What do Colin Kaepernick, Myles Garrett, and Josh Rosen all have in common? It is not that they are super talented players. It is that they are athletes who do not strictly “stick to sports”.
All of them are looking at their career after football and are not ashamed to speak about it. Colin is the most notable of the three because of his protest against police brutality. Rosen and Garrett are causing scouts to reevaluate what a prospect is supposed to care about.
The days of Tom Brady are almost over in my opinion. More athletes are vocal about social issues, or their aspirations. Football is dangerous and parents are trying to steer their kids away from the sport all together now. Scouts always will say that they want a player that: eats, sleeps, and breathes football. That is what makes a great player, they say, but does it actually?
Garrett and Rosen are two polarizing young prospects that the football world has seen. Garrett was a no brainer to be the top pick in the draft. Weeks before the draft, rumors began challenging that. Insiders reported that the Browns wanted to take Mitchell Trubisky over Garrett. Why would they take a quarterback that most scouts pegged as a second round talent over a supposed generational talent? I do not know, but the question was asked after his feature in ESPN The Magazine.
Garrett loves football, but it is not his only love. He loves dinosaurs and wants to be a paleontologist after his career is over. That shocked many individuals because it was different. Garrett is the complete opposite of, Jamal Adams. Adams is known for his passion for the sport. He is not shy about it and it is admirable. Garrett does not have to be him, but it is suggested by many.
Garrett does not necessarily view football like Adams and he should not have too. He sees himself doing things outside of the sport. He is using the game of football as a launching point because he loves to play. His passion is not oozing out like Adams is, but he does express it.
In an ESPN feature, in April, he stated that he wants his NFL career to be 10-12 years. He has a precise plan and vision for where he wants his life to go and is that such a bad thing?
In life, I was told that you need to have a vision for the short-term and the long-term future. I should work towards my long-term goals, but remember what I want in the present. People can work on multiple passions at once and prioritize one over the other.
Josh Rosen is a future franchise quarterback, and in August of 2017, he made a splash. He stated that “football and school don’t go together” and the media world went into a frenzy.
Josh Rosen needs to stop spouting off nonsense and worry about living up to the hype — which he hasn't to this point.
— Danny Kanell (@dannykanell) August 8, 2017
Rosen is an economics major at UCLA and while he was stating that football and school do not mix, he stated it by referencing his dilemma and his observations. He mentioned that the tutors are not there to see you receive an A, but they are there to keep you on the field. Making sure that you obtain the best grade possible is something he has not experienced from his advisors.
Rosen’s comments were directed at the system and not the college. Ryen Russillo of the Russillo show on ESPN stated that he spoke with a coach at a big time program, and asked him “how many guys believe they are going to the NFL”, the coach responded by saying ” maybe 3 do not believe they will make it” and that is amazing to me. Majority of these athletes at the Power 5 conferences believe they will eventually make it to the NFL and college is the platform to make it, but are colleges preparing their players for the life if they do not?
When athletes speak up about their aspirations outside of football, they are labeled as “troublesome or not focused” but why? In any other profession, people would love to hear your secondary plan after the initial one fails. Guys who “stick to sports” are often left wondering what they should do after sports is over for them.
Colleges and the NFL need to prepare their players better for when sports are over for them because in most cases we are dealing with kids. Guys who are 23-27 realizing they have lost their dream and now they have to figure it out instead of being prepared early. Dismissing the fact that most NFL players do not last longer than four years should be enough reason for colleges and the NFL to partner up on this specific issue.
The NCAA is a multi-billion dollar business and they are able to flourish because of the “amateur” status they put on their athletes. Rosen was only pointing out things he disagreed with about the system and everyone called him privileged or that he should just stick to sports.
Garrett has always been a great player on and off the field, but because he has a calm demeanor and loves paleontology, his motor or will to play is questioned. The NFL has a violent label towards it and hates when their players are anything other than followers of the “shield.” Garrett and Rosen are examples of younger players who go against the mold that the league is used to. When you go against that mold then the league will make an example out of you.
Insert Colin Kaepernick, who still is looking for employment in the NFL and it does not look like he will find a team soon. Kaepernick has taken a lot of unwarranted scrutiny in the past year for his peaceful protest against police brutality. Many individuals have taken his protest and made it about the military. When he was asked about why he sat during the anthem, he said it was about the recent killings of unarmed African-Americans. The shifting of the argument was the fact that annoyed many individuals in the country. Trent Dilfer and other analysts were first stating that Colin was doing this to keep his job, but that was false. Colin helped fuel the “stick to sports” ideas on all sides.
Sports and politics have been conjoined since the beginning in American culture. John Carlos and Tommie Smith protested at the 1968 Summer Olympics and that was 49 years ago. When individuals state that Colin should have protested a different way, I wonder what others ways are there? They fail to provide another way for him to protest. Whenever he came out and stated that he was not disrespecting the military, people still go back and say he is lying. The longer that Kaepernick stays unemployed, the more you will see the other athletes partake in his movement.
More players have come out this year and have voiced their frustrations for Kaepernick’s cause. The resemblance of a movement amongst football players is happening, and the trump card will be when star quarterbacks start to partake in the cause as well. Derek Carr has already started, but I will love to see more.
This issue is very divisive and it challenges what people want to deal with in their daily lives. Sports is an escape for many individuals from their regular lives, and politics is slowly creeping back into the league.
The NBA viewership dipped in the 1970s for many reasons. One reason was who their main star was, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He was a politically savvy and articulate player who voiced his concerns about the country. Articles claiming that the NBA was too “black” started to be written, and now it has made its way into the NFL.
The NFL never really had to deal with politics in their sports. Many of their players just played, but also their contracts were not guaranteed. Football players did not have the same security as players in other leagues but that is changing now.
Players like Michael Bennett care about their community more than they care about the league, but he is a star. When star players realize that they control the league like players in the NBA do, then the change will happen. The players provide the sport with their income and without them, the NFL disappears.