Every Down, Every Distance: My Journey To The NFL

ISBN 10: 0385496303 / ISBN 13: 9780385496308
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Synopsis: The NFL's most popular wide receiver tells the remarkable and inspirational story of how he went from an undrafted walk-on to an everyman hero and star of the New York Jets.

Growing up in hardscrabble Garfield, New Jersey, Wayne Chrebet was always too small or too slow or too something to be taken seriously as a football player. And even after an impressive career in high school, he wasn't even a blip on the recruiting radar screens of the big-time college programs.

Instead, Wayne went to Hofstra University in Long Island without a scholarship. Mom and Dad paid the eighteen-thousand-dollar-a-year tuition, and Wayne held up his end of the deal by earning a degree while setting record after record on the football field. But even after tying an NCAA mark held by Jerry Rice, Wayne's name was not called during the 1995 NFL draft. Undaunted, Wayne dedicated himself to being ready if and when he got the chance to prove the skeptics wrong.

Four remarkable years and hundreds of catches later, Wayne has been singled out as one of the key ingredients that turned the Jets from laughingstock to Super Bowl contender. His secret is simple. He plays as if every down and every distance to go were his last.

Full of inspiration, motivation, and charm, Every Down, Every Distance is the perfect book for football fans who root for the underdog.

Review: The astonishing thing about wide receiver Wayne Chrebet's young career with the New York Jets has nothing to do with his 75 catches in 1998 or his 18 career TDs going into the 1999 season. It's that he has a career in the NFL at all.

Chrebet is the prototypical sports overachiever, the guy who's told at every stop that he's too small, too slow, too this, too that, but his secret is he never listens. He just goes out and proves them wrong. A standout football and basketball star in high school, no major college took notice. At Division 1-AA Hofstra College, he caught five TD passes in his final game to tie one of Jerry Rice's records, and the pros turned the other cheek. "I just wanted a chance," Chrebet writes poignantly. "I'm the kind of guy, if you give me a crack, I'm going to turn it into the Grand Canyon." On draft day, no cracks appeared. Chrebet stared at the TV in agony as, round after round, team after team passed him by. Inconceivably, he watched a receiver who missed the entire college season with a broken leg get the call--"At least I have two healthy legs here"--while his own phone is ominously silent. "None of them thought I was good enough."

Which, in all good prototypical-sports-overachiever tales, is just what Chrebet needs for inspiration and incentive. At last, the sad-sack Jets--perfect irony for Chrebet, a lifelong Giants fan--leave the door slightly ajar, and the rest is history. Of the receivers who entered the NFL in 1995, including the 31 draftees, Chrebet's stats put him second. His team, after years in the doldrums, is a contender again. "If you're given the opportunity," he stresses, "you might as well take advantage of it." Every Down, Every Distance is a nice example of what can happen when you do. --Jeff Silverman

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