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After long wait, Nagle's a Jet

 
Published April 22, 1991|Updated Oct. 13, 2005

At 2:14 p.m., the New England Patriots prepared to announce their first-round draft pick. The phone rang and two dozen eyes reached for the Sony cellular next to Browning Nagle. His girlfriend, Jo Adams, grabbed her heart and ran into the kitchen. Could this be? It was a wrong number.

It took hours for that phone to ring again.

And Nagle waited. Sitting on a couch in his parents' home, surrounded by friends, family and cards from well-wishers, Nagle watched the draft on ESPN. On occasion, he'd half-jokingly check the phone's dial tone.

Nagle, a Pinellas Park High School graduate who recently starred for the University of Louisville, became one of the best quarterback prospects in the draft.

New England, however, drafted an offensive tackle. The next team supposedly looking for a quarterback was Atlanta. The Falcons chose a receiver.

The Patriots then traded for the 14th pick. New England needs a quarterback. "But they also need a running back," said Nagle, walking away from the TV.

New England picked a running back.

Seattle wanted a quarterback and, with the 16th pick, chose San Diego State's Dan McGwire, the first quarterback selected.

Pre-draft analysts figured both McGwire and Southern Mississippi quarterback Brett Favre to be drafted higher than 16th, leaving Nagle to the Seahawks.

"I thought I had a chance with Seattle," Nagle said. "Now we'll see what happens."

What happened next was surprising. The Raiders chose 24th and picked Southern California quarterback Todd Marinovich. Favre figured to go before Nagle, but not the young and controversial Marinovich.

The 49ers next chose Nagle's Louisville teammate, defensive lineman Ted Washington, a Tampa Bay Vo-Tech grad. The Bills and Giants completed the first round, neither with quarterback picks.

"I had anticipated the first round," Nagle said later. "I felt my talent matched up with any of those quarterbacks that were picked. I'm not going to tell you I'm not disappointed, because I am."

Nagle's best bet in the second round was either Atlanta (sixth pick) or the Jets (seventh pick), who didn't have a first-round selection. Nagle said he had a good visit with the Jets two weeks ago.

Atlanta chose Favre.

Nagle waited for the Jets' call. It didn't come, and New York was about to announce its selection. Those around Nagle slumped their shoulders.

At 5:33 p.m., the Jets announced their choice: Browning Nagle.

The Jets finally called minutes later, then the phone never stopped ringing. Media and friends flooded the lines, and Nagle tried to talk amid his family's noisy celebration.

Nagle wore a New York Jets cap, no longer speaking of what round he was drafted in, but of his new, wonderful opportunity.

"Sitting in front of the TV and watching all those players go in front of you, the pride gets involved," Nagle said. "I was getting really nervous. If I didn't go with the Jets, it could have been the third round. Now I'm very, very excited to be with the Jets because I am their first pick."