Jets rookie Nathan Shepherd took a long and winding road to the NFL. He grew up in Canada, played college football at Simon Fraser University, and had to quit school and do odd jobs when he couldn’t afford the tuition. Eventually he found his way to Fort Hays State in Kansas, where he played so well that he got an invitation to the Senior Bowl. He impressed scouts so much at the Senior Bowl that the Jets took him in the third round of the draft.
One NFL player helped Shepherd along the way: Nate Burleson, the former Vikings, Seahawks and Lions receiver who happened to meet Shepherd while Shepherd was working as a doorman at a club. Burleson now works at NFL Network, and the two met again on set, where Shepherd thanked Burleson for his guidance.
“Nate, you were actually the first NFL player I ever met,” Shepherd said.
Burleson said he remembered meeting Shepherd, who approached him to ask for advice. Shepherd told Burleson that he wasn’t sure if he’d continue playing football, but Burleson said he could see Shepherd had a passion for the game and urged him not to give up. Burleson also gave Shepherd a big tip and told him a day would come when he was making big money playing football.
“Before the night was over you said I was gonna make it to the league. You gave me a $100 bill and said, ‘Here’s a little advance on your signing bonus.’ I’ve never forgotten that,” Shepherd told Burleson.
Shepherd then tried to give Burleson a $100 bill, but Burleson told him to keep it.