Arizona is a great landing spot

The wait to be drafted might have been agonizing for Matt Leinart, but Arizona was a great spot for him to land.

Updated: May 11, 2006, 1:35 PM ET
By Matt Leinart | Special to ESPN.com

Editor's note: Former USC QB Matt Leinart gave ESPN.com an exclusive look into his life leading up to and following the NFL draft. After two weeks to process the whirlwind of the draft, Leinart looks back on the experience of getting drafted by the Cardinals.

It's been a crazy couple of weeks and a lot has happened since my last diary, so let me get you caught up on some of it.

It was stressful waking up on the Saturday morning of the NFL draft. The anxiety and anticipation of not having any idea where you are going to end up is hard. I heard things all week, but still didn't have any idea where I was going to go. I thought about sitting in that Green Room being the last guy there. I definitely didn't want that to happen to me. All of those things were going through my head.

My brother Ryan thought I would get drafted by the Titans. My dad thought I would get picked by the Saints. I didn't have any idea. I was getting bad feelings from Tennessee. I thought they were going to end up going in a different direction. The New York Jets were supposed to be a big player, but then they fell off. I just knew that once it got past No. 4 (Jets) it could be either Oakland (No. 7) or Arizona (No. 10) before I got picked. I never ruled out Arizona, but I just never thought I would drop to No. 10.

Matt Leinart
Gene Lower/WireImage.comThe Cardinals drafted Matt Leinart with the 10th overall pick.
I wasn't surprised when the Titans drafted Vince Young. Everyone has their opinions. I'm sure there were a lot of mixed feelings in their organization from top to bottom about which one of us to pick. I know coach [Norm] Chow (the offensive coordinator) wanted me and he was going hard to get me, but there are a lot of politics involved in a decision like that. I think things happen for a reason and I ended up with a great football team. I'm really happy where I'm at.

My biggest fear all along was waiting. I didn't want to sit there backstage as the minutes ticked by. Teams that were in need of quarterbacks were passing over me. It was tough sitting there.

My agent Chuck Price told my other agent, Tom Condon, that the next client either of them has who is invited to the NFL draft should not come to New York City for the whole week unless they already have a contract signed with a team. It makes sense so you don't have to sit there and look like an idiot. If I could take it all back, I wouldn't have gone to the draft. I would have stayed home and been with my family and friends.

In the Green Room, when Chuck first got the call from the Cardinals he thought it was a joke. We just thought the phone was ringing. We didn't know because we had been waiting there for awhile. The other phones on the table never rang for the players drafted before me. The other guys were always talking on their cell phones.

There have been lots of reporters who have asked me if I have any regrets about not entering the draft last year because I would've been a No. 1 pick. That's all speculation. No one knows that. I wasn't healthy. I didn't physically feel 100 percent. In that sense, I don't think I lost money. I'm a much better football player and a way better person now. I've been through a lot more this year. People don't understand that. Some people do understand, but a lot of people are just idiots who have no idea what's going on. People just want to say I was going to be the No. 1 pick last year. How do you know? Aaron Rodgers thought he was going to be No. 1 and he ended up not getting drafted until the 24th pick in the first round. That could have easily been me last year.

It was the weirdest thing that the Cardinals drafted me considering I didn't meet with them nearly as much as I did with other organizations. I met with their quarterbacks coach a little at the scouting combine. That's the way it goes sometimes. You just don't have the opportunity to meet with everyone.

There was actually word at one point that the Broncos wanted me. They were going to try to trade with the Bills for their eighth pick to get me. I don't think Buffalo could pull the trigger on the trade.

It's a big relief to have finally been drafted. Now I can move on with my life. I can finally organize myself because I know what team I'm going to play for and where I'm going to live. Now it's just a matter of getting situated and adapting to a new city and team.

I just got back to L.A. from minicamp in Arizona. I actually expected it to be hotter than it was. We had two-a-days on Friday and Saturday and one practice Sunday. Then we were done. I adjusted pretty well. I have to pick it up a little bit. Rookie camp starts next week. I've also been getting treatment on my groin. It's been pretty sore. I tweaked it in one of my private workouts. It's held up though and is getting better.

My new head coach, coach [Dennis] Green, is very cool. I realized during minicamp that he doesn't say a whole lot during practice. Coach [Pete] Carroll was always very energetic and upbeat at USC. They just have different styles. You can tell he has a lot of respect from his players. He's a big quarterback guy and a player's coach.

I had a chance to spend some time with Kurt Warner while I was in Arizona. We first met at Muhammad Ali's Celebrity Fight Night back in March. I learned a lot in two days from him. He's a great veteran leader and a guy to look up to. I couldn't have walked into a better situation.

The Cardinals' playbook shouldn't be too hard. But it's something you have to get used to. It's different than USC's playbook. There are a lot of the same concepts, but they're called differently. I need to test myself and practice calling the plays. It's just a matter of learning a new system.

Arizona is somewhat similar to L.A. I will start looking for a house next week. My brother Ryan and another good friend of mine will be staying with me during my rookie season. I'm really looking forward to getting settled in.

Expect big things from the Cardinals this season. The organization is going in the right direction between signing running back Edgerrin James and moving into a new stadium. It's a great young team. I'm really fortunate to be a part of the organization.

Today (Thursday) is my 23rd birthday. I'm going out to dinner to celebrate with my family.

Thanks to everyone for reading and following. It's been a long process, but it's finally over. It's great to be a part of the Arizona Cardinals organization. Look for big things from the Cardinals. I plan on helping the team in any way I can as a rookie.

Go Trojans and Cardinals!

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