No. 56 pick can decide: Hall of Fame — or Shame?


The Seattle Seahawks don’t figure to be first-round players in the NFL draft, which begins Thursday and will run, well, longer than the typical human brain is wired to tolerate.Any war room occupied by John Schneider and Pete Carroll is capable of startling the world’s burgeoning population of draft pundits — see “Irvin, Bruce” — but given salary-cap restrictions and the duo’s penchant for identifying fiscally fit contributors after Round 1, it’s almost certain the Seahawks will use their first selection on the 56th overall pick.If tradition holds, this much can be expected Friday: • You either know little about him, or nothing at all. Do the names Mike Neal, Tim Crowder and Chris Chester ring a bell? Each has been taken at No. 56 since 2006. • He’ll be a cinch to make the roster. The last No. 56 pick denied a spot on an NFL team — McNeese State center James Files, chosen by the Steelers — was in 1976, when 17 rounds were squeezed into two days. In other words, the draft’s Paleolithic Era. • If this year’s 56th pick someday is voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it’ll be historic. Since the inaugural 1936 draft, no 56th pick has so much as merited consideration. Tackle Fred Williams participated in four Pro Bowls after he was drafted in 1952, but Williams had to settle for a more modest legacy: second-most accomplished former University of Arkansas defensive lineman behind Dan Hampton to play on a Bears championship team. • Speaking of the Pro Bowl, held annually since 1950: Six players chosen 56th have made it, which puts the chances of the next 56th choice of making it at about 1 in 10. The only active 56th choice with Pro Bowl experience is defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who recently signed with the Falcons as a free agent after adecade with the Giants. • The 56th selection of the draft will be recalled as somebody whose NFL career tragically ended, or somebody whose NFL career served as a springboard for a lucrative livelihood beyond football, or somebody, more likely, who was able to hang on for a few years before ceding his place in the circle of pro-football life to a younger, healthier replacement.No story of a 56th selection is more heartbreaking than that of Darrent Williams. The Broncos’ starting cornerback, a 2005 pick out of Oklahoma State, had been celebrating New Year’s Eve in downtown Denver with some teammates and friends when he was fatally wounded by a gunshot early on the morning of Jan. 1, 2007. A passenger in a rented limo, Williams has a depressingly familiar epitaph: He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.Williams lost his life in a split second. Dave Pear, a former University of Washington defensive tackle selected at No. 56 by the Colts in 1975, lost any definition of a normal life after he suffered a herniated disc in his neck and continued to play for the Raiders. Pear picked up a Super Bowl ring after the 1980 season, and he hasn’t picked up much of anything since.Pear has endured several surgeries that have turned the simple task of waking up and getting out of bed into a challenge. He suffers from vertigo and memory loss.“I wish I never had played football,” Pear told Sports Illustrated in 2008. “I wish that more than anything. I want to take back those years of my life.”

via No. 56 pick can decide: Hall of Fame — or Shame? | Seattle Seahawks – The News Tribune.