It takes just one hit.
The difference between enshrinement in Canton and a new career outside of football can come down to one collision, one fall, one bad twist, turn or cut.
According to a recent NFL Management Council study, the average length of an NFL career is just over six years. For some players, it takes that much time to be recognized as an elite NFL player.
Pittsburgh's James Harrison went undrafted in 2002, spent multiple years on the Steelers’ practice squad and was released on three occasions. Harrison is now regarded as one of the best linebackers in the NFL, having been selected to the Pro Bowl each of the last five seasons.
There are many young, supremely talented players in the league with obvious, undeniable potential—the potential to be the best of the best in the NFL. Not in four or five years. Some of these guys are already part of the discussion.
If you don’t know them now, don’t worry. You will.