2014 will be the starting point for some great NFL players. It will also be the launching pad for a dismal career filled with unrealized potential. It is sad but true that there will be many rookies that just don’t pan out. A few of those rookies will be high profile players. A new Dish advertisement pokes fun at a few of these former NFL busts. It is a pretty great commercial that features some recognizable guys.
Matt Lienart is in the ad shown grilling and staring off into space when someone mentions college. That was indeed his heyday. The former USC star was a legend at the collegiate level but a complete flop as a pro. JaMarcus Russell is in the ad as well. He was a major mistake for the Raiders who took him at the overall #1 spot in 2007. He had no success in the NFL, and really should not have been so highly drafted in the first place. The Raiders are known to do inexplicable things though. Brian Bosworth and Heath Shuler round out the cast for the Dish ad. Both players were highly touted but ended up big disappointments.
I’m glad these former players are able to take a little ribbing. I am sure that has not always been the case. It is not easy to go from a prideful pro athlete to being dumped by your profession. Today’s NFLers can take some substance from the commercial though. NFL careers are not guaranteed and neither are the contracts. A player can be cut at any moment. Contracts only have significant guaranteed money for the elite players. It matters not what a player did in college. Those stats and accomplishments won’t carry over to the pro league. Leinart had an amazing career in college, as did Bosworth. Once they made it to the big boy league they were exposed as also rans.
I don’t know what makes some players flop and others into ten year NFL vets. It has to be a combination of issues. Certainly hard work, dedication to the craft, and avoiding injuries is a big part of the equation. But there are other hidden factors like timing, teammates, and just weird circumstances that can affect a rookie’s future in the NFL. I have witnessed guys that I thought had no chance of making any significant impact in the NFL go on to be Pro Bowlers. I have also seen can’t miss prospects fold up like a paper airplane once the real action started.
We won’t know which rookies will end up as flops or superstars just yet. It will take a few years to truly see the results. Kids like Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, and Jake Matthews have the chance to make or break their own careers. They can’t control everything, but they are in charge of themselves. There is no shame in not making it as an NFL player longterm. Most players never make it to this level clearly. The shame comes when a player does not put in the work, discipline, and dedication needed to be a pro football player.
Players that were drafted high like the guys in the Dish ad will have every chance to succeed. Big money is paid for high draftees so teams must give them playing time to justify their own draft decisions. In a couple more weeks we will start to see what some of these rookies will do with the opportunities before them. Hopefully none of these current rookies will end up on a Dish ad that clowns NFL busts. The reality is that many rookies won’t even reach that level of notoriety. They will simply disappear if they don’t perform.