Later today when the clock strikes 11PM across the country, the audition will end for 2,880 NFL hopefuls. Of course, a large number of those players know where they will be playing in 2018. But given the fact that NFL teams have to cut down from 90 players to 53 between 11 o’clock tonight and 4PM on Saturday, 1,696 players will keep their jobs while a staggering 1,184 careers will be temporarily derailed.
Think about that!
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A player spends a significant portion of his entire life working in the gym, studying film, focusing on nutrition and honing his craft in pursuit of a dream. He’s an athlete who dominated early on but as they advanced they become less dominant as the competition increases and the athletic prowess of opponents matches or sometimes exceeds their own.
Some players will be picked up by other teams, keeping the dream alive. But when they are added to a roster, it displaces another NFL hopeful, who like so many others, will find themselves back in the unemployment line.
Hope stays alive however, thanks to the practice squad. Three-hundred and twenty players will be safe – at least temporarily, so that they can continue the audition and prove that they belong among the world’s elite football players. But that still leaves 864 players on the outside looking in, waiting and hoping.
As we focus on these hopefuls, I’m reminded of a conversation between the two central characters in one of my favorite movies of all-time, Shawshank Redemption. The characters, Red Redding played by Morgan Freeman and Andy Dufresne played by Tim Robbins, discuss hope.
“Red” Redding says, “Hope is a dangerous thing my friend. It can kill a man.”
To which Andy replies, “Hope is a good thing maybe even the best of things and good things never die.”
To those 864 players…look around the league. Look at how some of the game’s best didn’t quit. They fought through adversity and kept hope alive. Here’s to you doing the same!