Don’t take stock in it


“Tom Brady” © 2009 Keith Allison,used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license

Despite being drafted in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, Tom Brady has gone on to have an illustrious NFL career, highlighted by three Super Bowl rings. Brady is a shining example of how one’s opinion of another person doesn’t effect their value or potential.

The month of April is a nerve-wracking month for high school students and collegiate athletes alike. It’s a time of scrutinous judgment where they are frequently told, “sorry, but you’re just not up to our standards.”

Now what is it that elite collegiate athletes and nervous high school students incessantly stress over during Spring time? While they may have very few similarities when examined at face value, the NFL Draft and the college admissions process put top college football players and average high schoolers across the nation through very similar situations and with nearly identical takeaways.

While I don’t mean to say that getting into Arizona State should be the same as  donning  an Indianapolis cap, shaking Roger Goodel’s hand, and receiving the first overall selection, the respective processes send athletes and students a very similar message: success is never given.

Three players in particular prove this point beautifully; Jamarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf and Tom Brady specifically display that popular opinion of you has absolutely no effect on the player you are, or the man you can be.

Let’s start things off with Russell. Coming out of LSU, he was heralded as the quarterback of the future. He was athletic, could make plays and had a howitzer for an arm that could hurl the ball upwards of 80 yards. After being selected first overall and holding out through training camp, he was saddled with a six year, $60 million contract from the Oakland Raiders. Russel proceeded to win seven games over three years, balloon up to 300 pounds and become hopelessly addicted to codeine. Certainly not a shining role model for the Bay Area.

Ryan Leaf is a similar story. Before being selected before Peyton Manning by the San Diego Chargers, Leaf was held in high regard by coaches and scouts alike. But coaches and scouts couldn’t see his one, unmanageable flaw in his ego. Leaf would routinely start locker room drama and create unnecessary feuds with the media. That, coupled with his career quarterback rating of 50.0, made Leaf’s run in the NFL short lived and thoroughly embarrassing.

On the other side of the coin, we have Tom Brady. Coming out of Serra and the University of Michigan, Brady didn’t pique the interest of many scouts and as the NFL Draft came upon him, he patiently sat for two days and six rounds before his name was finally called. Brady sat on his couch, as he heard six quarterbacks called before him. Brady’s hand now has a trio of Super Bowl rings, while all of the quarterbacks who were selected before him now watch the sunday action from their own couches.

It’s plain for all to see that one’s opinion is not only entirely superfluous to whether or not one will succeed, but it is often times absolutely wrong. It’s sometimes the intangibles and what one can’t see that makes the difference. While I don’t mean to belittle natural talent and say that all those who are held in high regard are done so falsely, it is important to note that simply because some people view you as inadequate, you are worth no less to anyone.

To Seniors across the country, I’m sure you’ve all been given this talk before. The “Zuckerburg didn’t graduate college and look at him,” spiel. Yea, but he also got into Harvard, so there’s that. But in all seriousness, one, or one hundred college rejections for that matter, will by no means determine the man you will become. Your fate is your own to decide, and no one’s opinion of you will ever change that. Seeing as my time at The Viking is coming to a close, I’ll leave you with this as one of my final messages, Paly. Don’t let others make you doubt yourself.