As the NFL Network’s broadcast kicks off and I sit here among unpacked bags, exhausted from a return trip home but excited for what lies ahead over the next three days, I’m in a bit of a reflective mood.
Today, my reflection turns to how quickly things can turn, especially when it comes to an NFL player’s value. I think there’s value in weighing the way things have turned out, especially for people considering making the NFL their profession. First, a story about this year’s draft.
Tuesday night, my wife and I were fortunate enough to be invited to a get-together in Chicago hosted by the Sports and Entertainment Division of Morgan Stanley. It was wonderful, casual yet upscale, in a perfect setting at a classy bar at the Dana Hotel downtown. There were probably 300 people there, including people from all around the football industry: agents, financial planners, trainers, parents and relatives of players, and of course, players. It’s always fun to meet with players in a relaxed setting, especially when the hay is in the barn, so to speak, just days before the draft. Among the players there was LSU OT La’el Collins. But first, let’s flash back to earlier in the week.
On Sunday, I gotten a call from a source who’s very connected in Baton Rouge. He told me police were interested in talking to Collins regarding the murder of a young woman Saturday night. My source said Collins was the father, and hinted that it looked like a Rae Carruth situation. He urged me to investigate further.
That was a tough task for me. I have a small shop and a limited bandwidth, so I couldn’t put resources toward a wild goose chase through law enforcement and legal channels Monday and Tuesday, hoping for a scoop. While it looked like a juicy tip, and I couldn’t dismiss its veracity, it just wasn’t something I could act on. There was also one question I had: if a player wanted a former lover murdered, wouldn’t the killer make sure the baby didn’t survive?
Fast forward to Tuesday night. I didn’t get to speak to Collins, but I did exchange pleasantries with his agent, Deryk Gilmore of Priority Sports. It’d been a bumpy ride the past couple months for Gilmore and he looked relieved to be finishing up the lunacy of the annual draft hype-fest.
Less than two days later, the world of Collins, Gilmore, and everyone associated with them has been turned upside-down in a way no one could have foreseen as recently as a week ago. In a time when Aaron Hernandez’s conviction is still ringing in the ears of team officials, umerous reports indicate Collins has been removed from numerous draft boards.
Obviously, it will be a long time before all the facts of the case have been decided and all voices heard. However, Collins’ potential fall is perhaps the most meteoric of any player I can remember in a long time.
Keep the names of Collins and Johnny Manziel, another player whose fall from grace is measured in seconds, not years, in mind as you decide whether the fish bowl life of the NFL is for you.