Life Comes Full Circle With BJ Daniels
A lot of people ask me, "how did you get your start?" and my answer is, "with an I-Pad". For my 10th birthday, I got an I-pad and right away I downloaded Instagram. Since I'd been watching football for about three years, I wanted to start having some type of interaction with the players. One thing that constantly stuck out to me on Instagram was these photo edits of my favorite players. I was extremely interested in learning to make these edits, so I did some research. I got a handful of apps on my I-pad and played around with it. My first edits were of guys like Navorro Bowman, Colin Kaepernick, and Vernon Davis; after that it was all about the draft. It started with guys that were at the the top of the class like Eric Fisher and Tavon Austin. After that I went for guys that the 49ers drafted. From round one to round 7 I made a photo edit of every 49er player drafted. This was my world. As a ten year old, it was cool for me to even get a "like" from a high school JV player, so imagine what it would be like for an NFL player to "like" a photo of yours on instagram?
This is where everything starts to get interesting. The 49ers 7th round draft pick was BJ Daniels. Daniels was a quarterback from the University of South Florida. If you get drafted by the 49ers, then you're getting a photo edited by the 10 year old me. Even though I'm sure his phone was blowing up, he was able to find an edit of mine. I remember him "liking" the photo and commenting something like, "let's see another one". I'm paraphrasing of course, but this made my world. I would average about one or two photo edits per day, but after that I did 5. I didn't just do 5 different players, I did 5 edits of BJ Daniels. Daniels was the first NFL player that I'd ever had an interaction with. I can't put into words how happy I was. For me, BJ Daniels "liking" my instagram photo was like winning the lottery. I was filled with that much excitement. Daniels "liked" multiple photos of mine and became one of my favorite players ever.
After Daniels first "liked" the photo, a couple more players started to look on my page. I got "likes" from Vernon Davis, Quinton Patton (who I will hopefully be seeing next week!), and Marcus Martin. Daniels response gave me a joy that I had never experienced before and made me realize that I wanted to work in the NFL when I grew up. I love interacting with football players. A few years later, this led me to creating "Between The Tackles". B.J. Daniels was released at the start of the 2013 season by the 49ers, and then got picked up off waivers by the Seattle Seahawks. Daniels spent three years with Seattle and went on to two Superbowl's, winning one. Daniels would eventually switch to wide receiver and bounce around in the NFL a little bit. He eventually got settled in Atlanta for 2016 and 2017 where he helped the Falcons make a Superbowl run. After the 2017 season, Daniels had a cup of coffee with the CFL and was getting ready to call it a career. Then he got the call. He was asked to partake in a new professional football league called the AAF. Daniels was drafted in the second round by the Salt Lake City Stallions and would convert back to quarterback.
As most of you know, I've been writing about the Alliance a lot lately and that's because I have received media credentials for the San Diego Fleet home games. This past week, the Fleet defeated the Stallions with a last second field goal by Kicker Donny Hageman. While I will be writing an article about the game, that's not what this article is about. This article is about my connection with BJ Daniels and how he, unknowingly changed the course of my life.
Before the game, I knew I wanted to say something to BJ and tell him this story... but I wasn't sure what his reaction was going to be. So I approached BJ before the game started as he was warming up. I was a little nervous, but you would never guess his reaction! Daniels loved my story and we got to talk for a little while. He was so genuine and great to talk to. You can tell why NFL teams like him both on and off the field. After we talked he ran into the locker room and I was expecting to talk with him after the game. Little did I know, he was running into the locker room to grab cleats. Cleats for me, that he signed! This was a truly selfless act by Daniels and I will forever be grateful for him. After the game was over I got to talk a little more with Daniels. He even facetimed his parents so I could tell them the story as well! We took a few photos and connected on social media. Now I'm happy to say that BJ Daniels is not only a hero of mine, but a friend of mine. BJ Daniels is one of the nicest players I've ever interacted with and I'm so grateful that life was able to come full circle with him!