Courtesy of Survivin America
They may have been the highly touted blue-chip recruits, the full ride All-American Heisman watch playmaker, the biggest and baddest at every level from Pop Warner up. But when they reach the National Football League, they are bottom of the barrel material until they prove otherwise.
Rookies find themselves in a new strata of competition. Their reputations are about as useful as yen at a 7-Eleven. They are just one of 1,696 players in a league that has 92 years of history. They'd better believe, they they are nobody until they become somebody.
Even the attention high profile draft picks like Luck and RG3 receive is just vaporous hype that will evaporate at the first hints of underachievement. Have you ever heard of Tom Cousineau or Aundray Bruce? Both were the first overall picks in the NFL Draft (1979 and 1988) and after more than disappointing careers, their names are about as revered as the boom operator in Titanic's movie credits.
Roger Goodell has made a point of emphasizing the amount of tradition and honor that accompanies playing in the NFL. He has made rookie visits to the Hall of Fame a mandatory element of their initiation. As they wander through the halls of greatness and admire the placards of men whose legacies span generations, it gradually sinks in that as a rookie, they are a minutia of what is the NFL.
Lesson 1: "The game is bigger than any one individual—including each one of them."
NFL's executive vice president Ray Anderson puts it bluntly, "Many of these players do not realize the depth and breadth of our history and what has been established...And the ones that do not get it will find there is no place for them. We know that there are those that will not elevate."
In order to elevate, there is a long and arduous journey. Rookies must pay their dues, from veteran hazing, to long hours in the film room. There is no such thing as an instant star. Careers don't grow like Chia pets; they are earned through the sweat and pain of dedication. Just because they've made it to the NFL, it doesn't mean they've made it.