Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Kyle Murphy, and Kevin King should all have dinner this week. The first three can tell King about their experiences from last year where a rule that secondary coach Joe Whitt referred to as “antiquated” tossed a wrench into a critical developmental period as rookies in the NFL. Luckily, the Packers aren’t alone in suffering through another one of the NFL’s senseless policies.
These four Packers have fallen victim to a rule the NFL enforces that states draftees cannot attend OTAs until their academic school year is completed. In the corporate world, imagine that you accepted a job offer, but your new company said you couldn’t start working until your educational institution’s academic period was over, regardless if you’re still taking classes or not (King withdrew from school before the draft). For today’s college graduate who is five, often times six figures in debt, it would be infuriating to be told you can’t start earning money because of some asinine company policy. That show on on ESPN or NFL Network about rookies should actually be called Hey Rookie, Welcome to the NFL Where You May Be Forced to Start From Even Farther Behind Because the NFL has to Put on a Facade Like They Actually Care About a College Education that Most Draftees Never Even Cared About to Begin With Because They Were Forced to Play College Football in Order to Have a Chance in the NFL Where Nothing is Guaranteed Anyway.
Well, maybe Hey Rookie, Welcome to the NFL runs off the tongue a bit easier.
Now, the Packers coaching staff seems to be taking the Special-Ed approach, where they are going to catch King up by going slower and not including him in team drills. If you need to catch up to your buddy on the road, you don’t do it by going 10 mph under the limit. It’s OTA’s. If there’s a time to take a baptism-by-fire approach, it’s now! The team was forced to take that approach in the secondary last year, and the wounds from that aerial assault are still fresh and stinging.
Last year, Murphy played sparingly, but that was planned due to an established offensive line. Lowry and Clark, on the other hand, had opportunities to set up shop on the field had their performance warranted it. Both showed promise here and there as the year progressed. Had they not been held back in OTAs, they very well could have made splashes earlier and more often.
Let’s get real, NFL. Let these young men be what they are: men. In an age when a university education diminishes in value each year, it’s ridiculous to act like the last quarter of an academic career has any significance for athletes who either enroll in cupcake majors or blow off class for 3-4 years anyway. These are also young men who pull in millions for the university each year while playing for free. The least you can do is let them start sprinting with the others toward a finish line that most players will never come close to crossing anyway.
________________John Piotrowski is a UW-Eau Claire alum, spending most of his life in western WI. He makes the trek east to Lambeau whenever possible. Follow him on twitter at @piosGBP.