DraftAmerica recently spoke with former NFL standout Terrell Buckley, a 14-year veteran who made stops in Green Bay, Miami, Denver, New England, and New York. Buckley was often a fan favorite and now is the assistant strength coach at his alma mater of Florida State. His daughter is an up-and-coming high school golfer in the South Florida area, as recently featured in the Miami Herald. Buckley discussed several aspects of football with DA, including his draft day experience back in 1992 and his experience being teammates with three Hall of Fame quarterbacks.
DA: So what was life like leading up to the 1992 NFL draft?
TB: It’s funny. I knew it was going to be between one and seven. I mean I had worked out with all the top teams there. Dallas had the 14th pick, and we knew they were going to try to trade up on draft day. Cincinnati, who had the sixth pick, they came to Mississippi. I only [visited] two places, Dallas and Washington. I didn’t visit Indianapolis, I didn’t visit the Rams. I really didn’t want to go that far. I was still in school trying to take classes during that time, so I had some trouble with my schedule. My schedule was pretty tight.
DA: What did you do on the day of the draft?
TB: I didn’t fly to New York. I wanted to stay home and share it with my family. I had rented a cottage on the lake and all my family, friends, coaches, all the people that had an influence and helped me came over with me. It was great.
DA: And how about when you heard your name called?
TB: It was kind of relief and excitement and I felt like it was the start of something new.
DA: The start of something special.
TB: For me, I always go back to Pop Warner. And getting drafted was the start of something that’s… it’s hard to get there, it’s hard to stay there, [all] that time, and to make kind of a career out of it that’s darn near impossible. So, a lot of milestones there.
DA: You’ve played with some of the best players ever to set foot on the playing field. What were some of those relationships like?
TB: Let me tell you, I had some great teammates. The greatest one of all was probably the late Reggie White. And, you know, Dan Marino, Brett Favre, Tom Brady, and a host of other guys. O.J. McDuffie down here [in Miami], Bryan Cox… I mean, I really can say I only had a few bad apples in 14 years, bad teammates. 95% of them were great. And Dan, I was probably closer to him and, quarterback-wise, Tom and [Chad] Pennington. Just great guys.
DA: You obviously played with Dan the longest, what insight can you give us on that?
TB: It’s funny, I had to sit by Dan on the bus, and same thing with Tom. We used to end up talking, and strategizing, and what’s the quarterback thinking, and what’s the DB thinking in these situations. So that’s how I always thought it ends up developing into a friendship.
DA: Take me back to 2001. You joined the Patriots as a free agent and after two games it seemed like more of the same for a struggling franchise. Then Mo Lewis changes history and knocks out Drew Bledsoe and in comes little-known Tom Brady. Did you have any idea the rest of that year would unfold the way it did?
TB: Nobody knew. Everybody wants to take the credit. He was a good, solid player that we thought was going to go in and throw a few balls, and Drew was going to come back and take over. But as it went on, it started to show [that he was the real deal]. But I don’t think anybody knew.
DA: Ironically that wasn’t the first time you witnessed a significant change at the helm.
TB: My first game [with Green Bay in ’92]. Magic Man [then-Packers quarterback Don Majkowski] hurt his ankle and Brett came in and… almost like Tom Brady with Drew Bledsoe, kind of the same situation I had in New England, so it was kind of weird. Most of the time guys have the skills, sometimes it’s the system, the coaches. One of those things that can derail a guy or send a guy to heights unknown.
DA: Let’s come back to the here and now. Brett is 40 and trying to go against New England on a fractured ankle. Are you in awe of how he’s still getting it done at this age?
TB: The way the game has changed, I would say in the past year, the way they protect the quarterbacks and all that, it’s not as amazing as it was in the past, but it’s still pretty impressive. But stuff like that, that shows the grit and the toughness. But… who knows. They’re saying on a fractured ankle a guy’s better than the guy who’s healthy? That remains to be seen. And you know [New England] is going to bring it. You’re hurt. Hey, we’re going to see. It’s going to be very interesting.
DA: Last question: should Tom Brady cut his hair?
TB: His wife doesn’t think so, and that’s the only person that matters.