STILLWATER — For my story about Brandon Weeden getting selected by the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the NFL Draft, I tried to bring you inside the moment when he got the phone call and saw his name announced by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
But there's plenty more to share about that night at the Weeden crib. Let me empty my notebook ...
I arrive at the Edmond home of Robbie and Sharie Weeden around 6:45 Thursday evening, where I'm met by a crowd of about 20-25 people munching on barbecue. I ask Brandon how he's feeling, and he tells me his emotions are similar to the good kind of jitters he gets on game day. Then I ask if he's confident he will come off the board that night, and he says yes. Cleveland seems like the logical spot, and the Browns had just traded up to draft stud Alabama running back Trent Richardson with the No. 3 overall pick. This is when Brandon shares with me that the Browns had taken him and Richardson out to dinner together when they visited Cleveland a few weeks ago.
Weeden settles in on the living room couch — which I can confirm is blue but not snakeskin leather like it may appear in a photo — as the draft begins. Sitting next to Brandon is 5-year-old Gavin Kuykendall, Brandon's little buddy who has had multiple heart surgeries and recently had a pacemaker put in. While ESPN shows Andrew Luck highlights, Brandon points out to Gavin that he “is on the black team” from “that game we played in Arizona.”
Jacksonville trades up to draft Justin Blackmon. As Brandon watches Blackmon walk across the stage, he's beaming. Clearly a proud teammate and friend. Then he comments that he's not at all surprised to see St. Louis immediately trade out of the No. 6 pick. He, and everyone else, knew the Rams were high on JB.
How do you clear out a house full of people? Tell them ESPN wants to do a live interview. Everyone goes outside while The Worldwide Leader asks Brandon about what the Jags will get in Blackmon.
Brandon knows his name won't be called for a while, so he starts to mingle. His interest is piqued, though, when the Arizona Cardinals take Michael Floyd with the No. 13 overall pick. That's good news for Brandon, because he knew Cleveland was targeting Floyd at wide receiver if he fell to No. 22.
I start chatting with Brandon's grandmother. She's more nervous than him. “I can't wait for this to be over,” she tells me. She then says she's never known anyone as calm as Brandon, and that it used to make her angry when OSU Mike Gundy misinterpreted that relaxed demeanor as Brandon not caring about football.
At around pick No. 20, Brandon comes back into the house. He's still visiting with friends and family and taking pictures and such, but he's noticeably hovering closer to the television and clutching his phone.
Then he looks at his phone and answers it.
How do you make a full house of people shut up? Have an NFL team call and tell you they're about to draft you.
The phone call lasts about five minutes. Maybe less. Later, we'd learn Brandon spoke to Browns general manager Tom Heckert, coach Pat Shurmur and president Mike Holmgren. In the background, Brandon's guests are whispering to each other, smiling, giving the “thumbs up” sign and finding other quiet ways to express their excitement.
You know what happens after that.
I literally have “Woooo!” written in my notes. That comes from Brandon sometime after the first round of hugs. “I'm shaking” also comes out of his mouth at some point.
Brandon is also a master at the fist pump. One comes after the phone call. Another comes when he's officially selected.
Right after Brandon is picked, I rush into a small office where the media types are set up to file a quick story for the web. This is also where Brandon's agent, Sean Howard, has been periodically going to get away from the noise of the crowd. While in there, Howard gets a phone call. It's the Houston Texans saying they are going to draft Whitney Mercilus, another one of Howard's clients, with the No. 26 overall pick. Howard is psyched.
Time to set up for another live ESPN interview. But as Brandon is getting an IFB earpiece (the thing that allows him to hear the questions), put in, he's interrupted. Know those caller IDs that can be set up to pop up on the upper left corner of the television screen? It says “Cleveland Browns.” That was pretty wild.
While Brandon retreats to a quieter room to work out the details of his trip to Cleveland the next day, Champagne is popped in the kitchen. Brandon returns a few minutes later, apologizes to the ESPN camera crew and does the interview.
Following a session with some local media — where I see calm, cool Brandon get emotional for, really, the first time ever — he does a one-on-one interview with the Golf Channel. Yes, the Golf Channel is here.
Then it's time for Brandon's family and friends to continue to celebrate — and for me to go update my story. I thank the Weedens for their hospitality and for inviting me into their home to capture a special moment.
People around these parts already know this, but the Browns are getting a good one.