Saturday, April 25, 2009

Blocking the Past Away

Everyone has a soft spot for the underdog. Stories are not made by underdogs, tales are made that last generations. It's thrilling to see dynasties such as the Yankees and Patriots take a lick. We relish in others victories as an underdog because it has the power to uplift a city and even a country. Just like Vince Papale did for the city of Philadelphia or what the "Miracle on Ice" did for the United States when defeating the Soviets.

It's defying the odds. It's the modern day David vs. Goliath on national television, only they have replaced the slingshot with a puck or ball. Michael Oher poses as Goliath on the football field, standing 6'6'' and weighing around 320 pounds. Skill and ability are not what make the All-American Michael Oher an underdog. Rather, he found himself as an underdog to make success out of life (see video above).

The NFL's culture is made up of many players like Michael that grew up without a proper parental figure. Young men with troubled/challenging backgrounds that are suddenly introduced to rich and fame. After learning about Michael's story, which included being enrolled in 11 schools over a 9 year stretch, I assume I was only one of thousands of people who were "in his corner."

I sat there watching the infamous NFL draft with my fingers crossed. Hoping my hometown Vikes would take this special individual with the 22nd pick (plus we needed a right tackle). Of course, we take the Gator with questionable character, Percy Harvin. Michael goes with the next pick to the Baltimore Ravens.

I sat there pondering. The NFL is full of guys with good character who have overcome tremendous odds to fulfill their dreams of playing a game for money. Why don't we know more about these guys? Why do we know what kind of motorcycle Kellen Winslow is riding, what Terrell Owens got his mom for Christmas (probably a pic of his 6-pack), or what record label Pacman Jones is creating? The NFL is responsible for the image it creates for itself as the media decides how it's reputation continues to build everyday.

The NFL as a corporation should be modeled in how they generate year-round interest - free agency, the draft, training camp, and the season. Now is the opportunity to match their model business practices with role models like Michael Oher. After being drafted he said he didn't care if he went in the 7th round... he was happy to get to work... he is ready to play 10+ years for the Ravens. The one takeaway I had from his interview is I saw a poster boy and campaign for the NFL draft for the next 10 years.