Before I met my boyfriend of now two years, I would never, ever, ever spend a Sunday afternoon watching college football, and especially not an NFL game. Him being a HUGE sports fan, though, forced me to break my Sunday tradition of doing literally anything that wasn't watching watching football.
I am proud to admit that my Miami Dolphins loving boyfriend has officially converted me into someone who can tolerate a few hours of football on a Sunday and probably even enjoy a good portion of it, too. One thing he introduced me to was the NFL Draft. I had always been under the impression that if a team in the NFL wanted a certain college football player, they would scout him and send him a contract, but I guess that's not how it actually works.
Apparently, there’s this huge event for all football loving fans once a year called the NFL Draft where teams will take turns submitting their pick for their desired player. I have to say that this was actually a lot more enjoyable than watching some actual football games, surprisingly, because I learn so much about the players (courtesy of my boyfriend) who I will eventually see out on the field.
All the players have such unique and interesting backgrounds that you could never distinguish from just watching them play under all their padding on a Sunday. This experience of watching the NFL Draft has taught me that there is so much more to the man underneath the helmet than my stereotypes had caused me to think before.
I could probably write about the accomplishments and the odds defied by all the players in the draft for a whole week, but here are just a few that really impacted me and broke through the stereotypes I once had that football players were privileged men whose sole purpose is to tackle people for an exorbitant amount of money.
Minkah Fitzpatrick is a family-oriented safety for the Miami Dolphins who was willing to give everything up to support his family financially.
Minkah grew up in New Jersey and when Hurrican Irene hit in 2011, his family’s home was destroyed. He was playing football for St. Peter’s Prep in New Jersey at the time, and his family was struggling to pay for his high school schooling, rebuilding their house, and other normal living expenses. Minkah offered to give up his high school football career so he could get a job and help his parents pay the bills, but they wouldn’t let him put his dreams on hold. Minkah went on to play football at Alabama and be drafted in the first round by the Miami Dolphins.
Equanimeous St. Brown is a wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers who took the SAT in English, French, and German…and killed it.
With a dad who is a two-time Mr. Universe body builder and a supermodel mom, success and excellence runs in the St. Brown family. Along with his three brothers, Equanimeous grew up to be trilingual in English, French, and German. If that doesn’t impress you, then how about the fact that he also took the SAT in those three languages? Standardized testing is hard enough for me in one language, let alone taking it three separate times in French and German. Equanimeous is incredibly cultured and intelligent and a great example of someone to break the football player stereotype for me.
Shaquem Griffin will single-handedly defend the Seahawks as a linebacker, and I mean that quite literally.
Due to a prenatal incident, Shaquem Griffin was born with limited use of his hand and eventually had it amputated at a young age. This physical disability was not enough to stop Shaquem from eventually playing for UCF’s football program and getting picked up by the Seahawks. He was named the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 and led the UCF Knights in solo tackles among other impressive statistics. Shaquem Griffin is the definition of perseverance and hard work, and I cannot wait to see him play in the NFL.
Thank you Minkah, Equanimeous, and Shaquem for changing my perspective about American football and showing me that the person underneath all the pads and protection is a well-rounded unique human capable of so much more than meets the eye.