To all of this year’s draftees, playing the NFL is a job, not a hobby. Just like any other job you have to show up for work every day and give 100%.
It is easy to get distracted. The the money, fame, and admiration by the fans and loved ones. It can become amusing, if not overwhelming at times. Trust me, I know first hand. I was the 3rd overall pick in 1989.
You make a lot of money overnight, you get a lot of attention, but you have to keep doing the things that got you drafted in the first place–the fundamentals. And whatever else you want to do in addition to that, I think that’s fine within reason. But it can’t be all about the off the field stuff that comes along. It has to be about the game, your performance, and just being a great teammate, a great NFL player.
When I look at the best running back in the league right now, Le’Veon Bell, I see the determination of a guy putting in the work consistently and preparing like a champion. He’s not out partying the night before he has a practice or workout. Same thing for a guy like LeSean McCoy, who has a similar slippery, quick, and contact-avoiding running style to me. These guys are showing up every day to improve themselves and they’re too smart to get lost in the world of distractions.
The Lions’ second round pick this year, running back Kerryon Johnson, I believe will follow this same path to success. He was the offensive player of the year in the SEC. They have a great coach and program down there at Auburn, those kids come out with discipline that usually translates to success in the NFL.
I want all of these rookies to remember how quickly an NFL career can fly by. Even if you have a long career, it goes fast – in the blink of an eye. And for most of us, we know that we’re one play away from it being all over. It’s a tough sport.
You have to get it while you’re here. You have to make the most out of this small window of time in your life to succeed after you move on from football. Now is the time to set yourself and your family up for success. Now is the time to be a professional football player.