Within an hour of the conclusion of the 2008 NFL draft, the Kansas City Chiefs had signed Nebraska linebacker Steve Octavien.
"They’re giving me $10,000 right off the bat," Octavien said of his signing bonus. "It was the best opportunity I would have had."
Octavien didn't even watch the NFL draft this year. He knew that a player with the injury history he had would be a tough sell as a draft pick.
"Anytime there are questions about injuries," Octavien said, "you fall off everybody’s board real quick."
In 2004, in his only year at Wiliam Rainey Harper College, Octavien only played in four games due to a shoulder injury. Then, in the opening quarter of the '05 season, now Nebraska Cornhusker Octavien broke his leg and didn't play another down the rest of the season.
Octavien played in in every game in 2007, leading the team in tackles, tackles for loss and quarterback pressures. It was his first injury-free season since high school. He started eight games in '07, three at weak-side linebacker and three at strong-side linebacker.
Throughout his Nebraska career, it appears as if Steve Octavien had his fair share of energized comments and quotable statements. On September 22, 2007, the Cornhuskers came out of Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, NE, with a one point win over lowly Ball-State. The crowd booed the play of the Nebraska defense, prompting Steve Octavien to say this about the fans - " They’re not on the field. We’re the ones putting in the hard work. If they don’t like it, they don’t have to come out and watch the games."A few days later, Octavien made an emotional, mature and honest apology, stirring Corn Nation to pen this:
Perhaps Tuesday the Huskers found their defensive leader in the form of Steve Octavien. Some leaders are not born, but make themselves in time of crisis. Two common items to overcoming a crisis are communication and unity. Finding himself in the middle of one, Octavien has seized the opportunity and used both items to bring things back together. Husker fans should recognize that and respond this weekend with the support that he deserves. If it all comes together there's still time to have a good Husker football season. I hope it does, because there are few things better than watching a leader be born.
A leader, eh? The Chiefs could use one of those. Now, it's not going to be Steve Octavien because undrafted free agents don't exactly have much clout in the locker room, even if he is a natural leader. But this team is young and wary. Hopefully an interesting story line will develop this off season about a leader on defense (or offense). We really have no "leaders" to speak of. Donnie Edwards was expected to fill that role I suppose but as far as I can tell he hasn't. Tony Gonzalez is a frustrated leader when he speaks, which makes his influence much less. Larry Johnson isn't that type of guy. Beyond that, there's really no one who speaks and everyone listens. A player who can change the attitude of the team with one quote. A natural leader. We simply do not have one now. The time is quickly approaching for one.
Okay, back to Steve Octavien. Check out this draft profile of Octavien, which is worth a watch if you're truly interested in the guy.
As far as personal priorities, Steve Octavien is already thinking about sharing his wealth. Just not in the MC Hammer, Shawn Kemp traditions.
If his dream of playing in the NFL doesn't pan out, Octavien has talked with Husker team chaplain Matt Penland and his Lincoln, Neb., church about a project in South Africa. His own vision is to someday open an orphanage and homeless shelter in Haiti, where his parents were born. "I know they have major problems," Octavien said. "They're the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. My roots are from there, so it's a place I want to help out. "That's something I can't do without money from football. I've just got to use the tools God gave me."
As far as Octavien's chances of making the Kansas City Chiefs' opening day roster, I'll put it this way. He is one of eleven linebackers currently on the roster. Donnie Edwards, Derrick Johnson, Nap Harris and DeMorrio Williams are the clear cut top four players at the position, with a mix of 2007 special teamers and UDFAs from last month's draft filling out the roster. Octavien's hope in making this team is entirely based on being a special teams stand out.
Lucky for him, linebacker is a position that seems to translate well to special teams play.