Every year the NFL Draft comes around and time seems to slow down for this one special event. A selected group of special young men from every walk of life finally get a ticket to the Big Show. Football fans all over the world wait and watch as NFL teams roll the dice on young studs who can help their respective team find their way to a Super Bowl. Cheers echo off television sets throughout the country as parents and grandparents hug and kiss their pride and joy on national tv. Girlfriends, Baby Mommas, and sidepieces are the only people on this night feeling like the end is near, as their meal ticket slips through their hands.
The chance is slim to none at getting your name called tonight. Years of sacrifice, hard work, and dreams are answered and shattered in a single day. The chances of any high school football player making it to the promise land a.k.a NFL are about 0.2 percent. This is based on statistics that say only 215 out of 100,000 high school seniors who grace the field every year will actually make it to the NFL. Listen up! This stat goes out to the insane hardo football mom and dads. Only 9,000 people of the 100,000 make it to play college ball. So let him chase his passion and not yours.
Sports channels, with current and former football players, openly talk about every prospect going into this year's draft. Drives me bat shit crazy because some, if not most, of these prospects are overhyped and won't make it to play long enough for you to remember who the hell they are. They never talk about how to survive the NFL in your first three years. So, I’ve decided to drop the game for the young studs to survive once they get their foot in the door.
Let’s start with the temple, your locker room. It’s important to develop a solid relationship with the equipment staff. Get to know their names, these guys are important on many levels. They know more about the team and how it operates than a vet who’s been on the team for five years. They know all secrets about the team, from the coaches to the players to the training staff to the owner. Their job is to make sure you look good, feel good and smell good. On top of all that when it comes down to contract time, the front office will visit them to see if you're respectful to the staff or if you're an absolute fucking Diva. Something we use to do is slip the boys some cash if they did something special for you. Think about it: they spend the whole day washing and cleaning a bunch of young millionaires' underwear. Putting up with spoiled assholes complaining about cleats and having to wear knee pads. If one of your guys in the equipment room makes sure you have extra gloves or fresh pants or even new shoes for the game, then slip him something as a thank you. Or a case of beer, sometimes lunches once a while makes them feel good too. Bottom line is that respect goes a long way.
On to the lunchroom, be careful in here. Rule of thumb: never gets snarky with someone handling your food. You may end up with the shits right before practice. The lunchroom staff can be different, they're usually a wacky cast of folks, ranging from the young chef with new-age recipes to help you do your job to old Slappy in the back who can cook up some soul food that would make you want to slap your momma. It’s important not to complain too much either. If you don't like what they're serving, just don't fucking eat it. Clean up after yourself, it’s sad I have to say it but I do. Some of these guys are animals. Please for the love of God don't steal the fucking salt and pepper shakers. They costs 2 bucks at the dollar store, go get your own.
The janitors are your allies, too. They see and are aware of everything, just because they clean the johns don't mean you can be a slob. A casual conversation and some acknowledgment with these guys makes their day. Remember, you’re never too important to say hello.
Your strength coach can be a wild card. If you work hard and show up on time for your lifts then life is sweet. Unless you have an issue with your weight, some teams fine guys if they're too heavy. This is where your personal relationship with your straight coach and the staff comes into play. People tend to bend a little for guys who ball out, so get on the field, strength coaches can be your saving grace or your worst nightmare. Remember everything you do is recorded: attendance, weight, your efforts, etc., it all counts. Move accordingly
The Training Room, sorry to say it but you need these guys. Don't trust everyone though, they work for the team not you. Number one rule, you can’t make the club in tub stay healthy. However, they're meant to keep you on the field. Learn all their names, some probably have nicknames but don't get too comfortable, start slow. Find your guy, someone who you can trust on a personal level, he’s going to keep you in the game. He will tape you up, Ice and stem, help you through your rehab when you get dinged. Stay with you in case you need extra treatment, push you when you're having a down day. Give you then heads when they hear your name pop up in certain conversations. It takes a while to get close to someone in the training room, don't expose it all you too fast. Slow and steady, always get a second opinion if you get hurt. Trust yourself before a team doctor. It’s your career not theirs.
Your position coach can be your everything or an absolute scumbag. Believe it or not, he's there to help you, when you eat, he eats, you need each other. Learning to listen is a lost skill, leave your ego at the door, rookies always eat shit, it’s not personal. Never tell your coach what you won't do or can't do. You won't last long. Most position coaches played the game, so they have been in your shoes before, respect them and be a workhorse. Be willing to get donuts, hold bags, and sing in front of the team if need be. It may seem worthless but it goes a long way, you're pretty much telling your teammates you don't take yourself too seriously and you're down to do whatever it takes to win. One rule of advice, no one has ever been cut from a team for hitting the guy in front of the first, coaches like aggression, not pussies.
Teammates, this one is short and simple for me. Treat everyone with respect, don't take shit from anyone. Be selfless, but look after yourself first. Not hard to do, just understand friends can’t feed your family and this is your job. You're not one team till the open day, that’s when the “we are one “ speeches happen. Until then, fuck everybody.
Your head coaches come and go. If you last long enough you’ll see that. The great ones know to communicate and execute. They see it all and hear it all. When it comes to earning their trust, they will be the hardest. They all have a roll-a-dex of guys who can replace you. You just worry about doing your job. when they need you, they will call you. Other than that don't be distraction, being reliable goes a long way, you earn that by your willingness to do jobs others won't do.
It’s a hell of a ride, embrace it all, because when it’s over it over. Best of luck to this year's NFL Draft class 2021. You're gonna need it.