If you’re a mom, you’re probably going to relate to what I have to say. And if you don’t have children, stick around because I’m going to bring you into the fold in a minute…
As the Conover household's Director of Operations, I love my job but wholeheartedly admit to bitching and moaning about the incessant demands:
I'm the last one in bed at night, yet the first one up in the morning; I don't get sick days; and you already know my strong disdain for laundry
. And don’t even get me started about the fact that if I even so much as attempt
to write a blog post in the presence of both children, my son commences to climbing on me like a human jungle gym, and my daughter suddenly needs to be nursed.
But guess what? For all of my bellyaching and bemoaning, I know I’ve got staying power. My children are not going to wake up one morning and say, “You know what? Your services are no longer needed here, mom. So, thanks, but, you’ve just been released.”
Nope. Like me or not – and I’d like to believe that, for the most part, they like me – mama isn’t going anywhere.
But the same can’t be said for an NFL football player.
Like any position in the private sector, job security it shaky, at best, and playing professional football is no different. But I think people would be surprised to know the alarming rate at which NFL players have to look over their shoulders – and on a daily basis, no less – because threats abound.
A few weeks ago, the NFL hosted its annual draft. There were cheers, and hugs, and high-fives all around by the draftees and their families, because it was assumed that after said player had jumped the tremendous hurdle of getting drafted, it will all be smooth sailing from there. The player had managed to beat tremendous odds, after all: While there are hundreds of college football teams, there are only 32 NFL teams; and while a college team is comprised of 85 scholarship players and an unlimited number of walk-ons, the absolute total number of players on an NFL team is only 53.
But at the end of the draft, the average NFL team has about 85 players on its roster.
You do the math: Players will be cut at training camp – before the season even begins.
And even if a player manages to make it through camp, the aforementioned threats are large, looming, and, frankly, never-ending. Let’s pretend for a moment you are an NFL player. Let me break down why you should be afraid. Very afraid:
The Work-out Threat: A draft is the most popular means an NFL team obtains players, but it is far from the only means. Team personnel “work-out” (read: audition) players all year round for the purpose of having another player on speed-dial in case you become injured.
The Free Agent Threat: Let’s say a player comes to the end of his contract, yet is still able-bodied and ready to play. He now becomes a free agent, which means he is free to become signed by any team, at any time. And he could be coming to your team to take your spot.
The New Coach Threat: What if a team gets a new head coach? He is likely to bring with him new ideas, new philosophies, and, sometimes, the recommendation that the team sign players from his previous team.
The Injury Threat: This scenario is sure to make your head spin: An NFL team typically employs six wide receivers. Let’s say one gets hurt, and the remaining five are not 100%. So that means it is imperative that your team replace the one that is injured. But your team is still employing the injured guy – even though he isn’t playing at the moment, and if your team obtains his replacement, then the team be at 54 players when they can only have 53 on the roster. What happens now? Team personnel start sniffing around in other areas of your team, and they find that they are heavy in the offensive lineman department – the position you play: the team only needs eight linemen, but they currently have nine. So they hand you your walking papers. This game of musical chairs happens. All. The. Time.
The Upgrade Threat: Let’s say you drive a 2010 BMW. It runs fine, you still love it, and you are happy with it…but you are presented with the opportunity to buy a 2014 BMW – for less. Why wouldn’t you want a younger, shinier version of the car you’ve already got? NFL scouts are no different.
The bottom line is this: While this is the day-to-day reality of playing in the NFL, these are factors that, thankfully, I needn’t worry about. I’ve got my position as Mama on lock. And even if you’re not a mother, you may enjoy the same security – perhaps you just haven’t looked at your situation from the proper perspective. Whether you are a daughter, sister, caregiver, or the truest friend someone may have, there is a certain comfort in knowing that you are needed, that you are wanted, that things will fall apart without you, and, ultimately, that you make all the difference.
There is no feeling in the world akin to the validation that you are not only a first-round draft choice, you are the only draft choice.
I will remind myself of this, of course, at 3:18 a.m. when my daughter gets up for her first of three middle-of-the-night feedings, or when my son crashes my already too-short shower by abruptly pelting me with his Little People while proclaiming that it is “bathy time” for them, too.
Courtney Conover, The Brown Girl with Long Hair, is a mom of two and wife of an ex-NFL player. She has more Legos and NFL memorabilia than she knows what to do with. She blogs at The Brown Girl with Long Hair.