The story is true, and it's not like Krishawn Hogan has tired of its telling, but as usual, the details mean something.
Hogan, now an undrafted rookie wide receiver with the Cardinals, did indeed once work as a janitor at the Indianapolis Convention Center – the same place that helps host the NFL's Scouting Combine. Yes, it's a great tale, since Hogan, as a star at NAIA Marian University nearby, managed to take part in the Combine this past March.
But it's not like Hogan was a janitor during a previous Combine, or even that he was there long. He worked there for about a month a few years ago, long enough to help pay for a 15-year-old car, long enough for him to realize that – even as a night person – he couldn't manage the graveyard shift.
It was only part of the journey that got Hogan, improbably, to Tempe.
"A lot of things were happening for me to have to grow up," Hogan said.
Just a cursory glance at Hogan's path to the Cards gives pause. Only a few Marian players have ever even made it to an NFL camp, and none have ever stuck on a roster. Hogan, at 6-3 and built like a prototypical wideout, seems to have a better chance than others.
He had 80 catches for 1,435 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior, with another 10 touchdowns rushing. As a junior, his numbers were even more eye-popping (101-1,824-16 with 15 rushing touchdowns.) How that will translate to the NFL level is the mystery, especially at a position where the Cards have four locks (Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, J.J. Nelson, rookie Chad Williams) and a laundry list of higher-up-the-depth-chart candidates like Jaron Brown.
"He's from a small school but he dominated the competition," coach Bruce Arians said. "It's a tough room to crack but he's got a lot of talent."
Hogan has dealt with difficult before, though.
In high school it took him four years to play much, switching from quarterback to receiver at the same time he sprouted in height, leaving him uncoordinated and generally stat-less. But he found a place to play at Walsh University in Ohio, where he surpassed his high school stats as a freshman but was admittedly "immature," struggling to accept coaching.
Forced to transfer, Hogan found himself back home just outside Indianapolis living a rugged schedule. From 5-9 p.m. he'd work at Monkey Joe's – a place full of inflatable bouncehouse-type fun for children. From midnight to 8 a.m. it was his job at the Convention Center. He took community college classes from 9 a.m. to noon, and snuck a nap in when he could.
He didn't just need a car, he also needed to pay off leftover fees at Walsh – around $2,000 worth – before he could officially start over.
Eventually, he found a better paying job for more money working as a camp counselor at the YMCA. All the while, he was e-mailing and calling college coaches, basically "recruiting myself." Finally, Marian brought him in.
When he was a freshman, one of Hogan's coaches would tell him he could eventually play in the NFL. "I used to think he said it just to give me confidence, but he said it so much, I started to believe it," Hogan said. Starting over at Marian, it became about just proving himself again.
Then he put up the gaudy statistics (and won a national championship), got invited to the Combine, and at least a chance to make an NFL roster—something that seemed unlikely those wee hours he spent mopping floors in the Indianapolis Convention Center, however short of a time he spent there.
"I was hoping to be drafted, with the whole pride-of-getting-drafted thing," Hogan said. "There is a lot in that. But at the end of the day, I'm here."
Images from pregame during the 2016 season