Freaks! On the NFL Draft and Prospects

Interesting write up in the Journal Sentinel about the players with Wisconsin ties getting ready for the NFL draft, here. Bottom line, as discussed before, the NFL is a business. All those guys we cheer for in the Cardinal and White? Scouts say things like, "just a guy," "never blocks anybody," "not very good." These are multi-year starters, all-Big Ten players, all-Americans. So, yeah, it's a business. On top of that, to be a pro athlete you need to be a freak of nature. I claim no credit for this thought; a fellow Badger was the first to make the argument to me, but it's right on. To make it as a pro athlete -- to play a few years for league minimum (which is a lot, I will grant you) -- a guy needs to be a freak of nature. Maybe he's unnaturally large. Maybe he's unnaturally fast. Unnaturally strong. Maybe only well above average talent and size, but an unnatural work ethic, which always sounds like, "oh, he really worked hard to get here," as if it wasn't freakish that the guy could pull it off. But it is.

Thinking about all those guys who are stars in Madison, few make NFL rosters, fewer start, and the number of stars in "the League?" Minimal.

I've played a lot of sports [badly] over the years. I've played basketball with Division 1 scholarship players who are head and shoulders above anyone else I've seen. Nowhere close to NBA talent. The pitcher with the 88-mph cannon for an arm? 3-4 mph too slow. The best kid on my little league baseball team, the best my old coach said he's ever had in now 30 years, made it up to triple A and plataued. That's pretty darned good. But it's not the show. Of all the people I ever played with and against, there's been one legit pro athlete. He is a hockey player who projected as a journeyman in the NHL. Decided he'd do better if he finished school. He was right (he did better). I played with him many years after he'd abandoned serious hockey. Now approaching 50, he's still leaps and bounds better than anyone I've ever seen skate with or against him.

Anyway, I think the lesson here is stay in school and take it seriously. Even the freaks only make a living at it for a few years.

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