The National Football League is full of players who come from various backgrounds. All of them, however, had to go through years of schooling before making it big time, whether that means two, three, or a full four years of university learning. Maybe even five year, which is what Brandon Weeden did at Oklahoma State before being drafted by the Browns in 2012.
No, players can’t simply be drafted out of high school like some MLB and NBA athletes are. Going from high school football to the marquee NFL is way too big of an adjustment for a high school player to humanly adapt to.
So, scholarships are handed out left and right to recruit top-performing high school football stars so they can attend the well-oiled machines of Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Michigan, etc.
But it’s what these athletes do with these extraordinary offers that they shouldn’t be passing up on; they’re meant to be student-athletes, not the full-time jock only stereotyped to be the playmaker on the field and a party maniac off the field (ex: everything Thad Castle did in Blue Mountain State).
Recently, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, Jameis Winston, has received criticism after being a guest speaker at a St. Petersburg elementary school. The remarks that he made in front of the children there were not quite the proper message that he was trying to convey. Here’s the video:
Winston later said that this was “poor word choice” and not at all what he was trying to say. He was attempting to have one individual in the crowd, who was a young male, get involved after being distracted.
Fellow players and coaches say that this was a mistake on Winston’s part and that he has definitely learned from it. They all know Winston to be highly motivational and a huge asset to the team as a leader. He’s one of the main reasons why Tampa Bay had a winning season for the eighth time since the new millennium, finishing 9-7 and placing second in the AFC South behind Atlanta.
But on hot take shows like First Take and Pardon the Interruption, analysts of both shows have said that the elementary school should’ve done its research before having Winston come and speak.
While attending Florida State University, despite having successful on-the-field achievement, his off-the-field conduct was far from admirable. Being the subject of many allegations and scandals, including vulgar comments, shoplifting, and a sexual assault accusation (for which he was later proven innocent), the target has been placed on Winston for quite a while.
However, this should in no way create any questioning of the intelligence level of NFL athletes. They are not dumb, stupid, ignorant, dimwitted, pea-brained, or whatever way you want to put it. For having to learn so much information (plays, formations, routes, defensive shifts, coverages, etc.) and play one of the hardest sports in the world, the level of intelligence is at an all-time high for NFL superstars.
Not only has Winston become the youngest player ever to receive a Heisman trophy and claim the title of a first overall draft pick while at FSU, he also maintained a 3.4 GPA as an exploratory major (meaning that he was so interested in a variety of topics that he couldn’t decide on a specific major).
What Winston did was a mistake, which is what a lot of major league athletes have admitted to committing. What matters is what they learn from it and how they move forward. And no, Winston is not dumb. Saying that should be insulting to other players, like him, who worked hard to get where they are.
Eric Berry, cornerback for the Kansas City Chiefs and now the highest paid cornerback in the league, received the 2015 Comeback Player of the Year Award after taking time off to go through a huge amount chemotherapy for his diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. While attending the University of Tennessee, he maintained a 3.7 GPA as a psychology major and also interned at several places of medicinal practice, including a dental surgeon where he learned how to perform a root canal surgery (he could still perform one if he needed/wanted to).
Projected first round draft pick, Deshaun Watson out of Clemson, possesses all the essentials of a quarterback that any NFL team within the first 10 picks this year needs. He has the dynamics, the athleticism, and consistency that will only improve teams like the Buffalo Bills, where Mel Kiper Jr.has projected Watson to go in his latest mock draft (updated on Feb. 15th). He also has stayed out of trouble while attending school, maintaining a GPA of 4.0 and above and receiving a degree in communication this past December. Any team would be lucky to have him.
Before you start questioning the intelligence of NFL players, or any athlete for that matter, do your research and check the facts. You’ll most likely eat your words because of what you find. Athletes from all walks of life may dedicate themselves to the game and their craft, but they are aware of the importance of getting a proper education, and that’s one thing that makes a huge difference in how they perceive themselves and how the media sees them.