL is a special organization.
“I am thankful for what the game has given to me. It has been a privilege. That’s my advice. If you ask me what my advice is to all the young guys coming up in the draft – it’s – the NFL is a privilege – it’s not a right.”
Remembering those who played in an era of low pay, little exposure, and varying degrees of humility, should never be forgotten, says Clark.
“There are so many guys that broke it down and paved the way for where this game is today and how profitable it is and how marketable it is.”
“Go into the league showing a great deal and amount of respect and know that it’s a fraternity – something that should never be broken and always treat it with respect.”
There’s a good chance that this will be part of the message that Clark delivers to the Texans second round draft pick for sure.