Broncos kick Cutler's Birthday into High Gear 

Broncos kick Cutler's Birthday into High Gear

It was Jay Cutler's 23rd birthday Saturday.

He spent it with family and friends at a downtown restaurant.
Then he was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, did a live interview on ESPN, and was set to become a multimillionaire.

So, how was your Saturday afternoon?
The Denver Broncos took Cutler with the 11th overall pick when the Broncos moved up four spots in a trade with the St. Louis Rams. It ended months of speculation regarding where the standout quarterback from Vanderbilt was going to be selected and who would be the selector.

"It's a big day," Cutler said. "It's a great team and a great organization. It's fun. It hasn't really sunk in yet."

Cutler's draft party at Judge Bean's Bar-B-Que began early, hit a crescendo when his name was called, and, it's safe to assume, continued well into the evening.

"We don't have to leave until tomorrow," Cutler said as he addressed the crowd. "So let's keep the party going."

Cutler will fly to Denver Sunday to face the media and meet his new coaching staff. But before that, Cutler's friends and family were Rocky Mountain high in Nashville.

More than 250 people piled into Judge Bean's. A band set up shop on the main stage, bartenders worked hard keeping the crowd hydrated, and a man who obviously didn't know about the party walked in wearing a Rocky Top T-shirt. He drew some stares, then some boos. And some chants.

Blue and white balloons flew outside. A satellite truck from ESPN was parked out back. A sign behind the bar read, "Join Us Here For Jay Cutler's NFL Draft. ESPN Will Be Here Too!"

About 45 minutes before the draft, more than 100 people were already inside. Cutler, dressed in a camel-colored suit and blue tie, already had an earpiece in, ready for his upcoming ESPN interview.

Fifteen minutes before the draft started, Cutler stood on a stage, flanked by two life-sized cardboard cutouts of him. He spoke into the microphone and said, "Check, check, check." Then, "Hello?"

And, of course, the crowd cheered.

"Hopefully we won't be here long," he said. "Thank you and everyone have a good time."

Less than 10 minutes remained before the start of the draft when Cutler disappeared. He headed to a private room with his parents, Sandy and Jack, and agent Bus Cook.

When NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced Vince Young as the Tennessee Titans' pick at No. 3, there were cheers and boos. Some were from Cutler's former teammates, including Earl Bennett, Kevin Joyce, Matthew Tant, Marlon White, Steven Bright, Ryan King and M.J. Garrett.

Vanderbilt Coach Bobby Johnson and his wife, Catherine, were also on hand, though they didn't do any booing.

"We're a quarterback school now," quipped Johnson, who was munching on a sandwich when Cutler's name was called. "It's proof that you can come to Vanderbilt, get a good education and still have a chance to get into the NFL."

The attendees started getting restless with the No. 7 pick when Oakland selected Michael Huff, a safety from Texas. Then came Nos. 8, 9, and 10. No Cutler.

Out of nowhere Denver traded up to No. 11. ESPN showed Cutler talking on his cell phone, drawing another loud cheer.

Would this be it?

Would Cutler go from hating Rocky Top to living on top of the Rockies?

"I knew probably 10 seconds before my name was called," said Cutler, who received the call from Denver Coach Mike Shanahan. "I answered the phone and everyone was going crazy. It was a relief."

Joe Sharp stood and yelled, beer bottle in hand. He was Cutler's first football coach, a self-proclaimed good 'ol boy who made Cutler a quarterback at age 9.

Sharp made the three-hour drive from Indiana to see where Cutler's winding football career would take him.

"Look at me," Sharp said. "One would think, 'What the (heck) kind of impact could I have on Jay Cutler?' But there was an impact there, with both of us. I love him like a son. From the first time he threw a pass for me, to the last time I ever see him ever throw a pass, it will always lighten my soul."

The partying and celebration quickly turned to business, at least for Cutler's agent.

Cook is known to have respectable relationships with NFL owners and general managers. His current clients include Titans quarterback Steve McNair and Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre. Cook said Saturday he has always had good communications with Denver's front office.

"They've got their job to do and I understand that," said Cook. "And they understand I have my job to do. We'll get it done, but it will be awhile."

Current Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer is currently under a seven-year, $40 million contract that reportedly expires in 2009. Cutler said he has no problem learning from Plummer while getting comfortable with Denver's offense. Money, he added, won't be a sticking point.

"I'm going to work with them just as much as they want to work with me," Cutler said. "I want to meet in the middle. I'm not going to try and get a ridiculous amount of money out of them."

Still, when it's all said and done, the birthday boy is going to get some serious cake.

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