Scooby Wright was trying to kill time all day. Waiting. Waiting. His football future hanging in the balance.
The Cleveland Browns were using up most of the NFL deadline -- 4 p.m. ET -- to make 20 cuts to reduce their roster. Wright, a late seventh-round pick from Arizona, was on the bubble. The Browns had to shed one inside linebacker. Would it be Scooby?
His parents were in town. His mom, Annette, was up at 6 a.m. His dad, Philip, was awake soon after. Waiting. Waiting. Has the clock moved?
No news really was good news. At least that is what they kept telling themselves.
"Talk about stress. Boy," Phillip said. "Brutal. Brutal last couple of days here."
The family went to breakfast. They took a drive to the mall. Their phones buzzed with messages from friends. "Stop calling!" the Wrights implored. "We're waiting for THE call."
When it came, about 30 minutes before the deadline, Scooby didn't know what to make of it.
As they were leaving the mall, Scooby got a text message from the team. It was Monday's practice schedule.
"What does that mean?" he asked.
He replied to the group message, saying that he was just a rookie and wanted to make sure it meant what he hoped it meant. Nobody replied back. "I was like, 'OK, s---," he told TucsonNewsNow.com.
He texted someone in player personnel who told him to keep his phone ready.
And then, as he was driving, he got the official, official word from the general manager. No more waiting. Yes, Scooby, show up to practice Monday. Don't be late.
His emotions in that moment?
"It's been a long year," he answered.
"It was a long year. We opened last year on Sept. 3, so it was exactly to the day that I tore my meniscus in that game. That is when everything flipped over for me."
Wright missed the next two games, tried to come back too soon for the Pac-12 opener against UCLA, suffering a foot injury that kept him out until the New Mexico Bowl. He went from winning the Bednarik and Nagurski awards in 2014 as the top defender in college football, to a guy who had to prove himself all over again.
The former two-star high school recruit nearly went undrafted, but then he worked him way up from third-string inside linebacker in camp to the final roster.
"It was the hardest thing I ever had to do," he said of Browns camp, "because you never really know where you stand. Everybody is really standoffish, because you're competing with everybody. That was weird."
Wright said diminished time in the first three preseason games, the last of which is the final tune-up for the veterans. In Friday night's game against the Chicago Bears, Wright saw his most time.
As is their tradition, Phil texted Scooby, in the locker room before the game.
"I said, 'You know, this is your bowl game of life. Give it your all,'" Phil said. "I kept it simple."
Wright took advantage of the opportunity with a sack and a fourth-down stuff at the goal line.
Scooby Wright makes a play on 4th and goal to prevent TD...that's how to make a case for making a team.. pic.twitter.com/RRKIYDplDY— Mike Woellert (@Mike_Woellert) September 2, 2016
"I was exhausted on that play," he said. "I had just got done doing special teams, and it was a long drive. I was catching my wind. I was like, 'All right, I have to go out and bear down.'"
After the game, he told his dad: "I did all I could tonight."
It was enough.
Phil said the family spent part of the day thinking Scooby might get traded. If the Browns had released him, he almost certainly would have been claimed by another team. Cleveland would have not had a chance to bring Wright back on the practice squad. (Phil declined to name the team, but said the family knew one particular team was ready to pick him up off waivers.)
But now he's a Brown. The Dawg Pound will be barking for Scooby, bound to be a fan favorite.
"They just love a blue-collar guy in this town," Scooby said.
Scooby is one of 11 former Arizona Wildcats on NFL rosters. Here is the list:
Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Chicago Bears
Marquis Flowers, LB, Bengals
Nick Foles, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
Nick Folk, K, New York Jets
Robert Golden, S, Pittsburgh Steelers
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
Earl Mitchell, DT, Miami Dolphins
Will Parks, S, Denver Broncos
Brooks Reed, LB, Atlanta Falcons
Trevin Wade, DB, New York Giants
Scooby Wright, LB, Browns
Reggie Gilbert, DE, Green Bay Packers
Austin Hill, WR, St. Louis Rams
Cayleb Jones, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Dan Pettinato, DT, Houston Texans
David Richards, WR, Los Angeles Rams
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