News from the Tennessee Valley Sports
SUNDAY, APRIL 29, 2007

Tide’s Simpson watches, waits for 2nd-day call

By Josh Cooper · 340-2460

Saturday was a day of celebration for friends and family of former Alabama linebacker Juwan Simpson, an Austin High graduate.

Well-wishers stopped by Simpson’s house in Decatur to be with him, joke around with him and keep him company.

The reason? The NFL draft, which completed the first day of selections Saturday with the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Simpson still not receiving a call. Saturday included the first three rounds, while the last four will take place Sunday.

But Simpson said he was not discouraged and was looking forward to day two, where he expects to go in either in the fourth or fifth rounds.

“I was upset for a slight minute, because there are guys who I thought I was better than who got drafted,” Simpson said. “But I had planned to be a second-day pick.”

During the first two rounds, Simpson horsed around with his siblings, played some basketball in his driveway and accommodated all his guests by talking with them and thanking them for showing up.

It was his way to release some energy, while also taking his mind off the draft.

At one point, Simpson’s agent, Birmingham-based Kirk Wood, looked at his client playing basketball in the driveway and jokingly said, “You better not get injured.

Simpson just smiled and stopped playing after a few more jump shots.

His family had the television set permanently tuned to ESPN. Chairs were set up for viewing.

A grand feast was also available for visitors.

Dreamland ribs, potato salad, banana pudding. But the biggest hit of the day was the meatballs, made by Simpson’s aunt, Eva Owens.

“My family has done a great job,” Simpson said. “They have helped me keep my head up. It’s easy to get down on a day like today.”

As the day turned into night, Simpson got a little more tense.

While Simpson and his agent were rooting for linebackers to get picked — thinking that the more linebackers who get picked early, the higher Simpson would go — Simpson would get a bit annoyed if players got picked whom he thought he was better than.

When linebacker Michael Okwo of Stanford went to the Bears with the 95th pick, followed by Clemson linebacker Anthony Waters to the Chargers with the 97th pick, there was a quick look of disdain on Simpson’s face.

But when he saw his friends and family sitting behind him, he appeared at ease again.

“Tomorrow will be a more hectic and nervous day,” Simpson said. “Today was a day to celebrate me and my accomplishments.”

Then came the most disappointing news. “There will be no meatballs,” he added. “But there still will be ribs left over.

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