May 1, 2023 // Diocese
Bishop Dwenger Grad Joe Tippmann Selected by New York Jets in NFL Draft
After months of preparation and speculation, Joe Tippmann’s football future is finally clear.
Big Joe is headed to the Big Apple.
The Bishop Dwenger High School graduate and two-year starter for the Wisconsin Badgers heard his name called in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft on Friday, April 28. The New York Jets selected Joe with the 43rd overall pick, making him the first center taken off the board. However, Joe first had to endure some “super intense” moments of uncertainty as he waited for one of the teams that had shown interest in him to make a move.
“So, we’re sitting there, and I see a New Jersey number pop up on my phone, and I knew what that meant,” recalled Joe, who was watching the draft in Fort Wayne at the home of his parents, John and Kim Tippmann. Joe answered the phone and spoke to the owner, general manager, and head coach of the Jets organization while his family members surrounding him did their best to hold it together. “I’m just seeing the reactions on everyone’s faces; I’m tearing up myself — it was truly a breathtaking moment.”
“As soon as he hung up, there was a pretty big roar of cheering — lots of emotions,” said John. “There was an extreme amount of stress relieved. I was stressed for him; both Kim and I could tell he was a little more relaxed Friday than he was Thursday.”
Joe shared the unforgettable experience with about a hundred people who had gathered together at the Tippmann residence — both his close family members assembled in one room, and his extended family, friends, teammates, and coaches who soon joined in the celebration.
“All of his siblings, his grandma, everyone was in room with us, they were all hugging,” said Kim. “And after that, he went outside the room we were in, and people came up to him — coaches from the past, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends — they went on grabbing pictures, hugging, and thanking each other.”
One of those former coaches is someone who will forever hold a unique connection with Joe. Jason Fabini, who coached Joe on the offensive line at both St. Charles Borromeo and Bishop Dwenger, was also drafted by the Jets back in 1998 and played eight seasons in New York.
“Jason Fabini was super excited about it,” said John. “He immediately sent his kids home to grab all his Jets gear. He said, ‘Go clear out the Jets drawers, boys!’ They brought all his stuff over and were handing it to people, whoever wanted to wear it.”
“As soon as I got the call, I thought of him,” Joe said of Fabini. “Just being able to learn from him — he’s been my mentor since 5th grade. For me to end up getting drafted by the same organization, I think 25 years later, it’s truly amazing.”
The Jets also made sense to Joe from a football perspective, ever since flying him out for a pre-draft visit.
“In our meetings, they told me that there were opportunities to be on that team, that if everything falls in the right situation, they were going to be drafting me,” said Joe. He will be given an opportunity to compete for a starting spot at center, a position he held for 22 games at Wisconsin after converting from a guard. However, Joe made it clear that his preferred position is “whatever gets me on the field.”
Of course, if Joe stays at center, he will likely be snapping the ball to veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who the Jets acquired via trade the week of the draft. The four-time NFL Most Valuable Player texted Joe the morning after he was drafted, congratulating him and stating that he can’t wait to get to work with Joe in New York.
“Just waking up and seeing that, I guess that was when it sank in that I’d get to be learning from one of the best,” admitted Joe.
After all the draft-night chaos began to subside at the Tippmann’s, Joe’s siblings got to work calculating drive times to New York, researching flights and airports, and determining what game destinations were manageable for travel. Although the Jets aren’t scheduled to play many games close to home this upcoming season — a visit to the Cleveland Browns being the stop nearest to Fort Wayne — Joe’s family is ready to support him regardless.
“We’re pretty happy for him,” said John. “He’s worked so hard, and it’s a great team to get picked by. We’d be happy wherever he went, but it’s at least a little closer than some of the west coast teams.”
As Joe prepares to leave home on May 4 to report to rookie minicamp, he’ll be taking his Catholic faith with him on the next phase of his journey.
“There’s going to me more things coming onto my plate, more of a platform being an NFL athlete, more opportunities to do what I’ve always wanted to do, especially with more resources, time, and availability,” Joe said of living out his faith as a professional athlete. “It’s something I need to hold close to my heart as I move forward.”
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