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Column:Don’t drop out to join the NFL

To Leave or Not To Leave

Published: Thursday, January 23, 2014

Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014 13:01

JERRY REESE

JERRY REESE

The Florida State Seminoles ended the Southeastern Conference streak of seven straight Bowl Championship Series wins with a 34-31 victory in the Vizio BCS National Championship Game earlier in January.

With the culmination of the 2013 season, many highly touted college football players like South Carolina’s defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, and Clemson’s wide receiver Sammy Watkins have declared their early exit from school and plan to enter the 2014 NFL Draft.

These players will all endure multiple workouts, appointments with doctors and nutritionists, and public speaking classes before being moved to their new city in April by their new team.

They also have another commonality: Clowney, Manziel, and Watkins are projected to be top ten draft picks by ESPN’s Todd McShay. First round picks are assured four-year contracts when selected, and the last player selected in that round is slotted to make almost $6.8 million over the course of that contract, with the previous 31 selected making incrementally more.

For those players, making the move to the NFL can result in more rewards than losses, so leaving school early isn’t seen as a negative.

College is the place to assure the ability to do three things: find something you love, master it, and use those tools to secure the rest of your life. These men are most likely making a decision that will accomplish all three.

The average NFL career is 3.2 years according to DeMaurice Smith, the president of the NFL Players Association. Players are regularly pushed out of the league due to lack of talent and new draft picks, or even worse, a catastrophic injury.

My father, Jerry Reese, was knocked out of the NFL after tearing his ACL in the 1980s. Luckily, he planned, knowing that playing professional football for an extended period of time could be unrealistic. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1977, with a bachelor’s in science education.

It pains me to see so many intellectual athletes choosing to go out on a limb for football and not finish college.

Playing the childhood game you love as a career is a dream, almost too good to be true.

Out of the hundreds of thousands of players who have ever buckled a chinstrap, only a mere 280 of them have enjoyed Hall of Fame success.

I understand the want for high draft picks to ensure a guaranteed seven figure contract. But as both an avid football watcher and college student, these athletes need to have some foresight. The NFL and the draft picks will be there the following year. And their education should be a priority.

Jerry Reese can be contacted at jlreese@loyno.edu 

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