The NFL is a business.
If you hang around NFL players long enough, you’ll hear that sentiment a lot. The funny thing is, the same five words can mean different things on different days.
One day you’re celebrating a big, new contract. The NFL is a business!
Another day, maybe the next season, you’re in tears (yes, NFL players shed tears, too) trying to understand how a team could just let you go. The NFL is a business.
This week on Ballers — Episode 6 of Season 2 — we saw just how dramatic the ebbs and flows of business in the NFL can be. The bottom line is that the NFL is more cutthroat than players expect, no matter how much star power they have. If Peyton Manning can get released, you can bet your ass that you are expendable, too. That’s a truth that a lot of young NFL players don’t believe until it happens to them.
Charles Greane is dealing with life after being cut from the Dolphins. In what seems like a seamless move to a job in the front office, Charles finds himself right back in the business of the league. His first order of business? Cut the Dolphins’ Pro Bowl offensive tackle. Nobody wants to be the cut guy. As Larry Siefert, the Dolphins GM, so eloquently put it, Charles has to transform from “the black swan to the circling vulture.” Every team has their cut guy, and every guy on the team knows exactly who it is.
When I got signed by the Texans in 2013, it was such a euphoric moment for me. I had to try out at their rookie minicamp which occurs right after the NFL draft, and after it was over, the GM pulled me into his office and said they were going to sign me. I was ecstatic. I had to fly home first, pack a bag and then fly back. I got my locker and my playbook, and was quickly integrated with the O-line. It was like a dream.
But after our first meeting, I walked out of the room, and there he was: the cut guy. The other veterans and I knew exactly what was about to happen. One by one we all walked past him. That meant we were safe. Finally, he grabbed one of the rookies by the arm. We never saw him again. Not on our team anyway.
That’s the NFL roller coaster. I was signed to the team; therefore, another O-lineman had to be released. So it goes.
Sometimes, an NFL player brings on his own demise. Ricky Jerret may be headed down that road, as we saw in this week’s episode. Ricky continues to struggle with his free-agent decision. He had two teams after him, but sometimes having two legitimate options can muddy the waters. But while he was trying to choose, his dad tweeted the following tweet:
“To hell with New Orleans! My boy @rickyjerret got a better offer from Buffalo.”
The Saints promptly rescinded their offer.
This not only highlights how overbearing parents can get athletes in trouble, but also how dangerous social media can be. One stupid tweet just took $33 million dollars off the table. I can’t even imagine how mad I would be if that happened to one of my clients. It appears that Ricky will have no other option than to sign with the Bills.
Meanwhile, Spencer had a great show. He was in need of a win after a few bad episodes for his character. In an effort to make TV commentator Mark Schlereth eat his words about bad-boy linebacker Travis Mach, Spencer arranges a fishing outing for Mark, Travis, Jason and himself. As the beer starts to flow, the men become bolder. Eventually, Spencer declares that Travis can run a sub-4.6 40, which is blazing for a linebacker. Mark, who believes Travis’s absence from the NFL combine raises “character” issues, promises that he will change his opinion when and if Travis runs the 40. But Travis, after a few beers deep, becomes hesitant, but after one last chug, he runs a 4.5 40.
Beer and backflips ensue. Great television.
Life in the NFL operates on highs and lows. It’s very uncommon to find guys coasting through their NFL careers. Ballers is taking this roller-coaster approach as well. For every win that Spencer and the guys have, there is a loss of equal size that accompanies it. Spencer has a lot going on right now. He’s battling both an addiction to painkillers and a rival agent. It’s hard to tell which way Joe, his partner played by Rob Corddry, is leaning after getting a job offer from Andre this week, but we do know that whichever way he goes, it will have a big effect on Spencer.
Until next next week.
Check out my other Ballers recaps from Season 2 here.