Staffing Management

The NFL Draft Takes Place Tonight, but I Won’t Be There

By James Tehrani

Apr. 30, 2015

I’m just curious; that’s all.

If you’re a sports fan, you undoubtedly know the start of the NFL draft takes place in Chicago for the first time in decades in a few short hours — but I won’t be there. I tried; I really tried.

My first email correspondence with the NFL took place on Feb. 12, and a series of others followed over the next couple of months. In my initial request to get a press pass for the draft, I told the NFL what I wanted to do: Tape some short video interviews with coaches, executives and players about the NFL’s onboarding program for rookies.

Weeks later, I followed up to see what was going on. Soon after the follow-up, I received a rejection email. I was told it was sent days earlier, but I never got it. When I questioned the rejection decision, I was told by a PR person that the NFL draft isn’t a “relevant event for this topic,” meaning my story idea about onboarding rookies.

While the NFL would prefer to keep the focus on the gridiron as many fans would as well, some of the off-the-field stories that have emerged from players have been a stiff arm to the gut of the league.

As you know, the NFL has had its share of issues in the past couple of years with issues ranging from domestic violence to hazing to brain injuries and concussions. So with the average NFL playing career lasting only about three years, I thought it would be interesting to find out what the NFL is doing to prepare rookies for their careers in football and after it.

I wasn’t planning on anything hard-hitting. Really. I was just curious about what lessons the NFL learned in the past few years and what, if any, changes it has made to prepare its future workers for a pressure-filled but rewarding career in the spotlight.

I understand the NFL’s position here. Really I do.

Perhaps I didn’t explain my story angle well enough. In hindsight, the topic does sound more “60 Minutes” than “Live With Kelly and Michael.” The league wants to focus on the players’ upcoming careers. It’s a dream come true to be picked by an NFL team, and why try to dampen those spirits?

Certainly, that wasn’t my intention.

Like I said, I’m just curious.

James Tehrani is the director of content strategy at FlexJobs.

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