WAUCONDA, Ill. -- The weather might have felt more like a football Sunday in November than a Saturday in April, but it didn't bother Panini NFL Player of the Day winner Rick Brodsky one bit.
WAUCONDA, Ill. — The weather might have felt more like a football Sunday in November than a Saturday in April, but it didn’t bother Panini NFL Player of the Day winner Rick Brodsky one bit.
While the wind blew and rain fell outside, Brodsky of Wauconda, Ill., sat in his living room watching the 2016 NFL Draft with up-and-coming Chicago Bears running back Jeremy Langford. Brodsky was chosen the grand prize winner out of nearly 150,000 entries at 600 sports card shops across the country during the 2015 season.
“I never thought I’d be a winner,” said Brodsky, who entered the promotion by buying a $2 pack of Panini America NFL cards at Chicagoland Sports Cards in Buffalo Grove, Ill.
The day started with a line of cars on Brodsky’s block as he invited family, friends and co-workers to join him for Langford’s visit. Some didn’t believe the 35-year-old Brodsky would really be hosting an NFL player from his favorite team.
“I had my wife’s cousin ask if it was a joke,” Brodsky said with a laugh.
Fun reality set in as a black stretch limo pulled into Brodsky’s driveway and Langford stepped under the cover of an umbrella to meet Brodsky.
“You got the draft on in there?” Langford asked, smiling, during introductions in the garage. “This is the exact day I was drafted last year.”
From there, Langford and Brodsky grabbed a seat on the couch for what turned into a relaxed, informal Q&A with the house crowd about his rookie season in the NFL, the legacy of Bears running backs and some of his football heroes — including Pro Football Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk. On the wall to Langford’s left, a TV showed the draft’s fourth round, which kept the former Michigan State star watching out for his college teammates and Bears selections.
It wasn’t long before Brodsky received a box of 2016 Prizm Collegiate Draft Picks Football that gave Langford a taste of the hobby. After Langford pulled fellow Spartan Le’Veon Bell as his first card, he used the pack-busting opportunity to ask Brodsky about his collecting history. Langford — who rushed for 537 yards and six touchdowns in his rookie season — looked a little shocked when Brodsky, who also collects Penn State football, said he had thousands of cards in his collection.
The fun moved to the dining table where Brodsky was presented with two boxes of National Treasures Football, including the 2015 release. He immediately decided to bust it with the hopes of pulling a Langford Rookie Card with the man himself sitting right there. That didn’t happen, but Langford grabbed a marker to sign photos, footballs and even an end zone pylon for Brodsky’s crew. Langford chuckled when asked if he’d ever sat in someone’s kitchen for an autograph appearance.
“It’s a first right here,” Langford said with a grin.
Speaking of smiles, they were in abundance as Langford posed for pictures with everyone. Particularly special to Brodsky were chances to introduce Langford to his wife, Jamie, and Simon, the couple’s seven-month-old son — a future Bears fan, for sure.
“I’ve been a Bears fan since I was born,” Brodsky said, crediting his dad, Mark, for introducing him to football.
The number of Bears fans grew mightily when the party shifted to Chicagoland Sports Cards where Langford sat down, with Brodsky as his right-hand man, for an hour-long autograph session that had collectors of all ages lined up around and outside the shop.
“It’s more people than I’ve ever seen in the store,” Chicagoland owner Marc Goldsmith said.
Langford enthusiastically greeted everyone as he put his name to cards, mini-helmets and other items, while also welcoming fans to take photos with him. He even joined in a selfie or two. Brodsky also introduced Langford to some of the shop’s best customers.
“Seeing people want to collect your cards is just crazy,” Langford said humbly.
He mentioned one of the best parts of the day was the opportunity to meet fans up close and personal so they could “get to know the person I am.” Count Brodsky as someone who will never forget Langford or the day he hung out with the NFL player at home, in a limo and at the card shop.
“This whole day has just been unbelievable,” Brodsky offered. “It was a lot of fun . . . an experience of a lifetime.”
Check it all out in this must-see video and gallery that follow. Enjoy.
Now, the pictures . . .