It's hard to imagine the emotions that E.J. Manuel felt when he was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the first round.
The Florida State product was surprisingly the first quarterback taken. He went with the 16th pick. That's great, but that was only part of the story.
By the time he reached Deion Sanders for an interview after meeting commissioner Roger Goodell, he was crying and had to compose himself. Manuel's mother Jackie battled breast cancer during last season. In February, she found out she was cancer free.
And as Manuel took everything in right after he was drafted, all of the emotions left him overwhelmed.
"It's been tough because as a football player you just want to focus on football but when you're mother is sick – she's doing better now – you think about the journey," Manuel told Sanders. "From when I was a kid, the ups and the downs, everything. When this moment comes, you get that call, it's just amazing. I'm just so happy."
Jackie Manuel was in New York with her son for the draft. Even though most mock drafts didn't have Manuel in the first round, Jackie and E.J. Manuel must have maintained belief that he would be taken on Thursday, because there they were when his name was called.
That isn't surprising. Throughout all her battles, Jackie Manuel kept positive and wanted E.J. to do the same. Manuel had some ups and downs at Florida State last year, but very few people knew about his mother's breast cancer. That news wasn't made public until late in the season.
E.J. Manuel told NFL Network that his mother implored him to concentrate on what he had to do last season, even as she was fighting cancer.
"She's dealing with breast cancer and she's being positive on the phone and helping me through the season," Manuel said. "It was never about her, it was always about making sure I was OK, and everybody else was good."
For Manuel's long journey the past few months to end with a first-round selection, no wonder the tears were flowing.
"Words can't explain how I feel right now," he told NFL Network.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Jackie Manuel
- breast cancer