Monday, April 11, 2011

Potential rookies learn that the NFL is not a game

I know that it’s cliché to say it, but playing in a professional sports league is not a game; it is a business.  Potential NFL rookies hoping to be selected in this year’s draft class are learning that lesson before being selected to a team.  The NFL and NFLPA are still at an impasse over a new collective bargaining.  As the NFL prepares for its annual draft event, the future rookies are deciding if they should attend the draft in New York.

In response to a question about whether he would attend the NFL’s draft event, defensive lineman Marcell Dareus from Alabama, said that he had not made a decision, but would focus on him, not worry about what they have going on and let things come as they may.  I was perplexed by his reference to “they.”  I assume he meant the NFL and NFLPA, but was shocked that he found himself to be outside of the conversations.  I wonder how many other prospective NFL players have that perspective. 

As future NFL players, the potential draftees must realize that they are no longer college players aspiring to play in the league.  They are entering a career in the NFL.  This labor dispute is about “them” not “they.”  The results of the negotiations and ultimately new collective bargaining agreement will affect them.

I recognize that these are young men who have dreamed of reaching this stage for most of their lives.  Unfortunately, on the cusp of achieving one of their biggest goals, they are forced to decide whether or not they will experience that moment the way that they have always imagined.  This does not cancel the fact that the NFL locked out the players, including members of this year’s draft class.   

During the lockout players cannot have any contact with team owners and coaches.  As a result, NFL players like New York Jets quarterback, Mark Sanchez, are planning workouts of their own.  I believe that the incoming rookies should do the same thing with the draft and celebrate on their own. 

Playing football at the professional level is not simply about putting on pads and doing the best at your position.  It is a business.  Rookies from this class need to grasp that understanding early and stand with current players.  After all, if the labor dispute continues they will not have a rookie season this year.

Heels & Helmets®

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