Like all kids, when I was young, I thought my idols were perfect. I thought they gotten to their respective places of prominence because they were simply better than everyone else. Not just athletically, but morally, too, and maybe even academically. Sure, no one bats 1.000 across the board, but people that had reached the top had done it solely on merit, I figured. Any mistakes they’d made along the way were pure happenstance.
Then I started hearing things like I heard last week from an ex-scout, who told a story of joining several other scouts one night after the draft wrapped up to run 40s on the stadium turf in the dead of a cold, windy night. Naturally, this activity had been prompted by several rounds of adult beverages, and ultimately ended with a high-level NFL executive tearing his hamstring.
I also heard that Major League Football, the latest alternative league vying to sell tickets to a suspicious public, drafted an NFL starter this year. And this league is run primarily by former NFL scouts, coaches and executives.
Meanwhile, today I got an email from a longtime subscriber who said he and his client had gotten very excited by a series of enthusiastic texts from an NFL team. Unfortunately, the texts came to a screeching halt when the team realized it was communicating with an underrated free agent teammate of the top-five pick they thought they were talking to. “That might go to show why they are always at the bottom of the league,” my friend said.
The point is that nobody’s perfect. From these stories, I hope you find encouragement. I hope these examples take a little pressure off of you. God knows I’m far from perfect, and I’ve been able to carve out a small toehold in the business. You can, too. Even if you’re not related to an NFL owner, and didn’t come from a Power Five school, and didn’t get straight-A’s in your sport management classes.
The people that run NFL teams, and that scout for them, and that coach them, and every other job associated with pro football, are just that: people. Work extra hard to make as many breaks as you can get, and when you get them, work until you’re blinded by blood, sweat and tears. But never believe that you aren’t good enough to make it, for any reason, because you are.