It’s NFL Combine week, a time when potential NFL draft prospects don skin-tight Under Armor skivvies and run really fast and jump super far. Or at least that’s the goal.
As important as it is for young football players to showcase their physical attributes, it’s equally as important for them to use their manners and exhibit their best behavior off the field.
Based on some (NOT all) past NFL player conduct, I question whether they got this message before they were drafted or they simply ignored it when they signed contracts.
In an effort to help draft prospects, I’ve identified some housekeeping tips they should heed as they head to the field and into meetings with NFL team personnel. I promise you, young athletes, you’ll be happier and more productive if you follow them, because they will help keep you away from media and public scrutiny for things you may do or once did off the field. And to the NFL, agent and team personnel, you’re welcome.
Know the media’s role – If you didn’t learn in college (shame on your school!), ask a reporter or public relations coach about what the media does and why. (Quick answer – the media’s role is to write and broadcast stories about you and your team and share them with a mammoth football-loving public.) Do not buy into the myth of some rogue athletes of late that insist the media is out to get you. Reporters are too busy and their staffs are too small for them to do anything but their jobs.
Improve your social media game – You like to tweet, post to Facebook and believe Snapchat pictures disappear into thin air. For starters, nothing is ever truly gone. Know that some of the things you share won’t sit well with NFL general managers and coaches. My best advice is that which I hope your mother gave you when you were in kindergarten: if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all. I’ll add that you’re welcome to share links of information or thoughts about a great book you’ve read. The book referral will show you use your brain during your downtime, too. Bonus points!
Scrub your social media – You don’t have to delete your accounts or posts, but read through past social media posts and delete ones with pictures of you partying or ones that scream colorful language. NFL team personnel don’t expect you to be angels, but they will question you if you’re pictured with cocktails in your hand every other shot – and speaking of, by all means, delete the photos of you doing shots! Do you use disparaging language about others? Delete.
Going forward, a couple of tips that combine social and traditional media:
Don’t pick fights on or off the field– You’re best to keep your head down and your work ethic up during NFL Combine week. Be respectful to coaches, front office and medical personnel and other athletes. Regarding social media posts, keep them positive and encouraging. Readers will embrace you if you share your anticipation and excitement for the opportunity to showcase your talents in front of NFL professionals. Whatever you do, don’t pick or feed into social media fights. It’s cliché, but haters will hate. Ignore those people. Don’t get into petty online fights with social media followers this week or ever.
Respect the media – There will be lots of reporters at the NFL Combine. A reported
900 1,071 credentials have been issued for this year’s event in Indianapolis, which makes it the most ever, and highest NFL credentialed event outside of the Super Bowl. Did a reporter criticize your game or NFL readiness in an article or report? Did one ask you about a controversial topic that dates back to your college career? Don’t lash at him or her. Answer thoughtfully and respectfully. Media are doing their jobs. If you spew hate for reporters like some current professional athletes have, strap on a lead ball because only that will help your draft stock plummet faster than two simultaneously torn ACLs.
I hope this helps in some small way, NFL hopefuls. While the NFL Combine doesn’t reveal your complete league readiness, it’s covered from all angles and watched carefully by football personnel, media and fans. Run fast, jump far and lift heavy weights. And respect the media.