The 254 players selected in this year’s NFL draft will gather for the rookie symposium next week, and one message should resonate: There’s a good chance your NFL career will last less than three years.
NFL V.P. Troy Vincent told the Associated Press that an important message of the rookie symposium is that NFL careers don’t last long, and players need to prepare for post-NFL life.
“We are not here to be dream killers,” Vincent said. “We have to be realistic, though, and you are now on the clock. So, of the drafted rookies, less than half will still be around three years from now. That doesn’t mean life stops; it better not. While we are introducing them to the NFL, we’re also talking about life after football. And there will be nothing these young men who come from all different walks of life have been through that one of us has not been through. There are life lessons that need to be learned right from the beginning.”
It’s a tough thing for a young player to hear, but NFL careers can disappear quickly. At the rookie symposium three years ago, Raiders first-round pick Rolando McClain probably didn’t think a series of legal issues would have derailed his career by 2013. Lions first-round pick Jahvid Best probably didn’t think a series of concussions would have derailed his career by 2013. Broncos first-round pick Tim Tebow probably didn’t think two teams would have sent him packing and he’d just be trying to earn a roster spot on a third by 2013. But that’s how quickly things can go wrong for NFL players.
And those three examples are first-round picks. Late-round picks are even less likely to last in the NFL.
So it’s good for rookies to hear that many of them won’t last in the NFL. Even if every single one of those 254 rookies probably thinks he’ll never be one of those guys who washes out in three years.