We try to celebrate the victories of those who take the long road to success in football in this space. I can’t think of anyone who fits that description more than Rand Getlin, the former Yahoo! Sports writer who announced today that he’ll be joining the NFL Network. Let me tell you Rand’s story of success, at least from my point of view.

My association with Rand started in the early days of ITL, probably around 2005 or 2006. At the time, Rand had gotten to know Josh Luchs, an L.A.-based agent at the Gersh Agency who had a sizeable NFL agent practice. Josh went on to write an article you might have read — if you haven’t read it, stop right now and do so —  followed by a book you might have read, but that’s a story for another day. Rand cut his teeth with Josh after Luchs had ‘gone straight,’ but in short order, Josh got out of the business, leaving Rand a bit stranded.

I think it was after Josh had left the agent world that Rand became an ITL subscriber, somewhere around 2007 or ’08. At the time, Rand was not content to just attend the prestigious USC law school, but also serve as half of a libertarian think tank, the Prometheus Institute (here’s a story about his work there). Like most people who get a taste of the football business, Rand wasn’t ready to give up, so he took his passion for the game and the players in it and started a service aimed at educating schools about the agent process. Long story short, the goal was to protect young men playing the game from being the next ones featured on ‘Broke.’ Despite a couple years of fighting tooth and nail to interest schools, he got no traction. Sadly, he learned that schools’ football interests don’t always intersect with players’ interests once they’re done. We kept in touch through his struggles, but lost touch when he finally shelved it.

The next time I heard from Rand, he had earned his way into a role with Yahoo! Sports. How he landed that, despite no formal ‘big journalism’ experience, is a story best-told by Rand, but bottom line, he quickly evolved into a prize-winning writer, penning some of the most intriguing stories in the football business over the last 3-5 years (here’s one of them). After a well-earned reputation as a highly connected news-breaker, he’s taken the next big step in his career, and I’m sure you’ll soon see him with a prominent on-air role.

There are three things I love about Rand’s story, besides the fact it’s awesome to see a good friend make the big-time. One, Rand is entrepreneurial. He wasn’t content to try only traditional jobs in the business. He tried identifying markets to attack, putting his own spin on things until he broke through. Second, he doesn’t quit. He hit road blocks in the agent world, then in his own college education venture, but never quite trying. That’s incredibly important. Third, he’s a regular guy who gives credit to people who helped him along the way. He’s been a guest at our annual combine seminar (he knocked it out of the park, by the way), and he’s always been a true friend of ITL. I can’t say that about everyone I’ve worked with.

If you’ve never heard of Rand, follow him on Twitter (especially if you like cars as much as you like football). But more importantly, take inspiration from Rand’s story. He started with no connections and built a career on his smarts and hard work. You can do it, too.