The NFL Draft — Oh, to be 21 Again

Michael Simpson
Apr 19, 2018 · 3 min read

The NFL draft is today, and there is a lot of excitement with all the players being drafted. The potential that their future holds in the NFL is compared to other great players that have had success before them. Every player in the first round has had nothing but success in their athletic careers in college and high school. But what if I told you that the average NFL career is only 2.2 seasons?

There was a joke going around campus when I was at Washington State. It went, “What’s the difference between God and Ryan Leaf?” The punchline was, “God doesn’t think he’s Ryan Leaf.” — Ryan Leaf

In 1998, Ryan Leaf was the number 2 pick . The expectations were high, and he didn’t find instant success. In fact, he was a bust. He was soon out of the league. What followed for Leaf was addiction to painkillers, a suicide attempt, imprisonment and, ultimately, a dramatic change that probably saved his life. He’s now the program ambassador for Transcend Recovery Community, a sober-living environment with nine homes in the Los Angeles, New York and Houston areas. He was not a success in his athletic career in pro sports. What he lacked in poise when he was 22, he makes up now. As a working professional he has used his mistakes and now has a lot to say. He has mentored a lot of young athletes on how to cope with struggles in sports and in life.


On a radio show, he analyzed words from Baker Mayfield, a high prospect at the quarterback position. Mayfield said that he would not change his personality for the NFL.

Remember: Average NFL career is 2.2 seasons.

There are reasons that some players are able to have a long career, despite losing games. They are able to adapt.

When I was 21, I had just graduated college. I believed that since I was a college graduate, that I was entitled to a good job. Without much experience or skills for the job market, I still believed I was entitled to one. I was always told that a college degree will get me a good job.

How naive I was!

Looking back, I wish I had a mentor like Ryan Leaf to guide me. Someone that had struggles early on, and has made it through a failed first career, into a career where he makes an impact on a new generation.

You see, looking back on my 21 year old self, I was a smart. But I was also naive. I thought that I knew so much, but I really didn’t. What I learned in college prepared me for so little in a professional career. Anyone who is over 30 knows that, but most 21 year olds don’t know that.

Now, at age 35 I feel like there’s still a lot to learn. There’s a lot to learn because there is so much I want to do in business and life. The podcast, the writing, the real estate….

As a husband, father, and creator my future is bright. But, I can not get better by hoping for the best. I learn from those who have already made mistakes.

Michael Simpson

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I never imagined I would spill my guts, but I am glad I am. A realtor who is interested in sociology, economics, woodworking, and podcasting.