This evening, I was scanning the list of college free agents the Broncos could sign. As I started ranking the defensive tackles like they were part of some board game, I suddenly remembered something: almost all of these guys have probably dreamed for years about playing in the NFL.
Then I was struck by something else.
You have to be crazy to want to play in the NFL.
Here are a few figures from the NCAA that might surprise you:
- Approximately 6.0 percent, or less than one in 16 of all high school senior boys playing interscholastic football will go on to play football at a NCAA member institution.
- Approximately one in 50, or 1.7 percent of NCAA senior football players will get drafted by a National Football League (NFL) team.
- 8 in 10,000, or approximately 0.08 percent of high school senior boys playing interscholastic football will eventually be drafted by an NFL team.
Take comfort, however, that these same high school seniors have a 1 in 10,000 chance of being struck by lightning sometime in their life. So the odds are better to get to the NFL. But not by much.
I wonder how many of these 8 out of 10,000 players have ever given much thought to these other sobering statistics:
- The average career of an NFL player is just over 3.5 years.
- 78% of NFL players are either bankrupt or under financial stress due to joblessness or divorce within two years of retiring from the league.
- NFL athletes are more than twice as likely to die before they are 50 years of age than professional baseball players. All NFL owners are already over the age of 50.
- Only 46% of NFL players have college degrees.
It's important to remember that the NFL narrative that gets marketed to most of us is that of the John Elways of the world. But for every John Elway, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, or Peyton Manning, there are thousands who are headed for the scrap heap (or will be within four years).
Sweet dreams are made of this. Who am I to disagree?