As the news crossed the airwaves, jubilant screams let out from all corners of the Valley.
Cardinals fans, ASU fans, Jake the Snake wannabes – everyone in Arizona lit up the moment Jake Plummer was drafted by the local NFL team.
Everyone, that is, but the man himself.
On the afternoon of April 19, 1997, one of the biggest sports stars in state history was snoozing at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix the moment his name was called, completely oblivious to his professional destination and the seismic reaction it created.
"Let me tell the backstory here," Plummer said 24 years later from Denver, the details still crystal clear in his mind. "As the draft was coming up, I had my family come down and we were having fun parties and living it up, because this was a moment you don't get to experience but once in your life. We had a tee time, me and my brothers and my dad, that morning. Everybody was like, 'You're going to miss the draft. They're going to call your name and you're going to be on the golf course.' I said, 'Don't worry. I'm not going in the first round.' …
"So we went and played golf, and I was extremely tired from partying the two or three nights prior, so I'm like, 'I'm going to go lay down and catch a little sleep.' So I was asleep when I got drafted. Dave Dunn (Plummer's agent) came and tapped me on the shoulder and woke me up. When I came to, he said, 'Hey, man, you're an Arizona Cardinal. I said, 'Oh, wow, OK.'"
Frank Sanders, one of Plummer's favorite targets in the NFL, couldn't help but chuckle when relayed the story.
"That sounds exactly like him," the longtime Cardinals receiver said. "He's intense internally. Externally, he acts like a duck on water."
While Plummer processed the news in his typically muted manner, it wasn't long before he was breathing life into the Cardinals, just like he had done with the Sun Devils the few years prior.
"Fans in the Phoenix area were used to rooting for Jake Plummer," said longtime Arizona Republic reporter Richard Ruelas. "This is Jake the Snake. This is our guy. We already have the jerseys. Cardinals: Put him at quarterback and let's see where this goes."
Plummer was a local legend before he played a snap for the Cardinals.
The laid-back quarterback from Boise, Idaho engineered one of the finest campaigns in Arizona State football history as a senior. The Sun Devils finished the 1996 regular season with a 12-0 record and came within minutes of a Rose Bowl win and a national championship, led by their slithery signal-caller with a flair for the dramatic.
"Obviously, my senior year was remarkable," Plummer said. "It's a team that people remember – and they will forever – because we were so electric and so fun."
Plummer finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting, and as the draft inched closer, it was more than just the fans who wanted the Cardinals to select him.
"We have a hometown kid that is lighting up college and taking his team to new levels," Sanders said. "He is running, passing, willing his team to victory. And we needed a quarterback bad. We'd gone through Dave Krieg, Boomer Esiason, John Buck, Stoney Case. We've got names, but we don't have a leader, per se, at the position. We thought that, as a team, he would be absolutely excellent to come here and try to help move us to the next level."
Pro Bowl fullback Larry Centers liked Plummer so much he openly campaigned for the move.
"As a player you only have so much say, but to anybody who would listen, you've just got to put that bug in their ear," Centers said.
Plummer caught wind of Centers' preference during his draft preparation. While Plummer was a college legend, the NFL was still uncharted territory, and he appreciated the vote of confidence from an established star.
"I remember him being vocal in the press, like, 'Draft this kid; He should be a Cardinal,'" Plummer said. "That made me feel good, because my whole dream from being a child was to play in the NFL. And now it was like, 'Wow, these players are saying they want me to be on their team.'"