So far this year, the Atlanta Falcons have had two moments that brought extremely heightened emotions. The first was the unbelievable loss in Super Bowl LI when they blew a 31-point lead over the New England Patriots to lose a game they had in the freakin’ bag (UGH!). The second came during Thursday night’s NFL Draft when their First Round pick, Takkarist McKinley, went 0-to-100 when the team selected him.
The defensive end from UCLA brought a picture of his beloved grandmother, Myrtle Collins, who raised him in Richmond, Calif., where every day was a ‘hood struggle, but managed to keep him away from drugs, gangs and crime. In 2011, however, she became ill when he was still in high school. He promised her on her deathbed that he would play Division 1 college football and make it to the NFL and the draft became the fulfillment of that promise.
“I told her! Before she passed away, I was going to live my dream! I was gonna go D-1! I was gonna get out of Richmond, I was gonna get out of Oakland! I was gonna go to the NFL! I made that promise to her, man! Thirty seconds later she passed away!”
Holding up the picture to cameras, he exclaimed, “And this is who I do it for! This is who I do it for, man!”
Warning: Some objectionable language.
McKinley was the 26th pick overall in the draft and he enters the NFL as the third rated edge rusher in it, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. He comes behind Myles Garrett who went No. 1 to Cleveland and Derek Barnett, who went No. 14 to the Philadelphia Eagles. He played 34 games for UCLA and started 23 times. He had 17 career sacks for the Bruins.
NFL legend Deion Sanders interviewed McKinley as he took the stage to talk about being picked and the emotions welled over to the point where he uttered a few expletives.
“She means everything, man, it means everything,” he told Sanders. “I completed the promise. That means every f—ing thing to me — excuse my language. Fine me later, man, fine me later! This means everything to me!”
Sanders, who is no stranger to spectacle himself, brought in some calm maturity and advice for the rookie.
“I want you to do something for me,” he said. “I love your passion, I love your intensity, but let’s harness it and channel it in the right direction. Because if you can do that, ain’t nothin’ can stop you,” said Sanders.