Last night I watched the first round of the NFL’s draft. Don’t ask me why, because I’m not sure myself. Suzy was at book club, and I kidded myself that I needed to watch because of my upcoming book, A Game of Inches. Truth be told, there was no good reason to watch it.
As part of the show ESPN and the NFL brought to Chicago, were who the pundits felt like were the most likely players to be drafted. I was struck by the outfits they were all wearing. Tuxedos of all shapes, colors, and sizes and many wore gold chains, huge diamond rings and ear studs, and were accompanied with what can only assume were family members, agents, and personal entourages.
Things have certainly changed from the days when our All-American, Jim Barnes, bought a keg of beer and we sat around a phone and a record player at a friends apartment waiting for a phone call from one of the pro teams.
I found myself feeling bad for those athletes who the broadcasters kept referencing as the “next class of millionaires.” Not one announcer mentioned that the average life span in the NFL is less than four years, that each member of the class will incur a permanent injury which will affect their mobility for life, and we now know that at least 90% of that same millionaire class will develop CTE and suffer brain damage at some point in their life. Don’t even get me started on how those entourages will quickly disappear when the gold runs out.
I still love the game and enjoy watching it, so I am conflicted about my own hypocrisy. My football teammates remain some of my closest friends, and were always there to help me when I hit bottom.
My advise to the next class of millionaires — shed the temporary it will soon lose its glitter and hang on tightly to that which is permanent — family, true friendships, and the open doors that football offers, but will not be open forever.
We are all fascinated by the celebrity that NFL football has become, it mirrors a lot else in today’s society including our politics. We should be careful however to recognize it as “fools gold.” The true gold is found outside of spotlights and glamour, beginning with humility and helping others.
I wish all of them luck and they find one soul within their entourages that like Caesar reminds them daily, that all this will soon pass.