Thompson, Griffin have strong work ethic in commonPosted: Friday April 25, 2003 12:13 AM
Updated: Friday April 25, 2003 12:21 AM
This is the fifth in a series as SI.com follows West Texas A&M linebacker Chaun Thompson in the weeks leading up to the 2003 NFL Draft.
By B. Duane Cross, SI.com
It's a matter of mere hours before the 2003 NFL Draft commences, and agent Jeff Griffin and partner Jack Scharf of Momentum Sports Group are anxious.
"Intriguing," says Griffin. "That's the word most often used to describe Chaun.
"But that can be a double-edged sword. It basically means that there are unknowns about him. It can be a negative or it can be a positive -- like teams can't wait to see what he can do. I think of it, in Chaun's case, in a positive sense."
And what's not to be positive about? After a stellar four-year career at West Texas A&M, Chaun Thompson beat the small-school odds and received an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine in February. Since then, it's been a blur of flights, hotel rooms and face-to-face interviews with potential employers.
"On Dec. 11, an AFC scout saw Chaun at 223 pounds run a 4.44" in the 40-yard dash, recalls Griffin. "We sent Chaun to San Diego to work out and then he turns up in Indianapolis at 240 pounds and still had his speed.
"It just goes to show that Chaun is willing to work at all costs for this, his dream. He added 20 pounds, kept his speed and he has 34 1/2-inch arms -- all of that is what teams find intriguing."
When the combine began, Thompson had three interviews with teams scheduled. After his workout, which included 29 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press, the buzz began. By the time Thompson left Indy, he'd met with almost every team in the league.
"Even at the airport, when he was flying home, teams were huddling up with Chaun," says Griffin. "He was almost late for his flight because he was talking with teams."
Still, as the anxiety builds, Griffin remains steadfast that Thompson's name will get called on the first day of the draft.
"To be brutally honest, everything I've heard is that Chaun will get taken Saturday," says Griffin. "One AFC team has talked with Chaun, interviewed him and sent someone to conduct a background check. There's a lot of interest there."
As for Thompson, he's resigned to relaxing and letting the weekend unfold.
"I'm not nervous," he says. "I just want to get it over, though."
Both Griffin and Thompson, who were introduced by Griffin's brother Michael, who also played at West Texas, say they've done all they can. It's up to the teams now.
"Griff works hard," says Thompson. "He tells you what he's going to do and then does it. And he really cares about people; you can see that in him. He does the little things, like if he says he's going to call at 10, the phone is ringing at 9:58.
"A lot of the other players that I met at the Combine, or when visiting teams, say they talk to their agent once a week, even once a month. Me, I talk with Griff three, four times a day -- and we always laugh and have fun when we talk. It's a lot like just hanging out."
Griffin recalls how his brother told him of Thompson -- "We've got a guy down here, he's cool and all off the field, but he's a beast on it" -- and says his first meeting with Thompson was casual, in passing.
"Our first meeting," says Griffin, "wasn't to talk about football. But the first thing that struck me was Chaun's character. Chaun was real quiet, and then we started talking on the phone more often.
"There's nothing false about Chaun," he continues. "He's humble and appreciative. He's always saying 'Thank you,' and 'Yes sir,' or 'No sir.' He's really friendly -- and when he talks to you, his eyes don't come off you.
"Like my brother told me, he's a great kid."
The fact Griffin wasn't an in-your-face acquaintance wasn't lost on Thompson. "Even though he gets a piece of my [contract] money, we became friends before I was his client. He treated me as a friend first, and that was important."
For his part, Thompson will watch the draft with his parents, who are divorced. "It's the first time they'll be in the same room since," he notes. "That really means a lot to me, that they're back together -- not to get married again or anything -- just that they're here for me.
"I'm just going to sit back with my family and friends and wait for the phone to ring ... just waiting to see my name on TV."
Once that happens, all the anxious moments will have been worth the hard work.