Calling All Rookies

Jarrod CooperCorrespondent ISeptember 13, 2010

SAN DIEGO, CA -  DECEMBER 4: Kris Dielman #68 of the San Diego Chargers is confronted by Jarrod Cooper #40 of the Oakland Raiders on December 4, 2005 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

With all rookies officially completing their first NFL training camp, the 2010 NFL draft class can take a little sigh of relief, at least the rookies that made it through. Contrary to belief not every player selected in the NFL draft will make it on a NFL team, some rookies have had a rude awaking, and their NFL dream is over. But the good news for the rookies that have made it through camp, camp is over and all the fun begins. A lot of people are under the impression that a NFL season is the hard part, but with all my experience in the NFL, I am here to tell you it is not. All the intense physical practices are over for the most part, now its time to kick back and do what you love the most, play football.

     During training camp rookies quickly get over whelmed with the amount of information thrown at them. Usually teams will put their entire play book in during training camp, teams do this to test their new young players to see what they are made of mentally and physically. Rookies have to adapt to an all new way of life. You eat different, you sleep different, and you’re surrounded by grown men that are fighting to take your roster spot everyday. One of the biggest skill sets rookies have to learn is time management. Time management is 50% of being in the NFL, failure to learn how to mange your time correctly will buy you a one way ticket back home. Half of all rookies will learn the hard way what the fine is for being late to a team meeting, $5,000! And you don’t get to write a check, the fine is taken straight out of you pay check before you get it, don’t get me started on taxes. I wish everyone could see the dumb look on rookies faces after they get their first pay check, and meet the famous Uncle Sam. Calling all rookies, the highest tax bracket is part of your life now.

    Even with the crazy taxes that players pay, rookies soon learn the number one change in their life is money. Every rookie is about to make more money in one week then they have made in their entire life, that is, unless you went to school with Reggie Bush at USC.

     Juggling life off the field and now working on the field, life can get very distracting. There are a number of rookies every year that fall off the map do to such distractions, normally associated with to much parting and drinking. When you’re a rookie coming into the NFL the last thing you want to be associated with is a team distraction, any kind of unwanted attention do to a off field incidents. If you get labeled to be THAT GUY it will haunt you your entire career and can cost you money and playing time in the long run. I found this out the hard way my rookie year, not balancing my life correctly, with too much parting and too much drinking equals DUI. (Ouch)

      Most if not all rookies have been knocked off their high horse and now realize that every player out on that field is top dog and you are just another player having to fight everyday to keep the dream alive. Rookies have seen players that they idolized getting released from teams like it was nothing, and others placed on IR with season ending injuries. They have learned how fragile a NFL career can be. The NFL provides life skill classes that all rookies must attend. These classes are designed to warn players of the obstacles that lay in front of them. Rookies have to learn that they are not just a regular person walking down the street any more, even if you want to be your not. You are now a part of the NFL, and that makes you a target. People will single you out, and that is one of the fun parts of being a NFL player but not everyone has good intentions.

    A 17 week football season is almost twice the amount of games played that any rookie has experienced. Rookies have just come off of the craziest year of their life, with the NFL draft, NFL combine, NFL off season, NFL training camp, senior games, and getting a football agent to negotiate your NFL contract. With so many life changes rookies have gained a reputation for running out of gas half way through the year. The official term for this is “Rookie Wall”. Once a rookie has hit that rookie wall the true man comes out, this is also a time when rookies gain veteran experience in the eyes of his teammates. Rookies will either push through to the next level of man hood or fall to the way side, their reputation is on the line and what ever happens will follow them through out their career.

     This is a lot to take in all at once for a rookie, but every man in the NFL had to go through the same life changes, how you handle these changes in your life will determine how long your NFL career will be. Veteran players have been guiding the rookies through training camp but now life begins for the rookies on their own, welcome to the NFL.

Jarrod Cooper

8 year Veteran

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