Career Changers

NFL Draft, Sports Careers and Bad Breaks

April 23rd, 2010

Came across an interesting article about the Wonderlic intelligence test, which is used by the NFL to evaluate future professional football players. At draft time, it's not just a matter of physical skill when teams make their selections. It takes intelligence to learn all the offensive and defensive schemes, as well as the ability to make split-second decisions. You'll find the article link below.

But if you can't make it as a player, there are many other career opportunities for those who have a passion for sports: trainers, doctors who specialize in sports injuries, sports marketing, merchandising, retail, sports media, and coaching too. The UH has been going through a bunch of coaches lately, and in a future blog post, I'll give my two cents on how the new basketball coach can win back old fans who jumped ship, while attracting younger ones at the same time. (HINT: CHANGE THE PRE-GAME RITUALS AND MUSIC!)

Oh, also wanted to add a postscript to my high school football story in which I recounted my mom's advice to go back just one more day when I was ready to give up. Although I finally was named a starter on the varsity team my senior year, that very same day in a practice scrimmage, I broke my leg...

Having spent the last four years working towards the goal of playing varsity football, I was in deep denial when I heard my leg crack. I limped off the field and refused to get x-rays until the next morning because the pain was so bad. The nurse came out and said, "Well, there goes football for this year." My right fibula, the weight-bearing bone, was snapped clean through.

As my father drove me home, I cried. He suggested I could play baseball instead, but I stunk at that sport. Since there was no chance I'd ever play football at the college level due to my lack of size and speed, my football career was over in effect. Then I looked at the calender and realized the cast would come off with still two games remaining on the schedule...

One thing sports teaches us is how to deal with adversity. It was foolish to think I could wear a cast for a month and a half, then resume playing a contact sport at full speed, hitting guys who outweighed me by 50 to 100 pounds. Yet I began lifting weights down in the basement, and used a "Bullworker" exerciser to stay in shape for the next six weeks. At least I could try to make a comeback.

After Dr. Allegro (great name for a leg specialist!) removed the cast, I asked if it was completely healed. He said, "Yes. Just don't do anything crazy on it." I told my dad, and then my coach that the doctor said it was okay to play.

My right leg had atrophied, so it looked like a thin stick compared to my other leg. But I had the trainer put extra tape around my ankle for support, and limped it back into shape. My first week back at practice was painful. When the team jogged around the field to warm-up, I was bringing up the rear with the heaviest, slowest linemen.

Needless to say, I did not play in the game that Saturday. By the second week, I was jogging in the middle of the pack during warm-ups, and able to cover deep passes from the safety position. So I got to start my first and last varsity game on the same day. I didn't make any heroic plays or screw up too badly, and we won handily. Could I have done serious injury to myself by coming back so soon? Perhaps. Yet the risk was worth it to me. You only get one chance in this life to do certain things.

And when I look back at other decisions I've made in life -- including my career choices -- I feel like the risks were worthwhile, because I pursued my passions. Have you?

Today's relevant links:

Article on NFL draft's Wonderlic test.

Speaking of bad breaks, here's a good U.S. News & World Report piece on what to do if you hit some career "potholes" that disrupt your journey in life.

And lastly, if you think you've had a rough go of things, check out William Donohoe's story of perserverance on our YouTube Channel. It's also airing on this month's Career Changers TV show (click here for schedule).

Have a great weekend!

One Response to “NFL Draft, Sports Careers and Bad Breaks”

  1. Michael:

    The famous quote: "Go for Broke". You tackled the hard part the rest is easy.