Two months ago, we profiled Florida high school defensive end Donovan Winter, who was arrested two days prior to National Signing Day for stealing his girlfriend’s father’s gun from the family’s garage. Winter is a prime example of what not to do for high school athletes.
But what about collegiate stars?
Tonight’s NFL Draft in Philadelphia (8 p.m. on NFL Network and ESPN) marks the equivalent transition for these young men who are about to leave college, instead of enter it.
And yet, even with three to four years of coaching and education at some of the finest institutions this country has to offer, young men still make the same mistakes that are inexcusable of high school athletes.
Three cases come to mind in this year’s draft alone, that will likely cost each man millions of dollars, and they are not alone.
Last year, DURING THE DRAFT, a video surfaced on Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil’s Twitter page of him smoking pot with a gas mask on. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock was beside himself and called the video, “stupid and inexcusable.”
Tunsil, once in consideration for the number one overall pick, fell to the Miami Dolphins at pick 13; a difference of $15 million dollars.
This year the spotlight is squarely on Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley, Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon and Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster.
Take it from me, from the moment you play your final game in college, to the weekend of the NFL Draft, don’t talk, don’t go anywhere, don’t do anything outside of school, the NFL Combine and your college pro day.
I am talking total blackout. No friends, no parties, no booze, no women, and most important NO SOCIAL MEDIA. Shut your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, whatever you have, off.
I’m not kidding. Your life should become “yes sir” “no sir” “yes ma’am” “no ma’am” for those five months.
Reuben Foster was a consistent top ten pick amongst scouts at the end of the season.
He was one of the SEC’s most feared linebackers on Nick Saban’s pro-style defense.
Then Reuben went to the NFL Combine.
While getting physical work done in Indianapolis, he became combattive towards a female nurse trying to do her job and was immediately sent home; his draft stock has been in limbo ever since, with people wondering if his character concerns outweigh his immense potential on the field.
The name alone is enough.
In July 2014, Mixon got into an argument with a woman at a bar on campus in Norman and was caught on tape assaulting her, in an ode to the infamous Ray Rice elevator tape. Mixon was charged with a misdemeanor and sentenced to 100 hours of community service.
But the damage had been done. Mixon missed the 2014 season, and now NFL teams must decide if they want to deal with the PR nightmare that would come with drafting him.
Talent wise, Joe Mixon is an incredible back and NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks has him going in the first round to Green Bay in his latest mock draft.
But talent isn’t enough, in an era where the NFL is trying it’s best to combat a culture problem of domestic violence amongst players in it’s ranks.
The New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins have already said Mixon is not apart of their draft plans, and they will not consider him at any point this weekend. After facing the same scenario in 2013 with Ray Rice, and the backlash the organization faced in Baltimore, it’s safe to assume the Ravens are likely to join them, even if they don’t say so publicy.
Gareon Conley presents the most interesting case of the three.
Over the weekend, a woman accused Conley of raping her at a hotel in Cleveland earlier this month after she claims he attempted to force her into group sex with him and two of his friends. The unidentified woman went to the hospital, and was given a rape kit, but refused to talk to police.
Conley insists upon his innocence, and claims the woman was kicked out from his party. But he was still in a situation he never should have been in in the first place (see above rules).
Meanwhile, NFL scouts and investigators are in panic mode trying to verify the claims made against him and determine if he is worth having on their draft boards.
Conley was once seen as a potential top 15 pick, and now his future is in doubt.
Whether the claim is true or not, Gareon Conley won’t be attending the Draft after being disinvited.
Each of these young men provide a lesson as to what not to do when you’re auditioning for a job in the NFL.
So those of you preparing for your final season of college football this summer, take note of Tunsil, Mixon, Conley and Foster and realize how not to make the same mistakes they did.
Because in the end, it will cost you…millions.