When KaVontae Turpin's phone rang on Tuesday night and it was Cowboys' owner/general manager Jerry Jones on the line, he wasn't quite sure what to expect.
"The first thing that hit my mind was 'Dang I got cut,'" Turpin said. "Because most people don't get calls from the owner, but that was the first thing that came to my mind. That I had gotten cut."
Quite the opposite, actually. Instead, it was Jones calling to personally congratulate the Cowboys' electric rookie return man on his selection to the 2022 Pro Bowl, making him the first player in franchise history to earn the honors primarily as a punt/kick return specialist and one of seven Cowboys' players to be selected on Wednesday.
"It brought me to tears," Turpin said of the call. "It's been a long journey the way I came into the NFL, and to have that individual recognition is a dream come true."
Making the Pro Bowl was just the latest part of Turpin's magical and sometimes tumultuous journey to the NFL. Signed during training camp after wrapping up his MVP campaign in USFL over the summer, Turpin has quickly become a fan favorite with his sensational speed and ability to leave fans on the edge of their seat when he is back deep.
But the journey of course has not always been easy. Having more than enough talent to be drafted coming out of TCU, off the field issues kept Turpin from getting a call on draft night, and thus forcing him to take the road less traveled.
That road took to Atlanta and the Fan-Controlled Football League with the Glacier Boyz before heading to the Sea Lions in Houston as part of the Spring League. Next, Turpin took his game internationally to Wroclaw, Poland in the ELF with the Panthers. That led him back to the states with the New Jersey Generals with the USFL, and eventually to the place he had worked so hard to get to.
For a guy that has not taken a break from football in over two years, Tuesday night's call from the Cowboys' owner on his Pro Bowl selection was almost a sense of vindication for Turpin after nearly losing the football altogether.
"It's been a long journey," Turpin said. "Coming here to the NFL in my first year and making the Pro Bowl, going with no rest, no time to get my body right, no recovery time other than leaving the USFL… It was great. A once in a lifetime experience."
Turpin said that Jones probably couldn't tell that he was emotional on the other end of the phone, but there were absolutely "tears of joy coming down" with the level of excitement he had. But, in the name of keeping things professional, Turpin tried to keep it together.
"I kept it together," he said. "I tried to keep it professional with him because that was basically my first time talking to him on the phone. I didn't really know what to expect from him. This is Jerry Jones; you have to be professional when you're talking to the owner of the team."
The tears were well-earned nevertheless, serving as the reminder of the road to redemption Turpin took and just how tirelessly he worked to not only be in the NFL, but now considered one of the best at his position.