Somewhere he waits. As names drop from the board and the phone remains silent, a delicate dance of dismay and motivation ensue. We become blinded by the household names and big time programs we see during the NFL Draft. It’s easy to get lost in the raw emotions of players whose dreams have finally come true. However, as we’ve seen in the past, some players aren’t so lucky. Their phone does eventually ring but not until after the NFL Draft has concluded. These are the fringe guys, the long shots. We’ve trained and coached a fair share of players who fall in this category. Their stories are all different, some go on to have careers in the NFL, CFL, AFL and previously the AAF. However different, the common story you see unfold is a resilient pursuit of their dream in the face of inevitable obstacles/circumstances.
So and So got signed by the [enter NFL team name here] –
Even though a player is signed to a team, that doesn’t mean they’ve made it. After the NFL Draft, the road to making the 53 man roster means they’ll have to survive the 47 cuts that are made before the start of the regular season. 100 guys camp for all 32 teams. Each team cuts 47 players. Which means 1,504 players are out of work when the final cuts are made. We hear it all the time, clients and families oohing and ahhing about players signing with the Titans, Redskins, Packers you name it. The intent is not to discredit the players or undermind their admirers it’s to shed light on their journey and the harsh reality of a world rarely discussed. For the players that have started their journey of 1,000 steps and signing is only step one.
Prepping for what’s to come –
They’re weeks away from rookie camp, OTA’s, mini camp. Nerves have settled down and reality has set in. Their chance to make their dream come to fruition is close. Obstacles during this time are few and far between. Continuing training is vital. This is not the time to throttle down. For our players, the focus of their program shifts from speed and power to maintenance, strength and recovery. Our main goal is to keep the athletes healthy and confident both physically and mentally. Focus, for the athletes, is key. Anyone and everyone wants to congratulate and say how proud they are. But in the back of each player’s mind, they know nothing’s set in stone…yet. Maintaining a focus and hunger is easier said than done. One tip we like to use to help maintain focus is mediation. It’s hard to argue with the results. Check out this article posted by Huffpost.
Camp begins –
It’s here. Time to strap on the pads and do what you came here to do. The obstacles are now very real, injuries, dehydration, exhaustion (physical & mental), homesick. The list could go on and on. What players must constantly remind themselves is the fact that they’ve done everything in their power to perform at their peak. Yes, they could and can happen but resiliency and fortitude got them this far and they’ll have to rely on that to carry them through the process. The inability to deal with circumstances and obstacles such as the ones mentioned could result in being one of the 47 guys who doesn’t receive a contract.
Judgement Day –
It’s either a yes or no type scenario. For most its a no and small few, yes. We hear more about the yes’ than no’s. Take a look at this clip from Hardknocks to see an inside look into what a “no” feels like. It hurts, no matter how you cut it, it just hurts. Judgement Day tests these players. What’s next? Do they hang it up, call it quits or keep fighting. We’ve had the pleasure of coach athletes, such as Erik Pinkins, who refuse to quit.
Why they do it –
Reasons vary and opportunities pass like ships in the night. But at the core of each player is a desire to make it. When you see the fire in their eyes during training sessions it makes sense. In the face of obstacles, you see unwavering confidence that brighter days are ahead. Glimpses of resilience are rarely caught on camera yet prevalent every offseason here at Activ8. They’re battle tested and put through the ringer, but when the dust settles it’s tough to not recognize that these are some of the most resilient people you’ll ever meet.
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