Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

I recently had a coffee (for the record, I don’t like or drink coffee, but he did) with a former NFL player who was trying to return to the NFL after being unexpectedly released from his former NFL team. While the purpose of meeting was to mostly catch up and see what he was doing in his life, it spawned my memory of the many times I have heard his all too familiar story. This “in-between jobs” ( fancy way of saying he is not in the NFL) player is only one year removed from his playing days and would like one more chance at playing in the NFL.

He is not old by any means. He is not injured. He does not have any “bad character” issues, but he is one of the thousands of players every year who is vying for one of the limited 1,696 spots on the final NFL roster.

My issue and concern is that he is a veteran player with no professional (outside of football) work experience, no college degree, no stable income producing investments, and no clear direction or thoughts as to what he plans to do after his playing career is over, which could very well be now.

For the person who never played in the NFL, it is hard for him or her to truly fathom the pressure and stress associated with the potential career change and lifestyle change that is inevitable. When your dreams and everything you have worked for is suddenly taken away from you, it makes for a rather difficult lifestyle adjustment.

So I then asked him, “Where is RB Stephen Davis (CAR/WAS)? Where is WR Michael Westbrook (WAS)? Where is the No. 10 overall draft choice from the 2005 NFL Draft (WR Mike Williams, DET)?” The simple answer; they are not in the NFL, and almost non existent in the public arena. These guys where once well-recognized names in the NFL, but are well beyond their playing days in the NFL, and it remains to be seen whether they are making anywhere near the salaries they were commanding as professional athletes.

I also reminded him, there are another 1,000 players from this past draft that are interested in taking his spot and he cannot just sit around waiting on the phone to ring thinking he is the only person at his position that teams will want.

I will never forget sitting in the meeting room during my rookie year in the NFL. There were about eight running backs in the room and the coach said to us, “All of you in here won’t make this team.” I looked around the room and said to myself, “Well, I know he is not talking to me, because I just got here, and I am going to be here.” Well, guess what, I was the one of the ones he was talking to!  I then used that time to leverage my relationships in the NFL to gain an internship that put me a professional career path that has turned out to be pretty decent.

I only hope my friend understands the value of our conversation and looks to our services at 44 management as a resource to help him with that transition, before it is too late.

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