In conjunction with my forthcoming podcast (first post Sept 1st - check your local itunes listings) and new twitter feed, I am hoping to enhance and amuse your sports watching experience. My first few posts will be some of my previously unpublished articles from the last 2 years. Enjoy and new content will be coming soon! Be good and be well, my friends.
The Saga of the Undrafted Player
Written by Jeff Bowers on May 1st, 2010
For 255 collegiate players, April 22nd through the 24th proved to be the culmination of their sports lives. For most, since they were just children, they dreamed of the day they would hear their name called to be drafted into the National Football League. All the blood, sweat and tears finally rewarded with a contract to play the game they love at the highest level.
But for many more, the Draft calls into question everything some of these players have ever known.
Sitting in their grandparent’s home in Frisco, Texas, twin brothers Kyle and Korey Bosworth gathered with their family to watch the NFL Draft. The nephews of NFL linebacker Brian Bosworth, the twins had good bloodlines, being highly recruited out of Plano West High and both becoming accomplished linebackers/defensive ends at UCLA. But having read the draft publications, spoken to their agents and to certain teams, the brothers knew they were projected somewhere in the 6th or 7th round. A bit of the blow to the ego, but the gridiron is a cruel mistress, where the truly gifted can humble quickly the purest of heart. So Day One and Two of the draft sail by without much consideration. But as Day Three dawns, the magnitude of the moment begins to make its presence felt. At any one pick, the very shape and path of their lives could be determined. Soon, calls begin to filter in, some from the Bosworth boys’ agent, Jack Mills, and some by interested teams. Kyle fields calls from the brass of the Chargers and the Jaguars expressing their interest in taking him somewhere in the late 6th or 7th round. But as pick number 255 approaches, the phones fall silent, and soon the Draft ends and both players remain unselected.
Now, the NFL has many wonderful success stories of undrafted players rising to great heights. From the amazing story of Kurt Warner and his potentially Hall of Fame career, to the hustling yet heralded careers of Wayne Chrebet or Jim Leonhard, undrafted players can and have made huge impacts despite their “draft warts.” Because as we all know, you can’t measure heart, and how high you jump or fast you run doesn’t make you a Hall of Famer.
However, sitting there surrounded by family, it is very difficult to think about that. For some of these players, who had always been the best player on their teams and highly touted, this serves as their first real rejection as players off the field. Sure, they have all faced bitter defeats, or tough injuries, but few have been told they aren’t worthy of even playing.
However in that moment, it is very easy to begin to question your ability to play at all. All that anxiety and nervous energy of the draft turns against the player, and some walk away right then. Even after this year’s draft, a very draftable Tight End out of New Hampshire, Scott Sicko, declined an offer from the Dallas Cowboys, because he felt by not getting drafted his future did not lie in the NFL. He subsequently changed his mind the next day. In the Bosworth room, both players have these doubts flittering through their minds. But then the deluge of phone calls begins.
The twins go from perhaps the lowest point of their sports careers to suddenly deciding their own future in a matter of moments. Kyle had really enjoyed his experience with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and when that offer comes in, he leaps at it. Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos are making a package deal for both players to come to Colorado. But as Kyle has already picked Florida, and the twins don’t want to compete for potentially the same roster spot, Korey takes the Broncos offer alone. So the two brothers head in opposite directions and opposite teams for the first time in their football careers. Kyle being told he’ll be an inside backer in the Jaguars 4-3, and Korey also moving inside in the Broncos 3-4 defense. Both men having to prove themselves as they have never before, and without their brother as a teammate; hoping to carve out their own place in the list of illustrious undrafted stars in the NFL.
Against the odds and evaluations of the war rooms of 32 teams, Kyle and Korey Bosworth seek to capture the dreams of their youth: to play in the National Football League. And if they both can make it through training camp, past all the cuts, and be on their teams opening day 53-man roster, the twins will play their very first game as professionals standing on opposite sidelines, as the 2010 season for them opens at noon on September 12 with Korey’s Denver Broncos visiting Kyle’s Jacksonville Jaguars.
Update: As with most fairy-tale stories, reality fell far short of expectations. While Kyle did suceed in catching on with the Jaguars and is currently a contributing member of their special teams and a back-up LB, Korey suffered a leg injury, reached a settlement with the Broncos for release, went to Detroit and remained injured. Not sure of his present employment, and would love an update if anyone has one. All in all, I can't help but root for these 2 men to live their dream for as long as they are able. Because that is what life is truely about!