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How hard is it to have a successful NFL career?

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The United States is the largest country for professional sports; overall, most professional teams are from the country. Not only the USA also has the most extensive program for college athletes, so it’s only natural that a lot of people want to become pro athletes and make their marks. However, the odds of going pro are considered the same as getting hit by lightning. Only the top 1% of the 1% actually make a career as a pro athlete, and even though the NFL is known to have teams with larger rosters, the odds are very slim, considering the number of prospects.

Here is the breakdown of the football players going pro in the NFL. There are currently around 1.2 million high school football players. Of those, only 6.1% will be able to play college football. After all, is said and done, only 254 players officially get drafted into the NFL, and then, depending on the roster size, another 500 players get signed as free agents to the team or the practice squad. Still, after getting drafted into the NFL, around 20% of the players are considered average athletes. The remaining 80% are either out of the NFL in a few years or play football for minor leagues or leagues in another country.

“Odds of being drafted in NFL are slim, but always be positive.”

So, that’s the first thing an NFL prospect must have in mind despite all the hard work, and after getting drafted in the NFL, there is an 80% chance that he can be off the team even before his rookie contract expires. Moreover, the competition will always be there, and with the number of prospects coming in every year, the ferocity of taking the next in line will keep growing. Therefore, the NFL prospects must start afresh right from the time they decide to declare for the NFL draft, and regardless of the outcome of the draft, they should be willing to give everything they have if they want to be in the NFL for the next decade and a half.

“Getting drafted is not the conclusion; it is just the beginning.”

“Always be prepared to outwork your competitor.”

The first thing a prospect must be doing is managing their time well. They must join all the training routines for the combine or the trials. They should primarily focus on their conversation skills as well. They should focus on spending their free time in the gym doing strengthening and conditioning rather than partying or hanging out. The same goes for the prospects who get drafted. The work isn’t done; it has just begun. All draftees should focus on learning the new playbook and join each team meeting regardless of how one feels or how useless that team meeting sounds. They must always arrive on time. Jerry Rice used to be the first person on the team to arrive at the stadium and the last one to leave.

“Always be the one first on time.”

“Make sure to attend all team meetings.”

“Be an active participant in team building conversations.”

Strength and conditioning can help a prospect stay in shape and avoid unnecessary injuries. Staying away from drugs and trouble is also one of the top priorities. Many athletes have ruined their wonderful careers due to being reckless. Ray Rice was gone immediately after video of domestic issues surfaced online. Josh Gordon, who was being called generational talent and was compared with Calvin Johnson and Julio Jones in terms of explosiveness, has ended his career due to NFL substance abuse policy.

The latest example can be seen in the shape of Henry Ruggs III. Imagine being the first-round draft pick, signing a rookie contract of over $16 million, and ending everything due to an unintentional mistake. There are multiple examples like Not everyone can get a second chance. Michael Vick was a rare example of having a fantastic career, but he was also a generational talent, and those are very rare.

“Avoid trouble, drugs, and recklessness.”

If you listen to the interviews of the top NFL draft picks, you will notice regardless of their educational background. What they had studied, all of them were very good at speaking with confidence, and that’s because of the sheer faith they had in themselves. This also trains the players to calm their nerves when being criticized on social media, in an interview, or by a coach.

“Always be confident.”

Lastly, fear is a part of our everyday life regardless if one is an NFL player or anyone else; however, it is the battling that fear that counts most. It is very easy to let oneself down, and fear creeps into the mind. This is not good for anyone, but for an NFL player, it can eat one away from the inside out. Regardless of the outcome of the game, a play, or any offside incident, the players should focus on their everyday routine and make sure not to be afraid. Remember, if a player has gotten from a high school team to an NFL team, he is already better than 99% of the players. Therefore, keeping composure and keeping one’s nerves calm will be beneficial in the long run as an NFL athlete.

“Do not be afraid of any situation.”


Meet Derrick Branch, the founder and chief wordsmith at Strike 7 Sports. With a sharp focus on the NFL and the NBA, Derrick's expertise in sports is matched only by his passion for sharing it with others. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from the prestigious University of Arizona Global. Let his insightful and engaging writing take you to the heart of the action.

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