Brett Heller is a lucky kid. Last Friday, he received a call from a private number on his cell phone. As policy, those calls go ignored. Fortunately, on Monday, Brett decided to break his rule. When he finally picked up his phone, he found out he won Verizon's 2012 Draft Dream Sweepstakes.
"Usually I don't pick up private numbers, but I didn't look at the phone, so I got lucky that way." Brett said. "I was just in disbelief, like is this really real? It didn't sink in until Monday or Tuesday, and it just worked out."
That's why he looked so nervous standing in the lobby of his Times Square hotel, just under two hours before the start of night two of the NFL Draft. The native from East Islip, NY had the opportunity to announce the Giants third round pick in front of a packed Radio City Music Hall and every NFL fan watching the draft on ESPN and NFL Network.
Brett's journey began only a couple months ago. After getting picked up after arriving home from Spring Break, his mother picked him up from the airport. On the way home, she had to pick up a phone for his father at a local Verizon store. "I was really tired and I was really bored, so I walked up to a kiosk and had ten minutes, put in my info and here I am."
Growing up in East Islip, and attending Stony Brook University, only an hour from New York City, he has been to Manhattan a lot but never to Radio City Music. Now on his first trip to the historic venue, he'll be standing on the stage, with all eyes on him as his voice echoes throughout the auditorium.
"I haven't been practicing because I don't want to think about it." said a nervous Brett, "I just want to go up there and see what happens." He hopes the Giants throw him a bone and draft someone with a name easy on the tongue. "I haven't looked at the names, but I've looked at names from the past, like last year would have been bad with Prince Amukamara. Good thing I wasn't doing it seven years ago because I just figured out how to say Kiwanuka. I'm hoping it's a Jim Wilson or something like that."
Brett had a tough act to follow, with former Giants Michael Strahan announcing the team's third round pick. A seasoned broadcaster for Fox, Strahan announced Rueben Randle perfectly.
"It gave me a little more confidence." Brett said. "I was paying a lot of attention and I caught a couple of blunders and I said to myself, at least I didn't do that."
In a non-football obsessed family, Brett helped turn his household into Giants fans. He unintentionally got stuck watching the Giants-Packers playoff game with a hoard of Packers fans in Key West, but survived the environment and enjoyed the Giants victory that sent them to the NFC Championship Game. The Super Bowl was even better. "I lost my voice for a week. I could tell you all my favorite moments of the season but we would need a half hour."
Brett's moment on the mic lasted only seconds, but he announced "With the 94th pick of the draft, the Giants select Jayron Hosely, defensive back out of Virginia Tech" flawlessly.
"I was kinda nervous, but I hung out with Roger Goodell for a minute or two backstage." Brett said. "He was a nice guy." Brett said. "He made some jokes with me about how I could mess up. When I saw the name, I going through some of the ones before hands, ones I would have a harder time with, and I was happy it was something I could say."
The experience was even better than Brett imagined it would be. "I didn't expect the VIP treatment. Everyone that I was working with was very nice. You don't know what to expect. You see these people on TV and you never know, but they were all very nice people."
It was very different than watching the draft on TV for Brett. "Usually, I have a pick and like 'Oh a defensive back', and I look him up and see who he is. I didn't even realize he was a defensive back until seven minutes after I said it."
It was another successful draft day for the Giants, but also one that Brett Heller will never forget.