NFL players probably shouldn’t try to do April Fool’s Day gags. They still do, and they surely still will.
Tom Brady tried to make people think the Montreal Expos (a team that once drafted him) were returning in 2022, with Brady as the “first player/coach/owner in MLB history.” Brady proved that comedy is indeed hard.
Free-agent running back Todd Gurley had an April Fool’s Day joke with a strategic objective. Said Gurley on Twitter: “Long Couple Of Weeks But Finally About To Sign To A Team.” Less than an hour later, he admitted that he’s “fooling around,” adding that he’s “staying ready and working hard.”
Though I won’t fault Gurley for it, it’s obvious he was using April Fool’s Day as a vehicle for reminding teams and media and fans that he’s available. For a guy who just four years ago was the NFL’s offensive player of the year and three years ago received a massive contract from the Rams, it can’t be easy to become an afterthought.
Throw in the fact that the position he plays doesn’t pay veterans very well (because there are always young, cheap rookies who can run the ball), and Gurley may be waiting for a while. Ultimately, he may have to decide whether he’s willing to play for the minimum or not play at all — if he even gets an offer to do that.
The lesson (in addition to “pick a position other than running back”) is this: Get paid what you can while you can, because your marketability can disappear quickly. Fortunately for Gurley, he maximized his compensation with the Rams before his career brought him to a point where the zero-sum game of 53 regular-season roster spots and far more than 32 times 53 guys trying to claim them pushes a guy out of football long before he’s ready to leave.