Last August I wrote an article on Bleacher Report questioning Raiders' running back Darren McFadden's commitment to being a successful professional football player (read that story here).
In that article I pointed out that many people were beginning to think that maybe it was time to put the 'bust' label on McFadden—due to his lack of production since coming to the Raiders after the 2008 NFL draft.
I also mentioned how I follow several NFL players on Twitter and that McFadden was one of them.
I said I thought what players say on Twitter was a very useful insight into the mindset of a professional athlete.
How do they feel about the last game? What do they do in their down time? Do they take being a professional athlete seriously?
From what I was seeing at the time on Twitter from McFadden I said the following:
"I get the feeling he enjoys the money and fame being an NFL player has gotten him, but I’m just not so sure he is willing to work hard to become the player most think he could be."
During his rookie year McFadden played infrequently and only had 113 carries, in part due to an injury to his big toe suffered in his second game against Kansas City. McFadden ended his rookie season with 499 yards on 113 attempts, with four touchdowns. He also made 29 receptions for 285 yards.
In his second season, McFadden was once again plagued by the injury bug. He suffered a knee injury in the first month of the season, and never showed the breakaway speed that he was noted for at Arkansas. He was an effective pass catcher, but he only averaged 3.9 yards per carry—and had gotten the reputation for going down easily after the first hit.
Well as we all know last season McFadden finally had the kind of season that Raiders fans and football fans in general were expecting from him.
In 2010 McFadden ran for 1,157 yards in 223 attempts and had seven rushing touchdowns. He also had 47 receptions for 507 yards and three touchdowns. His total numbers were 1,664 total yards and 10 touchdowns for the season.
McFadden also didn't seem to fall down every time he was touched like he had in the past. In fact on several runs last season McFadden mowed down opposing players and punished them for trying to tackle him.
After the 2010 season began and McFadden was starting to put up good numbers, I heard several television announcers say that McFadden had been very committed during the offseason and had improved his workout routine, and his eating habits (lean meats, lots of vegetables and that kind of thing).
Of course when I wrote my article none of that had come out yet, and from what I had seen from McFadden on Twitter it seemed like fast food was a big part of his diet, and having fun was more important to football.
After McFadden's 2010 season I think we can all put the draft bust label away for good.
I also think I can probably stop questioning McFadden's commitment to being a successful NFL Player.
You might ask, how after the season McFadden had last year I could only say 'probably' stop questioning McFadden's commitment?
Well one good season does not prove to me that he is ready to do what a player has to do to have a good career.
Yes after what I read about his commitment during the previous offseason it shows he worked hard before the 2010 season, and that is most likely why he had better results. Of course some of the credit for McFadden's better numbers last season has to go to better coaching—and not having JaMarcus Russell as the Raider quarterback.
Please don't get me wrong here—I am not questioning McFadden's work ethic again. But he still has to prove to me by having two good seasons in a row that he has what it takes.
Of course some kind of freak injury might limit his playing time in 2011, and that wouldn't be his fault, so I would not question his commitment to football if that happens.
I am also worried that the current labor problems between the NFL and the players might affect how players perform on the field in 2011.
Will the lack of mini-camps and other structured team workouts mean players will not be in as good of shape? Will we see more injuries for that reason? I hope not, but time will tell.
What would make me question McFadden's commitment is if he isn't injured and still can't produce on the field.
One thing I can't do is base anything on what McFadden is saying on Twitter.
From looking at his Twitter timeline I can see he hasn't sent out a tweet since last November.
Well, that and the fact McFadden blocked me on Twitter after I wrote that article last August.
But from what I've read about McFadden since I wrote that first article, and from what I saw on the field last season I don't think that will happen.
I think McFadden will have a good 2011 season, in great part to his hard work during the offseason.
Oh, and Mr. McFadden sir, if you are still on Twitter can you unblock me now?
I am @ohbjuan.
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