MUSCATINE, Iowa — Former University of Iowa and now-professional football players Jordan Bernstine and Marvin McNutt both said the speed of the game is the biggest difference between college and pro ball.
Bernstine and McNutt got to slow things down on Saturday, though, at the second annual Once a Hawkeye Always a Hawkeye Tailgate Party at Hy-Vee in Muscatine.
Last year’s event featured just McNutt, but Bernstine decided to join his former teammate and both signed autographs and took pictures with fans at the party, which included a bean-bag toss tournament, music, kids games and prizes.
“From the things Marvin told me about the event, I just thought it would be a great opportunity to get back around Hawk fans,” said Bernstine, who was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL draft. “Being on the east coast, I don’t see the black and gold as much as I would like.”
For McNutt, he felt he had to return to Muscatine after last year’s warm welcome.
“This event is just something special,” McNutt said. “Last year they (fans) came out and showed a lot of support and I knew, regardless of if it was one person that wanted me to come down here, I was going to try and make sure to come down here again.
“Anything you can give back to Hawk fans, anytime, is just a great opportunity, especially because in your college years they gave you so much.”
McNutt was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL draft, was cut and then re-signed to the Eagles practice squad before being released by Philadelphia on May 14. Two days later, McNutt was claimed off waiver by the Miami Dolphins.
“You got to take it one step at a time,” said McNutt, who holds Iowa’s career record for yards and touchdowns receiving. “First and foremost, you got to get on the 53 (man-roster). … You want create something that you did more than college, you always want to get better. It’s another opportunity to step forward and get on the football field again.”
Bernstine made the 53-man roster as a rookie, but spent the season on injured reserve after tearing multiple ligaments in his knee in his NFL debut against the New Orleans Saints.
“That’s priority No. 1: just to get back on the field,” Bernstine said. “Once I am back on the field, then it just becomes a game of production.”