With The First Pick…

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090512_Football_Classics_smEvery little boy who picks up a football and dashes around his friends in the back yard has the dream of one day doing it in front of thousands of adoring fans. With every advancing level of play, a few of them continue to advance toward that dream.

For many players, the dream is underway. These guys are on the road to success in the NFL as they get discussed by scouts, viewed by coaches, and evaluated by GM’s as the draft approaches. Some will hear their names called, some will go home jobless. But for all, the night represents an opportunity to start, even if the commissioner never shakes their hands.

What goes into motion for these players when the league can begin to make commitments with them? What can fans do to keep up? Technology like team and league websites, sports apps, and NFL SUNDAY TICKET makes it easier to keep up with these players from the moment they catch the league’s attention and follow them in whatever they do. It’s not always a straight path from college to an NFL career and subsequent pension, but the doors that open on draft night can lead to a lot of different places.

Riches Beyond Their Dreams

For those lucky few who get the #1 jerseys and the smiling photo ops, the money comes to town right away. Guaranteed contracts can make these guys millionaires overnight. Historically, we have seen that many of them will start blowing their wealth overnight, too. They then end up nearly penniless when they get cut, get hurt, or just don’t work out.

The moment is a great opportunity otherwise, though. Many start early in their careers doing good things for others. While these players typically have truly selfless motives at heart, there can be a benefit to them as well. Many foundations and charities turn out to be a great place to land when the knee gives out or the back won’t heal. When players have developed a purpose for themselves off the field–despite their success and wealth on it–they can be set for life.

A Foot In The Door…Or Through The Door

Many players go without an offer on draft night. Late-round picks and undrafted free agents have a single goal: Just to be noticed, to get onto a roster long enough to gather the attention of some coaches and parlay that into a permanent spot.

It’s tough. There are hundreds of guys out there jockeying for every slot on every roster. The ones that succeed are those that don’t think of themselves as having a tiny opportunity to get through, but instead turn a glimmer of light into a blinding performance in practice. Sometimes the draft is enough to get the most from a player; other times, it’s going undrafted that lights the fire.

Either way, these players run faster, jump higher, and hit harder than they ever have during workouts and camps, because they understand that any attention at all from the pros can be all the break they need.

Getting On The Mic

Sometimes we take a circuitous path to our ultimate career destination. The powerful lineman who plans on going pro and then blows a shoulder two seasons in can feel lost, as if he’s missed his only goal in life. Then he gives an eloquent, intelligent interview and catches a TV producer’s eye, and before long he’s a sideline reporter working his way up to being a color man in the booth.

Obviously there are more players than reporters in the NFL, but there are countless other related jobs. John Elway is in the front office. Lots of players have endorsements and make personal appearances. There are jobs in the Hall of Fame, the league offices, and so many more places where even a brief NFL stint is valuable.

The whole point is this: Players who get a little experience or a lot of experience in the NFL after the draft can find positive impacts for the rest of their lives. It will be great fun to see where this year’s draft leads them…and their fans.