The route to the NFL is not for the faint hearted. The likeliness of getting drafted to the league is less than a tenth of a percent. With the average pro career amounting to a little more than three years, the odds of even playing for a professional organization are even less. But this is not a focus on the odds of playing in the league. That’s a different topic suited for a different discussion.
This year, on April 26, three thousand players will patiently wait for their names to be called to join the illustrious league of the NFL. After years of playing the game that they love and years of training and displaying their talents, they all have a chance to join one of the 32 prominent NFL franchises. Unfortunately, in the seven rounds, the NFL Draft will only produce two hundred fifty-six prospective stars.
A few might be able to rise through the ranks despite not being selected, but most will never be able to call themselves an NFL player. With that being said, the draft has been coveted as the pathway to join the committee of world class athletes. As amazing as the history could tell, the draft has been seen as a bit disparaging.
While multi million dollar franchises essentially scour the nation’s top prospects like livestock to be prodded and displayed upon a global audiences to promote sponsors that in return, turn the NFL into a billion enterprise. This criticism of the draft doesn’t not come unchallenged. Some see it as a gateway to a career for some of the most championed athletes while others condemn the elitist culture of many sport teams.
What’s wrong with the draft?
Baseball might be America’s pastime, but Football is in every heart of each and every American. Nothing spews America like sitting back on a hot Sunday afternoon with a cold frosty mug and football on the tube. However, the moral and legal guidelines that help form our society tell a different tale. The monopolistic stature of the NFL has been a dark spot in our free market.
The NFL has already applied sanctions and requirements just to join that have shifted and shaped the amateur platform. The college system, which in recently and historically has raised questions of it’s legitimacy, might need to shake up it’s foundation. But than again, that is a different topic for one of our other HausMates. Our focus is how the NFL Draft and it basically violates the very essence of our free market.
Saquon Barkley, one of the most heralded prospects in this upcoming draft, recently put up the most impressive numbers at the NFL Combine. With a resume that included an All-American season in 2017 during his last year at Penn State, Barkley is looked to be the first player to be picked in the draft. Unfortunately, that draft pick resides in Cleveland, a franchise that has underachieved for more than a decade. The Browns, who have not competed for a title in this century, for the second consecutive time will have the chance to pick first in he Draft.
Losers Win Too
How can a team, who’s achievements have led to a parade for a winless season, be able to get one of, if not, the best player in the draft? Other than winning a championship, what gives teams an incentive to achieve? Before, the draft system was appointed to achieve a competitive balance within the league. However, if a team does not have the incentive to win a championship, there is no incentive to even compete. This has been an accusation of franchises in the NBA.
The term “tanking” is when a team does not compete during the season in exchange to receive a high draft pick. This has been debated since the NBA has a lottery system, but losing does increase their chances at a higher pick. No teams in the NFL have been accused of this, but the idea of Cleveland having two first picks in a row and more than likely having the chance to have it again this year is down right shameful. The fact that the nation’s top prospects have to be subjected to a franchise that does not show the same level of determination and motivation is down right deplorable. And now these young men are left with the task of uprooting an unworthy franchise to a path of success in down right contemptible.
Amateurs Pay Too
We can understand that abolishing the NFL Draft is not in the vision of most sport viewers but it could fix some problems for lower level athletes. Now, collegiate athlete are not represented in the best light as they attend major college programs.
The NCAA makes millions of dollars that don’t trickle down to the college athlete. In 2014, it was reported that only twenty four collegiate athletic programs actually make more money than they spend. With that being said, there isn’t a lot of money to be spent on athletes who put in the hard work at the prominent programs. Most athletes treat their participation as student athletes a profession.
The time dedicated in their participation does not amount to the reward in exchange. The idea of an education is not enough. With players now being able to succeed on the field and in the classroom, the myth of the “dumb jock” has been put to rest. And in return, these programs get more money out of athletes rather than vice versa. When these prospective players are eligible to go pro, they are at the mercy of 256 spots rather than choosing where they would want to play. Which in all result in putting an exceptional amount of work for little to no reward.
A Change For the Good?
The spectacle of the NFL Draft will never go away as viewers marvel at boys who start their pathway to become men. The idea of sports being involved only makes it better. However, things might change soon since the student athlete is evolving. Athletes may not be at the mercy of NFL franchises for too long. The odds of playing in the NFL are too unlikely than favorable and the NFL Draft diminishes those odds even more. There are alternatives to the current situation.
In 2004, Eli Manning refused to play for the Chargers if they were to pick him in the draft. Eli Manning was trying to go the route of not playing his rookie season. With that, Eli would have been eligible for free agency after a year if he did not sign which would’ve led him to go to a team of his choice. Because this, the Chargers’ hands were tied and they were forced to eventually trade him. This may not work for Mr.Irrelevant but it could be a trailblazing pathway for new players.
Player representation in the amateur setting, alternative routes to the NFL, or even alternative leagues might be in the future not too far away from now. Though, if the amount of money continues to flow in the current direction, the prospective stipulations are more than unlikely. For now, we are going to have to settle for the NFL Draft. However, we have entered an enlightened age, a renaissance in some way for the underrepresented and unheard to have a voice.
The NFL right now subtly controls all factors of football and player development. This form of power has crippled individuals for many years. But there is room for a change. Like the music industry where artist can now build a brand without being a slave to corporate heads. Or an independent filmmaker can win an Oscar despite not having the financial and prominent backing of a studio. In the league of sports, this can be a wave. Maybe in the future, athletes won’t have to be forced to dream of being in the NFL but rather just to play football at the highest professional level.