GREEN BAY, Wis. — It takes Tim Watson eight fully uninterrupted minutes to tell the story of how he got from the 1993 NFL draft to his first game with the Green Bay Packers.
And that, in a phone interview, was the abridged version.
He hopes his son, Christian, has a much smoother path.
And given that the Packers selected the younger Watson with the second pick of the second round on Friday — and traded up to No. 34 overall to do it — that seems like a decent bet.
“I believe that Christian is certainly in a different situation than I was in,” a chuckling Tim Watson told ESPN after sharing his circuitous route.
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In 1993, the Packers selected the safety out of Howard University in the sixth round (No. 156 overall). Tim said the Packers drafted him to be future Hall of Famer LeRoy Butler’s backup.
But he never played in a game.
“He was big and exceptionally smart,” Butler recalled. “So I’m not surprised his kid’s really smart. I was a little perplexed why they cut him. He was one of the few guys that knew the defense as a young guy.”
Story after draft story on Christian mentioned that his father was drafted by the Packers and went on to play for the Chiefs, Giants and Eagles. None of them explained why he never actually played in Green Bay. In fact, Watson said only the late Lee Remmel, the long-time team historian, ever wrote in detail what happened.
According to Tim, the shortest version is that in training camp he said he sustained an avulsion fracture in one of his ankles during a scrimmage at Lambeau Field.
“When that happened, and you’re a sixth-round draft pick from Howard University, and they’ve got to get ready for the season, what do they do?” he said. “You try to stash that guy on the practice squad. But when they released me, I got claimed by like 17 teams, and so I went on this journey around the NFL.”
Reminding that communication was much different nearly 30 years ago, Tim said he was told that the Patriots were one of the teams to claim him off waivers and that he was to immediately fly to Boston to join his new team.
“Before I got on the plane, they told me I have to take my physical when I get here so you can’t eat,” he said. “So I got there and went through all of the physicals and I get into the facility to get my uniform on to go to practice and the league office calls them and says there was a mistake.”
Rather, it was the Browns who actually should have been awarded Watson off waivers.
He said he boarded the next plane from Boston to Cleveland and again was told not to eat because he would have to repeat all the tests, including blood work.
“So they take me over to the hospital and by that time my blood sugar level went crazy because I hadn’t eaten,” he said. “I had gone a whole day without eating and taken two physicals where they’ve drawn blood and all that kind of stuff. My body basically went into shock.”
He spent the next three days in a Cleveland hospital.
The Browns never got to see him on the field before final cuts, so he said they tried to convince him to go on injured reserve, but he declined.
“So I ended up back in Green Bay,” Tim said.
While you won’t find any record of him ever playing for the Packers in a game, he was on the sideline for one game: Week 2 of his rookie season against the Eagles. According to the official stat book from that game, among the inactives was: “S 25 T. Watson”
The Packers re-signed him on Sept. 6, 1993. The game against the Eagles was six days later. Eight days after that, he was released again. The Chiefs signed him a week later. He appeared in four games for the Chiefs that season and, according to Pro Football Reference, played in a total of 13 NFL games from 1993 to ’97.
It doesn’t change the fact that after the Packers drafted his son, they became one of the rare father-son combinations picked by the same NFL team. ESPN Stats & Information and the Elias Sports Bureau couldn’t say exactly how rare that is. All they could say is that it’s happened at least once before: Channing Crowder, in 2005, and his father Randy Crowder, in 1974, both were drafted by the Dolphins.
Following his playing days, Tim, who changed his name Tazim Wajid Wajed in 2019, went on to a career in financial services and also dabbled in coaching — spending three seasons (2004-2006) as a defensive backs coach for the Scottish Claymores in NFL Europe.
His older son, Tre, also was a standout football player who went on to play at the University of Maryland and signed in the NFL as an undrafted free agent with Washington in 2019.
“We lived with the football in our hands,” Christian said shortly after the Packers drafted him on Friday. “Shoot, me and my dad and my brothers — even my mom and my sister — we lived to play football. We lived to do the football thing. We were always in the backyard.”
A late bloomer, Christian’s only Division I scholarship offer came from North Dakota State. By the time he was done in Fargo, he had grown to more than 6-foot-4, 208 pounds and ran a 4.4 40-yard dash at the combine. He became the highest receiver the Packers have drafted since they last used a first-round pick on one, Javon Walker in 2002.
Still, Christian was the seventh receiver taken in the draft. The first six went in the top 18. Another 15 picks went by before the Packers took Watson.
“I think it may be a little misconstrued when people start talking about him being raw,” Tim said. “Christian started playing football when he was 4. Tre had been playing. They had a father who not only was a former professional football player but also a coach.
“What I was able to share with them from the standpoint of the technical aspects of the game and everything there is to know from a football IQ standpoint, I would say he’s going to be one of your more refined young players because we literally built it from the ground up with him.”