Further Review

Steve Hummer's Further Review blog offers comments, asides and quick hits on the state of sports

Falcons first pick: "I just want to be able to help out"

Sat down for a bit Friday with Falcons first-round pick Takkarist McKinley. And for the record, he never once cussed. Don’t let those non-FCC-approved words he dropped on Thursday night’s NFL draft show be an indelible first impression. He doesn’t always work blue.

Here are some snippets from the pass-rush end out of UCLA that weren’t included in the weekend profile. All rated PG, in fact:

McKinley’s wildly emotional reaction to being drafted was the most raw, real episode during the whole over-blown draft telecast. He’ll always be known as that kid who brought the large framed photo of his grandmother – the woman who raised him after being abandoned by his parents – to the stage with him.

So, how, we wondered, would his grandmother have reacted to the salty language he employed during his interaction with the commissioner and NFL Network interview with Deion Sanders?

“She would have been mad that I cursed on live TV,” he said. “But realistically she would have been real happy for me. She would have been back in the green room shedding tears just like everyone else in my family.

“She cursed her own self. But she knew there are places you can curse and places you can’t curse. Live TV. She would have said, ‘What are you doing?’”

On how his personal allegiances must change now (it seems he was a big Cam Newton fan; a quarterback he’ll now be hunting twice each season): “I was a huge Carolina fan growing up. Got to throw all my gear away, throw all the jerseys away, all the signed autographs, everything’s got to go. It’s about who I’m with now – that’s the Falcons.”

On watching the New England-Falcons Super Bowl: “I thought it was over. Turned it off at 28-3. I started wearing my favorite show, ‘SpongeBob SquarePants.’” Checking the score on his phone, McKinley picked up on the fact that the game was swinging the other way and went back to it late in the fourth quarter.

“That’s in the past now. I just want to help the team get back there and win.”

On continuing to play at UCLA through a serious shoulder injury for more than a season – he had surgery earlier this year: “I knew something was wrong with it. I basically told the trainers just tape me up. I can play. There was some pain. But in the NFL, everyone plays with pain. Everyone is going to have some injuries dealing with the rest of their lives. A little torn shoulder wasn’t going to stop me from completing my promise to my grandma (to make it in football).”

And, finally, on what he aims to initially bring to the Falcons: “The pieces are already there for this team. I just want to be able to help out, help win games however much I can. Whether that’s coming in on a third down package or special teams. Whatever they need me to do, I’m doing it. If I can contribute two percent, three percent to a win, I’m all here for that.

“Ultimately I’m here to get the quarterback.”


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About the Author

Steve Hummer writes sports features for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He covers a wide range of sports and topics.