This morning, I read an email from the parent of a player who was part of the 2013 draft class. This player was an average draft prospect; he participated in an all-star game, but not a top-rated game such as the Senior Bowl or Shrine Game. He played at a big-name, high-gloss, nationally ranked program, but wasn’t a four-year starter and wasn’t highly decorated. Despite this solid-but-not-glowing resume, his parent was decrying the NFL for snubbing him and trashed the FXFL, the upstart league that kicks off this fall and hopes to become a developmental league for the NFL.
This afternoon, I was talking to an agent who’s also a friend; he’s been an ITL client for years. We were discussing a member of the 2014 draft class who had beaten the odds and signed with a major agency despite meager long-term NFL prospects. My friend said his agency had taken a run at the player, but pulled off early because his parents saw him as The Second Coming, and had been dismissive toward most agents during recruiting in his senior year. He wound up going late in this spring’s draft.
On Wednesday, I read an email from an agent who’s a longtime client. He signed a player as part of the ’14 draft class from a small-time FBS school with a mediocre record during his career. This player only started one season and recorded minimal stats his senior year, but he tested out of sight at his school’s pro day, and on the strength of his 40 time, landed a camp invite this summer before getting cut last week. This agent, who’s very conscientious, led off his email with the statement, “If I don’t get him a workout, his father will blame me for the rest of his life.”
So here’s the common thread to these three stories, which aren’t uncommon this time of year: unrealistic parents. If you’re the parent of a college athlete who entertains dreams of an NFL career, please read and re-read the following paragraphs.
The NFL is not a league for good players. It’s a league for great players. The league also offers no reward for starting four years in college; or for being a scholarship player at a big-name school; or because a player’s parent is an ex-NFL great.
If your son is ‘on the street’ right now, i.e., not on the 53-man roster OR the (newly expanded this year) practice squad, it’s because he’s not good enough, and he has more work to do. Don’t take this personally, but also, don’t dismiss this. If he’s truly interested in playing in the NFL, he needs to find a place where he can get better. Now.
I know that, for parents, it’s very frustrating to see a son miss out on opportunities, given that he’s always enjoyed success on the gridiron. However, if you’re truly interested in helping him get to the NFL, swallow your pride and take a good look around, and acknowledge that he’s got a long uphill battle if he’s not in the league. His failure to make it is not due to his agent, or a coach, or a league that’s unresponsive. It’s simply because he’s not good enough (yet). Do what you can to help him improve his game. Don’t blame someone else.