People make choices every day of the week. Every single one of them. Some choices are subtle ones, choices that you don't even think about. Which glass should I pour my morning beverage in? What color shirt should I wear today? When should I switch lanes? Most of these choices are irrelevant for the most part, and they don't factor much into the bigger scheme of things.
But at the same time, there are choices that affect one's life very much. Which school should I attend? Which job should I apply for? Should I really pop the question...after a week of dating? Throughout life, while making decisions, one is pressured to make the 'right' choice.
Throughout all of these 'right' or 'wrong' choices, one constant is money. Money or love? Money or education? Money or a career? Choices concerning money are no rarity in sports, and with every one, an athlete needs to make the call, whether it ends up being the right one, or the one that gets what you want.
Morality, or riches?
The 2007 NFL draft featured many young men who had made difficult decisions. It also featured a ton of talent. Multiple superstars were taken: Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson and Patrick Willis. Many more stars were taken, such as Joe Thomas, Marshawn Lynch, Darrelle Revis, Michael Griffin and Jon Beason. Even more guys who have shown flashes of stardom were taken, including LaRon Landry, Amobi Okoye and Dwayne Bowe. And guys like Anthony Gonzalez, Gaines Adams, Aaron Ross, Greg Olsen, Paul Posluszny, Tony Ugoh, LaMarr Woodley, Le'Ron McClain, Kevin Boss, Mason Crosby and more. It's safe to say that there was an incredible amount of talent in the draft.
And we haven't even mentioned any quaterbacks yet. Does Brady Quinn ring a bell?
Leading up to the draft, the position of quaterback was a key one- and what draft isn't it? Like many before and after it, the 2007 one was fielding a high probability of a QB going first overall. But who would it be? Three top prospects stood out, but two seemed to have a clear-cut advantage. Which one could make the leap out of college and become a #1 pick, a future-superstar candidate, and a millionaire at such a young age?
One was the All-American boy, a hard-working QB from Kentucky who decided to go to school close to home and try and lead his beloved team to a national championship. The other one was a kid from the South, a QB who had a tremendous amount of talent but sometimes got a bad rap, who would lead his team during back-to-back seasons ending with big wins (although his backup stepped in and one of them; this will become important) in key bowl games.
As the time got closer and closer, these two quarterbacks both emerged as top prospects in the draft. One was projected by Sports Illustrated to go first overall, one was projected by The Sporting News to go first overall. It seemed like workouts and the combine would be needed to determine the first winner of these two young careers. Who would get the opportunities, the expectations and the money? Only time would tell...
But then something strange happened.
"Right now, coming back and trying to win a national title looks very appealing" he said. And just like that- it was done. The race between two guys had suddenly become a finish for just one. The choice had been made, and it essentially was the 'right' choice. The QB would forego going to the NFL and potentially pass up millions of dollars to go back to school. The other QB continued his plans to go pro, and eventually, they paid off.
"With the first pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders select..." said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and just like that, JaMarcus Russell went from being the QB from LSU and a college kid to a rich young man with a world of expectations. After making the decision based on money rather than morals, how did Russell do? Six years, $68 million, $31.5 million guaranteed, and a position as a staring QB in the NFL as his to lose.
Meanwhile, Brian Brohm went back to school. He returned to Louisville ready to prove to everyone that his senior season would be the best yet, and to position himself for the next year- the 2008 NFL Draft. But unfortunately for him, things didn't go as planned. After making the decision based on morals rather than money, how did Brohm do? He threw a career-high amount of interceptions, had a career-low in passer rating and Louisville suffered to a 6-6 record. Along with that, his draft stock dropped incredibly, and he completely fell out of first round discussion.
As Russell finished his rookie year as a struggling QB, Brohm finished his senior year as as struggling QB. The 2008 NFL draft rolled around, and two quarterbacks went in the top 18: Matt Ryan from Boston College, and Joe Flacco from Delaware. But Brohm was nowhere to be found in the top 18, the top 20, the top 30, the top 40, the top 50 or even the top 55.
A year later, Brian Brohm went 56th to the Green Bay Packers. He signed a contract worth $3.5 million, $1.5 million guaranteed.
Where are these two guys now? Russell is entering his third season and is viewed by many as a potential-breakout player. Last year, his passer rating went way up, his TD/INT % went way down, and he made strides under new coach Tom Cable. Brohm is entering his second year, and is currently listed as the third-string QB on the depth chart in Green Bay; he has yet to throw a pass in a regular season game. We all know who the starter is at Lambeau Field, but who is backing him up? Matt Flynn, a little-known QB from LSU. In case you haven't made the connection (which I doubt many of you have, haha), Flynn was the former backup to Russell for the Tigers. Ironic?
As it stands, Russell's future looks bright, and he has the money in case it doesn't work out. Brohm's future looks bright, as well, albeit it not quite as bright as Russell's. His contact will be up soon with the Packers, and many teams in the NFL seem as though they will be willing to give him a chance. But once again, only time will tell what happens for these two quaterbacks.
Did Russell make the right choice? Absolutely. He got the money he wanted, he got the starting job he wanted, and he is in a position that millions of football players can only dream of. Did Brohm make the right choice? That's debatable. He went back to Louisville, but he didn't accomplish close to what he wanted to. He lost out on millions and didn't get the chance to start like many thought that he would.
In the end, the choices each person makes give greater affects than one might ever know. Not every choice is a good one, and not every choice is the right one. But each choice you make is up to you- no matter what you do with it. It goes to show that no matter what you do, each choice you make has an outcome, and each outcome will make a differnce in your life- even if it happens to be a very subtle one. Everyone has to deal with this, no matter if you are an average person who watches football, or an athlete who happens to play in the NFL. I guess it just shows, if nothing else, that nobody is above anything.
NOTE- I don't have a problem with what Russell did; I probably would have done the same thing had I been in his shoes. And I certaintly don't have a problem with what Brohm did; I have a ton of respect for his decision and I'll be rooting for him throughout his NFL career. The sole purpose of the views I took of these players was for the writing style of this piece.