Once a week leading up to the 2008 NFL Draft, three-time Super Bowl winner Clayton Holmes will personally explain some of the pitfalls he fell into as a player: Money problems, inability to say "no," the gold diggers, the party culture, his own demons from childhood. As told to BC sportswriter James David Dickson.
A Word on Expectations
Imagine, if you will, two NFL rookies. Let's call them Tom and Joe.
Joe was a regular fixture on Mel Kiper's draft board before failing a drug test at the Combine. He was lucky to get drafted at all, let alone so early — third round — but he doesn't see it that way. All he sees are the millions of dollars that should've been his but aren't.
Tom wasn't even drafted out of college. His old college coach called in a favor and scored him a tryout with the local team. He finds the learning curve tougher than some of the guys who came from more complex systems in college, but he sticks with it and improves a little each day. He stays late and does extra film study, which his coaches notice and his fellow rookies emulate.
Tom's just happy to be there, and gives it his all every day to maintain that opportunity. Because Tom expects nothing — except that he'll give his best effort and show initiative — he's happy when the coaches finally start riding him, because that means they feel invested in his progress. Scrubs don't get yelled at in the NFL; only would-be contributors who are playing like scrubs do.
Joe gets off on the wrong foot with his teammates — veterans and rookies alike — by repeatedly "forgetting" to bring breakfast for his fellow DBs. This leads to a verbal confrontation with a few of the veterans which ends with Joe tied to the goal posts for 45 minutes after practice, as much time as it took for him to wriggle loose.
He doesn't take the rebuke well. "Fuck that shit, man," he says to another rookie the next day, well in earshot of his defensive captain. "What's fetching sandwiches got to do with football?"
The other rookie shrugs his shoulders – "I'm just trying to play 'ball, man" — and walks away.
By the end of training camp Joe's become an outcast in the locker room and, not surprisingly, he doesn't make the final cut. Tom's coach, meanwhile, admires how the kid gets downfield on special teams and seems to have a nose for the ball. He makes the practice squad and lands a starting job a quarter through the season.