As you know if you read this blog, I have a free newsletter detailing the pre-NFL draft process that I send at no charge to parents of NFL draft prospects. As a result, as I’ve promoted this, I’ve had a lot of conversations with fathers of players hoping to be drafted next spring.
Two dads I spoke to recently were polar opposites, one a perfect example of the way parents should be and one more closely resembling the way they (unfortunately) sometimes are.
We’ll start with the one that maybe doesn’t yet get it. He called because he wanted to interview me before consenting to receive the newsletter; his son is most likely strictly a camp guy, though I didn’t dare tell him that.
From the moment we started talking, I knew he was very skeptical that I had anything to offer. He’d ask a question and I’d answer it, followed by a long pause, as if he weren’t impressed and was looking for something more. At one point he asked how I got paid, even though I had already told him (over and over) that what we were discussing came with no obligations whatsoever. When I finally conceded that mine was a subscriber service, though that was completely separate from the newsletter, he chuckled. I guess he was looking for an apology for my running a for-profit service. But that’s not really what bothered me.
What bothered me was that when we were finishing things up, and I was trying to patiently reiterate what I had already told him — that though there was plenty of ‘draft information’ on the web, the data I was offering was tailor-made for him — he was pretty dismissive. “There’s lots of information on the Internet, and you can find anything,” he assured me. “The problem is finding out what’s reliable and what isn’t.”
We closed with him informing me that he’d talk to his son and that they would decide if the promise of my (free) newsletter was worth their time. I’m going to go ahead with my life rather than waiting for that call.
The other dad I spoke to has been a pleasure because he really ‘gets it.’ We spoke just this week for the first time, and before we did, I called around and did a little legwork on where his son stood as a prospect. As I feared, I got back that his son is a solid college player who probably figures as a late-rounder or perhaps priority free agent.
When we got to the part where I wanted to offer up the scouts’ opinion, I remember wincing as I began. How would he react? What would his response be? I was pleasantly surprised. “That’s pretty much what we expected,” he said. The rest of our conversation continued in that vein, with him asking detailed questions about the process and my opinion on a smart course of action. It was refreshing to speak to a parent who is invested in his son’s career, but clearly hasn’t put blinders on. He knows and values the opportunity that’s ahead for his son and realizes not to take it for granted.
Maybe that’s what makes me the most frustrated by the other father. As a father myself, I try to remember that the things that make my boys special to my wife and me are maybe not so rare. But the number of young men who’ve had a little college success and aspire to an NFL career is NOT rare. Not by a long shot.
Wherever you are in your career — parent of aspiring player, aspiring football professional, media, current NFL agent, whatever — be reasonable in your approach, and understand that the place you want to be isn’t assured. It will make things a lot easier as you hit bumps in the road.