Mark Thomas

Triangle players getting ready for the NFL show

Posted May 1, 2013
Updated May 2, 2013

Many college players from this area either got drafted or signed free agent contracts with NFL teams. For those players, it’s a dream come true. You’re going to have an opportunity to suit up and get paid a king’s ransom to play a kids game.

However, the road to the first week of the NFL season is a long one, paved with twists and turns that are sure to work on your emotions. My best advice is to enjoy every second of it. As much as possible.

Just understand, rookie, that you are in a business now that requires a daily pursuit of perfection in an imperfect game. The NFL is a cutthroat business that is looking for men that can withstand the pressure at the highest level of completion. NFL League Logo NFL Draft 2013

There are players from the Triangle that are going to have an immediate impact on the NFL. I think the three that will top that list are Gio Bernard in Cincinnati, David Amerson in Washington and Sylvester Williams in Denver. Other guys will have an impact down the road but probably not right away. Guys like Earl Wolff in Philadelphia and Jonathan Cooper in Arizona will get a shot to play.

I believe that work ethic always wins out in the long run. There are some things that rookies will be advised about at the rookie symposium that will help away from the field. Veterans will advise these guys on what it will take to succeed on the field.

Things like..

Getting to know your playbook.

The fastest ticket out of league isn’t getting injured, as some might think. It’s not knowing where your supposed to be when the ball turns over. There is a lot to consume. Your head will feel like it’s about to explode.

Write down everything you can and don’t get frustrated. This is the beginning of the process of coaches finding out if you can handle the mental grind of the NFL. Stay up late and study like it’s a final exam for a class. You’ll be too nervous to get any sleep anyway, so while you’re up study.

Have fun.

I know this one sounds ridiculous to fans. I mean, you're playing in the NFL. How can you not be having fun!

The problem is college players are aware of the behind the scenes work that goes into playing the game of football. But after your senior season came so easy to you, you now are getting placed back to being a freshman again.

It is a tough business. But your dreams are coming true so don’t forget to enjoy the ride. An NFL career is so short. It is over before you know it. So enjoy every minute you can.

And finally…

Always know that you have to improve your game EVERY DAY. I was watching Peyton Manning work out a few weeks ago at Duke. He was working so hard on his fundamentals and delivering the football.

In my mind, he’s already the greatest quarterback to ever play the game, yet there he was getting ready for his 16th season. It looked like a guy about to take his first snap in the league. If a football player doesn’t take every opportunity he can to get better, he will be left behind.

Get ready guys. It’s about to get real.


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  • VT1994Hokie May 2, 2013

    "The NFL is a cutthroat business." That's all I really needed to read in this one. You either learn, study, and do the work or you're sent packing. That's the way it should be.

  • StunGunn May 2, 2013

    Mark Thomas gave good advice about the players having to work hard, be sure to improve, study the playbook, and have fun. Playing in the NFL is a dream come true for these guys, but that dream can be very short lived. I wish them all the best.

  • Toddler10-21 May 2, 2013

    Agree abt Manning being the best ever in the regular season. The playoff game shouldnt have went into overtime, but it did. Manning had two drives in OT. Terrible decision, and throw! Hope the kid from Elon makes it.

  • Hammerhead May 2, 2013

    View quoted thread

    I think he'll excel at the next level myself. I think the Bungles are turning it around....though that's been said before.

  • olivechapel1000 May 2, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Agree, Great Player, but worry for anyone plays for the Bengals. Hopefully, he stays healthy.

  • PanthersFan45 May 2, 2013

    I think Gio Bernard will excel in the NFL. He's a great all-around player and he will be a great fit for the Bengals.

  • olivechapel1000 May 2, 2013

    "Get ready guys. It’s about to get real"??

    Really, most of the ones mentioned, mostly likely will play 3-5 years and then have to deal with a life time of injuries and "the real" life.

    "Manning the best ever"?

    I respect that he has played at top level for sometime.
    But he is only as good as his defense and kicker.

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