Equifax Winner Enjoys Experience of Lifetime

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For NFL fans, the annual NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall is a major holiday that isn't to be missed. For one life-long Falcons fan, the 2013 Draft will be one he will never forget.

Season-ticket holder Cliff Ross was one of more than 10,000 entrants into the Equifax Atlanta Falcons Draft Contest. The 39-year-old Falcons fan was selected to fly to New York to announce the franchise's two fourth-round selections.

The NFL started a program last year that would allow each team to send one representative to announce the franchise's pick in the fourth round of the draft.

The Falcons selected Ross, as well as one other lucky winner from the team's social media platforms, to go to New York City for three days to attend VIP draft functions.

 

Ross was beyond thrilled when he received a phone call two weeks before the draft telling him he'd won.

"It was a great experience, no doubt," Ross said. "They always say, 'Do people really win those contests?' Well, it happens because I won."

Ross, who said he has never won anything before, immediately called his wife, Vernonica, to tell her they were on their way to New York to attend an once-in-a-lifetime event.

"I normally watch the draft at home, but we were both excited to go (to New York)," Ross said. "It was a no-brainer we were going."

Ross and his wife attended the first round of the draft in primetime on April 25, and returned the next day for several special events that were taking place in the middle of the draft.

A movie called "Draft Day" was being filmed on stage and in the green room, which stars several current NFL players as well as familiar actors Kevin Costner and Terry Crews. Ross witnessed some of the filming and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reading out fake names for the movie.

"After Mr. Goodell finished his part, he made his way down through the crowd and I walked over to him," Ross said. "I met him and took my picture with him."

Ross, who was dressed up in a suit in Falcons colors, made a joke about borrowing a suit from Falcons owner and chairman Arthur Blank, which made Goodell chuckle.

Ross would also sit in on Merril Hoge's "Chalk Talk" to hear how the ESPN analyst breaks down draft prospects. He would also see the team tables and speak with NFL Network's Mike Mayock, who gave glowing praise of the team's first round draft pick, Desmond Trufant.

The draft's final day would be Ross' biggest when he would have a chance to announce a pair of Falcons draft picks and possibly appear on television. Ross donned a sharp three-piece suit and bought a Falcons hat at the NFL store to complete the ensemble.

"I felt like if I was going to represent the Falcons, I wanted to look my best," he said.

After meeting with an NFL organizer at Radio City Music Hall around 11 a.m., he and his wife waited in reserved seating until pick No. 124 when he went down to the club's draft table.

"They were getting information over the headset and they told me that the name might be a hard one to pronounce," said Ross. "They gave me 'Malliciah Goodman' and I practiced it a few times."

Once it was the Falcons' turn at No. 127, Ross stood up and flawlessly announced "Malliciah Goodman, defensive end, Clemson," into the mic. Team officials asked if he wanted to do pick No. 133 and he gladly accepted.

Leading up to the team's second pick of the round, Ross said he could tell that team officials were eagerly discussing who the team should take on a conference call over the headset. Ross was once again alerted that the name could be difficult, but Ross wasn't worried.

"When they said it was going to be Levine Toilolo, I recognized it from watching college football," Ross said. "I got up and said the name with no problem."

Ross then departed Radio City Music Hall and returned to Atlanta with a scrapbook full of memories.

"It was an awesome three days," Ross said. "I still can't believe it happened to me, but I am so thankful for everything."

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