Free-agent route not always bad
Saturday had to be a tough day for Henry Hynoski.
He waited all day to hear his name called in the NFL draft.
It never happened.
It was the day he figured to go. The 6-foot, 257-pounder had received indications from his agent, from teams, that he would fall somewhere in the range of rounds four through seven on the draft's final day.
But the draft, this year, and most years, for that matter, is filled with strange twists and turns.
is never a sure-fire guarantee of a job, much less success, in pro football.
Not being drafted is never a sure-fire sign that opportunity has passed you by.
And that's where Hynoski, a bruising fullback from the University of Pittsburgh via Elysburg and Southern Columbia, has to put his focus.
NFL rosters are full of players who, for a long laundry list of reasons, were bypassed on draft day. More than a handful of them are household names, at least among NFL fans.
Some of them, like London Fletcher, have been steady players for years.
Currently a member of the Washington Redskins, Fletcher came out of John Carroll University, a small private school in Ohio, in 1997. Overlooked in the draft, he signed with the Rams, and has also spent time with the Bills.
In his long career, he's been a Super Bowl champion, played in two pro bowls, made more than 1,300 tackles, 28 sacks and 14 interceptions.
There are others too.
Eagles' offensive tackle Jason Peters, another two-time pro-bowler, was signed by the Bills as an undrafted free agent out of Arkansas in 2004. Quarterback Jake Delhomme, undrafted out of Louisiana-Lafayette, spent three seasons in now-defunct NFL Europe before signing with the Saints. His career totals show more than 17,000 passing yards and 115 touchdown passes.
Kicker Adam Vinatieri toiled at South Dakota State, was undrafted in 1996 before signing with the Patriots. Now with the Colts, he's kicked game-winning field goals in two super bowls.
Then there are some really big names.
Jets wide receiver Wayne Chrebet, with 580 catches over 11 seasons, was never drafted.
Neither was Priest Holmes, he of the 8,172 rushing yards and 86 touchdowns, nor quarterback Kurt Warner, the Northern Iowa product who made his way to the NFL, three super bowls, 28,000 passing yards and 182 touchdown passes via the Arena Football League.
Then there is a guy named Warren Moon. Established all kinds of records at the University of Washington before heading to the Canadian Football League when the NFL passed him by.
After winning five Grey Cup championships north of the border, he made his way to the NFL where he proceeded to pass for more than 49,000 yards and 291 touchdowns. He entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
Certainly, guys like these are exceptions, rathern than the rule.
But NFL rosters have 43 players, and seasons are long and grueling. The point is, there are opportunities.
So it will be interesting to see where Hynoski lands. It's a safe bet someone has a free agent contract waiting for him, although the current labor situation with the on-again, off-again lockout may cloud the situation, at least for a time.
Wherever it may be, we wish him well.
(Roth is sports editor)