The 2017 NFL Draft is here and while I’ll be paying attention to what player ends up where, I will not be watching the three-day televised event.
Over the years, I have found myself less and less interested in professional football. The nation’s best football is played on Fridays and Saturdays across the nation and the worst on Sundays in billion-dollar stadiums.
The draft is an example of why I am less interested in the NFL. The first round of the draft will make 32 young men instant millionaires and devote five hours of screen time to the process.
I have no issue with the money involved, my issue is with the theatrics. The fancy set, the video packages, the expensive suits and the dozens and dozens of experts who discuss the soon to be drafted players skill sets, maturity levels and backgrounds.
The NFL obviously knows what it’s doing. Even in a controversial down year, that featured multiple athletes kneeling during the National Anthem, the NFL still made more money than we can count.
Maybe my biggest issue with the draft is it is too positive. Every player drafted is called the next big thing when in reality, he isn’t. For every Tom Brady there are 20 to 30 to 40 players who won’t last the duration of their first contract.
According to ESPN, the average NFL career is 3.3 years not the 10 to 15 that is projected by those so-called experts.
The NFL recommends its players enter an MBA program to plan for life after football and some do so but others do not.
These new millionaires believe themselves to indeed be the next big thing so they don’t need to worry about a back-up plan.
However, the NFL does have some success stories. Look at Payton Manning. He is a Superbowl winner, an MVP, a franchise quarterback and a businessman.
In 2012, Manning bought 21 Papa Johns Franchises in the Denver area and as the face of the franchise he will be doing fine for a long time to come.
How about a lesser known pro. Ricky Jean Francois is the owner of 25 Dunkin’ Donuts franchises.
“When the big money came in,” Jean Francois said, via Fox Sports Radio, “I was like, ‘I need a retirement plan right now. I need a retirement plan that can grow right now, so at the time when I actually walk out of the NFL, I don’t have to let the NFL be my identity. Teams can look at me like, ‘OK, he’s a business man. He’s a smart guy. He knows what he’s doing with his money.”
That’s what, in my opinion, the NFL should be showcasing. Not the three-day draft, but rather the real facts.
Football is America’s game and America needs athletes that we can look up to and say, “He’s a smart guy. He manages his money, he owns a business, he’s more than just a football player.”
You and me, we’ll probably never sign a million-dollar contract, but if Manning and Jean Francois can make smart financial decisions, so can we.
Enjoy the draft football fans. I hope your teams nab the next big thing.
The first round of the draft will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, with the second and third rounds on Friday night. The final four rounds will be on Saturday. ESPN and NFL Network will have complete coverage of the draft.