Skip to content

Rashaan Salaam offers some advice on how not to be a bust

Getty Images

Rashaan Salaam was a Heisman Trophy winner, a first-round draft pick of the Bears and a 1,000-yard rusher as a rookie. And then he was cut by the Bears by the age of 23.

Looking back on his career now, Salaam has some advice for this year’s first-round draft picks: Don’t be lazy like I was.

I didn’t realize coming up how much work you had to put in once you got to the NFL,” Salaam told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s a whole different lifestyle. You have to change the way you live. You have to change who you hang out with. You have to totally get focused on your game. You have the athletic ability, but if you don’t put the work behind it, nothing will come from it.”

Salaam said he enjoyed partying and enjoyed smoking pot, but didn’t enjoy working out. When he was able to step onto the field as a rookie and — despite a lengthy contract holdout that had him miss training camp — instantly become the Bears’ No. 1 rusher, he thought the NFL would come as easily to him as football at every other level always had. As it turned out, after that impressive rookie year Salaam would gain a grand total of just 610 yards in the remainder of his NFL career.

“I had no discipline. I had all the talent in the world,” Salaam recalled. “You know, great body, great genes. But I had no work ethic and I had no discipline. The better you get, the harder you have to work. The better I got, the lazier I got. . . . My whole life, up until the Chicago Bears . . . everything was perfect. You know, Parade All-American, Heisman Trophy winner. . . . So I was bound to go through some challenges. Going to the pros at 20 years old and not being disciplined.”

Anyone who’s good enough to be a first-round NFL draft pick is an incredible natural athlete. What Salaam wants all those first-round picks to know is that being an incredible natural athlete isn’t enough. That’s something he figured out only after the NFL was done with him.

Permalink 58 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Chicago Bears, Rumor Mill, Top Stories
58 Responses to “Rashaan Salaam offers some advice on how not to be a bust”
  1. warrenmoon says: May 1, 2012 9:08 AM

    He still ran for more yards than Russel threw. I can’t wait to hear his advice. “Don’t drink cough syrup and eat your problems away.” I don’t think he figured that out yet though

  2. TSizzleBallSoHard says: May 1, 2012 9:09 AM

    That’s a good message to send to these young guys.

  3. waitingguilty says: May 1, 2012 9:10 AM

    Rarely do you hear unmitigated honesty from busts like Salaam. Usually there is always an element of blame placed on someone or something else. It’s nice to hear and hopefully the guys that need to hear it do.

  4. clarkisgod says: May 1, 2012 9:11 AM

    Everyone makes mistakes…. I was scared as a packer fan when he got drafted. Too bad his talent was wasted!

  5. agelardi says: May 1, 2012 9:12 AM

    Nice to hear him take responsibilty.

  6. cali49er707 says: May 1, 2012 9:13 AM

    damn ………. thats some real talk right there!!!!! i give him credit for manning up & owning up to his faults, its always easier to blame somebody else!!! instead he owned up, i wish him well!!!

  7. hashsview says: May 1, 2012 9:14 AM

    Good valid points. And a good rule of thumb rookies, never stay out later then midnight. Nothing good ever happens after midnight.

  8. yahmule says: May 1, 2012 9:16 AM

    It’s nice to see him take responsibility. A lot of people who’ve blown their opportunities blame everybody except themselves, even several years after the fact.

  9. packattack1967 says: May 1, 2012 9:17 AM

    Good on you Salaaam.

  10. ticklemepickle77 says: May 1, 2012 9:18 AM

    It’s nice to see one of these busts to be humble and accept the mistakes that they made.

  11. terraj35 says: May 1, 2012 9:18 AM

    Nice to see a player taking responsibility for struggling in the NFL after being such a great player. Seems like most busts blame is on someone else or a substance they abused rather than their lack of work ethic.

  12. therealdmuls says: May 1, 2012 9:23 AM

    It’s nice when someone actually takes responsibility for their actions and doesn’t try to place blame on other factors.

  13. chc4 says: May 1, 2012 9:25 AM

    Between him and Curtis Enis the Bears have had their fair share of busts at RB!

  14. biggerballz says: May 1, 2012 9:25 AM

    he sounds like a smart guy, i wonder what he does now for a living or if he saved all his money.

  15. joetoronto says: May 1, 2012 9:25 AM

    I remember that by the time he actually gave it his all, he was done physically, what a shame.

    Hats off to Rashaan for his honesty.

  16. juliuspeppersandonions says: May 1, 2012 9:28 AM

    Refreshing to hear some actually take responsibility for their action once in a while. Imagine what this guy could have been now that he admitted he was “lazy” when he was playing for the Chicago Bears… RGIII take note, a one year wonder in college: better get ready for the next level son.

  17. vegaskid21 says: May 1, 2012 9:33 AM

    I can’t imagine Jamarcus Russell or Ryan Leaf admiting to being lazy.

  18. Pacific NW Mark says: May 1, 2012 9:34 AM

    It’s sound advice from someone who’s been there, but in my experience many 22- and 23-year olds really aren’t interested in advice.

  19. turdfurgerson68 says: May 1, 2012 9:36 AM

    It’s obvious that he wasn’t mature enough to have the discipline needed for an NFL player…unfortunately, many young men don’t mature until there mid-20’s or so.

    Maybe this is a blessing in disguise….his immaturity spared him probably another 1000+ blows to his head.

  20. kronix7 says: May 1, 2012 9:38 AM

    I’d say he’s probably doing okay for himself. When you are able to be honest with yourself, you can move forward.

  21. torturedraiderfan says: May 1, 2012 9:38 AM

    Hey JaMarcus!!! Sound familiar?

  22. anarchopurplism says: May 1, 2012 9:39 AM

    Way to man-up and own it

  23. uwsptke says: May 1, 2012 9:45 AM

    Sounds similar to what Tony Mandarich has been saying over the past decade. Except instead of weed, his drugs of choice were steroids (which he quit cold-turkey once his NFL career started) but then got hooked on pain killers. By his own admission, he wasn’t sober for a single day that he spent in Green Bay. After sitting on the couch for a few years, he wound up salvaging what was left of his career with the Colts. Unfortunately Salaam must have been too old to make a comeback by the time he figured things out.

  24. k0mbucha says: May 1, 2012 9:48 AM

    Very good advice by Salaam, it’s too bad other ex-players like Salaam don’t swallow their pride like he did to give a career saving message.

  25. thepvyharvin says: May 1, 2012 9:48 AM

    Donovan McNabb should listen and learn from Rashaan,,getting fat and lazy cost him in his later years,always someone else to blame,,

  26. purplegreenandgold says: May 1, 2012 9:48 AM

    great to hear! that’s who RG should have speaking @ rookie symposium. sounds like he could have a budding career as a speaker. people have more credability when they can share life experiences.

  27. slingingsh1t says: May 1, 2012 9:50 AM

    Sounds like he has his head on straight. Should be required reading for all rookies. I wonder what he is doing now?

  28. nfl1818 says: May 1, 2012 9:51 AM

    belichick is printing these comments as we speak –

    hats off to the dude – sounds like a smart, forthright guy – maybe a coaching gig is in the works ?

    It does shed new light on all the analysis of picks and all the grades – it’s a huge transition to a level where 100 D1 college teams get narrowed to 32 pro teams

  29. edavidberg says: May 1, 2012 9:54 AM

    Rashaan only averaged 3.6 ypc his rookie year and he fumbled the ball 9 times. Defenders were not even trying to tackle him at the end of the year, they were trying to take the ball right out of his hands so they could return it for a touchdown. It was kind of embarrasing for him.

    The way the NFL has evolved players like Salaam are weeded out at a much higher rate. Some of them still slip through the cracks though … LenDale White comes to mind.

  30. thepvyharvin says: May 1, 2012 9:58 AM

    For anyone who is curious like I was,,, In yesterdays Chicago Tribune,,”These days, Salaam is back in San Diego, where he grew up, after spending time in Beijing, China, running a business that promotes mixed martial arts fights.

    “I sold my percentage of the business, so right now I’m just relaxing and looking for the next venture to get into,” he said. “I’m doing pretty good right now.”

  31. blackqbwhiterb says: May 1, 2012 10:00 AM

    Whatever he’s doing now for a living, I bet he’s successful at it. When you can see the problem, you can usually fix it…..

  32. ducksouped says: May 1, 2012 10:02 AM

    His name sounds like a fish

  33. godofwine330 says: May 1, 2012 10:08 AM

    Some good quotes from this could be taken (in case many of you have Colin Powell on the brain [I ain’t reading all that…])

    “The better I got, the lazier I got”

    “You have to change the way you live. You have to change who you hang out with. You have to totally get focused on your game. You have the athletic ability, but if you don’t put the work behind it, nothing will come from it.”

    “I had no discipline. I had all the talent in the world,”

    All good, valid points. Let’s hope some of the rookies heed his advice.

  34. sparty0n says: May 1, 2012 10:11 AM

    Do you ever wonder what kind of player a guy like JaMarcus Russell would have been if the salary slotting had been in place and he hadn’t gotten that big paycheck up front?

  35. silverhornet says: May 1, 2012 10:22 AM

    The bigger the boost…

  36. skolvikesskol says: May 1, 2012 10:29 AM

    We miss u rashan fumble-alam.


    Minnesota Vikings and every other nfc north defense

  37. comeonnowguys says: May 1, 2012 10:30 AM

    I still consider Cedric Benson a much bigger bust than Salaam, even though he (briefly) turned things around in Cincy.

  38. vahawker says: May 1, 2012 10:31 AM

    Do you ever wonder what kind of player a guy like JaMarcus Russell would have been if the salary slotting had been in place and he hadn’t gotten that big paycheck up front?
    He would have had to use the generic cough syrup instead of the name brand

  39. hailvictory10 says: May 1, 2012 10:45 AM

    The Eagles will probably sign him

  40. coseybedaman says: May 1, 2012 11:07 AM

    Sounds like a good, honest, classy guy. I hope we at least saved some of his money, and isnt dead broke. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders as an adult now.

  41. 3yardsndust says: May 1, 2012 11:09 AM

    Ah, Salaam…I like him.

  42. edsbay says: May 1, 2012 11:12 AM

    Have him speak at the Rookie Symposium….seems like alot of rookies could learn a lot from him.

  43. mrgroovesd says: May 1, 2012 11:21 AM

    Good for you Salaam for taking responsibility. He should be talking at the annual Rookie Synapse so the incoming rookies can see how you can go from Hero to Zero in a matter of seconds.

  44. bucforever says: May 1, 2012 11:27 AM

    Well said ! I am sure NFL teams have classes for rookies that cover most of what Salaam has said but from a different perspective. Maybe he should make a tell it like it is video and sell or give it to the NFL. Mostly it is about character and the dangers of too much money too soon.

  45. askbri says: May 1, 2012 11:47 AM

    Great advice, Rashaan…

    Oh, well, that’s done. Feels good – Now, let’s go back and smoke another j!

  46. jbcommonsense says: May 1, 2012 12:00 PM

    Teams should hire him to mentor their rookies/2nd year players.

  47. lionsplayoffs says: May 1, 2012 12:05 PM

    Whether he intended it or not, that’s a really nice compliment to the guys who’ve been able to play into their thirties in the NFL. Doesn’t happen by accident.

  48. metalhead65 says: May 1, 2012 12:12 PM

    I am sure all the money he made makes up for any regrets he might have. I always thought his name translated to he who must fumble since he usually did whenever he did make a play for the bears. one of the biggest busts ever!

  49. godofwine330 says: May 1, 2012 12:38 PM

    @lionsplayoffs says:
    May 1, 2012 12:05 PM
    Whether he intended it or not, that’s a really nice compliment to the guys who’ve been able to play into their thirties in the NFL. Doesn’t happen by accident.


    That isn’t always the answer, either. Look at T.O.. He has had a multitude of financial problems even playing into his mid 30’s. Some players/people either have the aptitude to learn the value of money – saving versus spending every cent, wrapping it up rather than have multiple kids by multiple mothers, some don’t. Some make mistakes early and later learn from them, others trip over the same rock that has been out in front of their houses for the last 20 years.

    Rashaan learned, and hopefully his example can save others from a peril of being a former NFL player with less in the bank than a McDonalds employee.

  50. bunjy96 says: May 1, 2012 12:49 PM

    From some of the published reports, the Bucs could have used him last year.

    Maybe even this year.

  51. sbowman1479 says: May 1, 2012 1:00 PM

    And next up to confess their faults: Tim Couch, Gerard Warren, Courtney Brown, Braylon Edwards, and Kellen Winslow Jr. ……… and all the front office bums from your Cleveland Browns….. I just hope we don’t at TR and BW to this list!!!

  52. zanderbough says: May 1, 2012 1:26 PM

    Grew up in Colorado and that guy was my hero when I was 8 years old. I just didn’t understand why he wasn’t a superstar in the NFL. No I do.

  53. dogluverssuck says: May 1, 2012 2:01 PM

    I met him in person in a San Diego dealership.

    He is a real down to Earth person. Very classy.

    If he is a bust, then what do you say about guys like Reggie Bush who took this long to get 1,000 in a season.

    Neither one is a bust.

  54. jimmylions says: May 1, 2012 2:37 PM

    Smart things to say if he wants a fresh start somewhere.

  55. dcbuff says: May 1, 2012 3:23 PM

    would of been nice to see him hit his potential. need more Buffs in this league

  56. drexelvol says: May 1, 2012 3:52 PM

    Listen up, RGIII.

  57. bears354 says: May 2, 2012 2:42 AM

    I still have my Salaam jersey I got as a gift his rookie year. I really thought he was going to be something great for my Bears. Glad to see he has taken full responsibility for not living up to his potential. Also glad to see he is doing well as a businessman and not struggling like you see from many other 1st round busts.

  58. rskills says: May 2, 2012 9:58 AM

    It’s funny to think back how people passionately debated who should win the Heisman, Salaam or Ki-Jana Carter. Also, who should be drafted who will be better. Figured one would’ve panned out.
    Does anyone remember when Rashaan ran circles and over everyone in the XFL. Thought for sure he’d make a decent comeback then. Oops!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!