Bert Emanuel was a multi-sport star from a young age. By the time he got to Rice University he was a star quarterback for the Owls. His career path and trajectory changed after the Senior Bowl. He began the tough transition from college quarterback to NFL wide receiver.
He made it look easy. After being drafted by the Falcons in 1994 he recorded a 1,000 yard season in just his second year in the league.
The pass catching playmaker went on to have two more near 1,000 yards seasons in Atlanta, then spent time with Tampa Bay, Miami, Detroit and New England before retiring after the 2001 season.
In our latest Card Back Q&A he discusses facts from the back of his 1994 Bowman rookie card, including the tough transition from WR to QB, being drafted (twice) in Major League Baseball as well as his father’s distinguished career at NASA.
Tony Reid- Your 1994 Bowman rookie card had a number of interesting facts. The first being that you initially played wide receiver at the Senior Bowl. Can you speak to how that transition changed your future going forward?
Bert Emanuel- It was tough. It was a very difficult decision to make. At the time, that was the only opportunity for me. There were only three NFL teams that were willing to draft me as a quarterback. The other 25 teams wanted me to change positions. It was way before the mobile quarterback could be accepted as a dual threat at the professional level. That was the opportunity for me.
I struggled with it emotionally. I struggled with it mentally. I had a very good support group with the Falcons in June Jones, Terance (Mathis) and J.J. Birden and Eric Metcalf that really embraced me and helped me make that transition. Then second year I was a 1,000 yard receiver. It was cool but it was very difficult to being with.
TR-Another interesting point from that same card back stated that you were drafted by two MLB teams- the Toronto Blue Jays and the Pittsburgh Pirates. You obviously chose football but do you ever let your mind go to a place to where you wonder how a career in Major League Baseball would have played out for you?
BE– Absolutely! I don’t think I would have had the concussions that I had or some of the other football injuries. Baseball is pretty much non-contact sport, unless there is a big play at home plate. I think every dual sport athlete may have those “what if” moments where you think about what would have happened if I played baseball. Would I have been a Hall of Famer? There are no regrets whatsoever. I was really a four-sport athlete in high school and essentially a three sport athlete in college and got drafted in two sports and played one professionally. You can’t help but think about the ‘what if” scenario.
TR-The third interesting point on the back of that card also stated that your dad worked for NASA can you elaborate on what he did with the space program?
BE-He was a cool dude. He did a lot of different things that were really phenomenal for NASA. He was there for 30-plus years. He was part of the safety division. It did work with the international space station. He did some things with Space Force, which was recently our fifth military branch or defense branch. He is an engineer by trade. He is a genius. He has four or five patents. He is someone I always looked up to and I’ve admired the things he was able to do with NASA and for NASA over three generations. He is iconic from that standpoint.