When Zaven Collins became the 16th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft and was selected by the Cardinals, he probably couldn’t have quite imagined the scenario he’d find himself in just a few hours later en route to his introductory press conference.
The Cardinals had sent a private jet to pick up Collins at his home in Tulsa, Okla. Normal enough for a first-round prospect.
What was a bit more unusual was that the Cardinals owner Michael Bidwell was the one flying the plane.
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Bidwell, 56, has had a pilot’s license since he was 19, so he has plenty of experience flying. Nonetheless, an owner flying to pick up a player is pretty unique.
But Collins seemed to enjoy it. On “Good Morning Football,” Collins was asked about his ride with Bidwell, and he had nothing but good things to say about it.
“Mr. Bidwell came and picked me up and he was laid back and he was just like, ‘Get on and we’ll talk about whatever and you can come up and sit behind the cockpit in this little area, [but] seatbelt in, buckle in,” Collins said. “It was nice. I got to let him talk to me about all the different instruments, talk about all the different stuff with the plan. You know, he’s an intelligent man and he knows so much about everything.”
And how was Bidwell as a pilot? Collins had no complaints about his skills.
“That was probably one of the smoothest landings I’ve ever had,” Collins said. “He flew us right in, and it was like we were already on the ground. I didn’t even feel the wheels bump. It was crazy. I was like, man, this was just absolutely awesome.”
Collins also detailed that Bidwell took him by one of his old fields and they got permission to bank the plane there. That’s a pretty cool additional gesture from Bidwell.
It sounds like Collins appreciated the opportunity to get fly with Bidwell as the pilot, so maybe the Cardinals’ owner will make this a tradition moving forward. If he does, it could be one of the cooler draft day perks of becoming a Cardinal.