DENVER — Perhaps, one measurement of a player’s character is determining whether he loves his mother. There is much more to evaluating character, but it’s a good place to start.
Jerry Jeudy loves his mom.
"She means the world to me," the receiver from the University of Alabama said in a Zoom interview with 9NEWS on Friday, hours after the Broncos made Jeudy their first-round NFL Draft selection. "She’s the one that brought me into the world. Being in the NFL and being who I am today, she played a big role in that. Whatever I’m doing, this is mostly for her."
As the No. 15 overall pick, Jeudy is slotted to receive a signing bonus of nearly $9 million. Not a bad birthday present for the young man who officially turned the adult age of 21 Friday. On his last day as pre-adulthood, he danced with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on a TikTok social media video.
"He reached out to my people and he wanted to make a TikTok video with me so I decided why not?" Jeudy said.
Jeudy can dance. And Goodell had some fun as he gave it a go.
"He’s got a couple things he’s got to work on but he didn’t do too bad, though," Jeudy said.
Some of Jeudy’s newfound riches have already been bestowed upon Marie, who came to South Florida as a teenager from Haiti and who later raised her children as a single-mom provider.
"She’s actually right next to me so I don’t want to give out too many secrets or information about what I’m going to do for her," Jeudy said with a smile.
They grew up in the Fort Lauderdale and he attended high school a bit north in Deerfield Beach.
"It was not too bad," he said. "Just some tough times around there. It was a tough environment. Some people make it out, some people don’t but I’m one of the few that made it out and I’m thankful for that."
He made it out by shaking, shifting, cutting, spinning, dead-legging and doing what is now known as "Jeudying" on the football field.
"Just all the time playing football, I didn’t want to get tackled," he said. "Do whatever it takes to make the defender miss. And once I started doing that that’s when everyone started calling it, Jeudying."
Football became his devotion. After high school, he chose Alabama instead of the likes of Miami and Florida State that would have been closer to home because he wanted the discipline that coach Nick Saban demands.
Jeudy even got done with high school early so he could enroll in the spring semester of his freshman year at Alabama – instead of waiting until the fall with the other freshmen – so he could get a jump on the books and spring football for the Crimson Tide.
"I just thought Bama was a fit for me," he said. "I wanted to be a champion. I wanted to win a national championship. I felt like coach Saban puts players in the right position to be successful in the league.
"And that’s what I went in to do. Go in, compete for the national championship for three years and then go to the league. The way he organized the facility, his coaching staff and everybody else, I feel like he keeps everybody well-prepared."
But wasn’t he a little afraid of Saban when watching him from afar? The coach is always intense, stern to the point of being mad about something.
"Coach is very big on discipline, being accountable," Jeudy said. "He is a tough coach. He’s more of a businessman. He wants everything done at an exact certain time. He teaches you how to be accountable and how to be a pro."
This is a receiver who already has the work habits of a professional. His new offensive coordinator with the Broncos, Pat Shurmur, played for Saban at Michigan State and later was on his coaching staff.
"He talked to me about playing for coach Saban so he’s got good enough information about me," Jeudy said. "He really understands me as a player and as a human being."
Jeudy was projected to go a couple picks higher Thursday but concerns about an old left knee injury resurfaced a couple days before the draft. His Alabama teammate, Henry Ruggs III, was the first receiver to be drafted at No. 12 to the Las Vegas Raiders. Jeudy, who was Alabama’s leading receiver last year while Ruggs was No. 3, was the next to go off the board at 15.
"I played two years on it without issues," Jeudy said about his knee. "I won the Biletnikoff (as the nation’s top receiver in 2018) with the knee. Didn’t miss any time with the knee, didn’t miss any practices.
"Teams choose what’s the best fit for them, whatever the best fit is for the organization and I’m excited for Ruggs knowing how hard he worked and all the things he’s been through to be in the position he is now. He got picked by the Las Vegas Raiders and I hope he has a successful career over there."
Jeudy won’t be part of the Broncos’ virtual offseason team meetings that start Monday. Rookies won’t be brought in until May 11. Even Jeudy must wait. On draft night, Broncos star Von Miller, quarterback Drew Lock and Jeudy’s new receivers coach Zach Azzanni reached out to welcome Jeudy to the team.
He will be 21 and 2 1/2 weeks old by the time he joins his new team on Zoom. In the meantime, he will hang out with family.
He was in high school when he lost his younger sister. She was born with severe medical problems and died at 7 years old.
"After a playoff game – I think a third-round playoff game," he said. "I was coming off the field and my brother pulled me aside and gave me the news and I just broke down crying from there."
PHOTOS | WR Jerry Jeudy
He wears a Star of David necklace – which stems from his last name shortened – with a picture of his sister as the centerpiece.
"She meant the world to me," he said. "She was my little sister. She went through a lot her whole life. When I heard of that it was disappointing but she according to the doctors wasn’t supposed to make it past (toddler age) and God gave us 7 years with her so it was a blessing. I enjoyed every last moment with her."
Meanwhile, once mom heard her son talk about her during a media interview, she ran upstairs in hopes of disappearing from attention. Out of earshot, Jeudy said he was going to begin spending his money by buying her a new house and car.
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