By Jim Gehman, Player Engagement Insider
Edwin Mulitalo had a lot on his mind during the 1999 NFL Draft. Because he had participated in a mission for the Mormon Church, the University of Arizona guard hadn’t played football in two years. He wondered if he’d be drafted. And if he wasn’t, would he be signed as a free agent? On top of that, well, he wanted to stay on the good side of wife Laura’s dad.
“You always try to make the father-in-law proud, and at that time I don’t know if he was happy about my decision going to the NFL because I kind of put school to the side to train for the NFL,” Mulitalo said. “He asked me, ‘What do you want to do?’ And I said, ‘I want to go into the NFL.’ And he said, ‘Isn’t that a tough way to make a living?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, if you don’t get drafted.’”
Fortunately for Mulitalo, he was. The Baltimore Ravens selected him in the fourth round.
“I was in church,” he said with a laugh. “My father-in-law was presiding over the meeting and I stepped out because I was anxious. And that’s when the phone came on. I had one of those old Nokia phones, and I still remember it was the ringtone of the Entertainer.
“They told me they were going to draft me with the next pick. They said if you’ll just hold on here, we’re going to go ahead and say your name, and they did. Then I went down the line (talking with general manager) Ozzie Newsome and (then-head coach) Brian Billick and everybody else in that office. And then I went back in and sat down and kind of whispered (the news) to my wife.”
As a rookie, the 25-year-old Mulitalo had the advantage of maturity. “My life was somewhat stable. And so, going into the NFL, I didn’t have all the, I guess, worries,” he said. “I knew I wanted to play and I knew I put in hard work, but when I looked at some of the rookies that were coming in, they were young guys, and I said, ‘Wow! They had eyes of a deer looking at headlights.’
“So, yeah, that was a positive for me. But at the same time, the pressure for me was I’ve got to maximize those years I have. I thought, ‘I don’t know how long I’m going to do this. I’ve got to get going.’”
In 2000, his second season, Mulitalo was starting at left guard and helped the Ravens post a 12-4 record and win Super Bowl XXXV over the New York Giants. It was an experience that became even more memorable for Mulitalo after he took some advice from a veteran teammate, defensive tackle Tony Siragusa.
“He kind of pulled me to the side and said, ‘I’ve been in a lot of these playoff games and you know what Ed? When we go to the Super Bowl, you just go all out. Spend all that bonus money that you’re making. Spend it all on your family because you just never know when you’ll come back,’” Mulitalo said.
“It’s crazy because I here I was thinking I’m going to nickel-and-dime everything. Look for the cheapest hotels for my family throughout the whole playoff run. And when he told me that, it just put things into perspective. My family came out and we gave them anything they wanted. We had a limo for them wherever they wanted to go; they stayed at nice hotels and did everything they wanted to do. And I look back and guess what? I never got a sniff of the Super Bowl again.”
Now the assistant defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at Southern Virginia University, Mulitalo, who played eight seasons for Baltimore and two for the Detroit Lions, will get a sniff of the NFL again on Saturday when he’ll represent the Ravens by presenting their third-round selection at the Draft.
“I think it’s a neat thing. A lot of my players are really geeked out. They’re pretty excited. But it just means that I’m getting old,” Mulitalo laughed. “When it comes down to it, doing this is kind of a way for me to say thank you. With everything that’s going around, for what it’s worth, by coming out here and doing this for the Ravens and the NFL, I’m just showing my gratitude. I’m grateful. It’s a wonderful sport.”
And what advice would he offer to the young man whose name he’ll announce?
“I’d give him the same advice I’ve given to many guys,” Mulitalo said. “Even when I was in the league playing when I got to my later years, it is to always be coachable, be humble no matter how many accolades you get because this thing’s not going to last forever.
“And once it’s done, you’re going to look back and if you weren’t humble or if you weren’t grateful, it may not be as enjoyable a ride as you wanted. So that’s the advice I’ve always given – be coachable, be humble and be grateful for everything that you’ve got.”