NFL dreams can often get complicated

Published 12:42 pm Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The road to having an NFL career has grown complicated with each passing year.

The Senior Bowl is the perfect example. Twenty years ago, Alabama and Auburn players were both usually picked to play in the Senior Bowl because game officials always wanted to fill the seats at Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium on the last Saturday each January.

Under the old format, Alabama offensive guard Lester Cotton Sr. would’ve played in the contest. Cotton is considered a late round selection and could’ve used the exposure at the Senior Bowl. All Cotton has going for him is Alabama’s Pro Day, which will be held on March 18, in Tuscaloosa. A strong showing could vault him into round five.

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Wide receiver Ben Obomanu may not have played under the new format. Obomanu, who starred at Selma High and Auburn, played in the 2006 Senior Bowl and spent several years with the Seattle Seahawks. He was a seventh-round draft pick.

Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson, a former Dallas County star, played in the 2008 Senior Bowl after finishing at Georgia Tech. Johnson was a third-round pick in 2008 and I believe the new format wouldn’t have affected him.

The NFL has taken control of the Senior Bowl by selecting the league’s best pro prospects and run controlled, televised practices for the NFL Network.

I heard there’s a possibility that the Senior Bowl could leave Mobile. In 2009, Jacksonville made a strong pitch to get the game. Tampa has also been mentioned as a possible challenger. I heard last Dallas was another possibility, especially if Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wants the game there. Jones often gets his way.

The game’s sponsorship agreement with Reese’s and the Hershey Company, expires after 2020.  I hadn’t been to the Senior Bowl practice or games in years, but the All-Star event is a great fit for the Alabama Gulf Coast. I’d hate to see Mobile lose the Senior Bowl.

The second example is NFL prospects no longer spend the off-season with their family and friends. Players usually work out with their teams during the summer between college media days and the start of fall practice. Once their college eligibility expires after bowl season, they hire an agent and a trainer to begin the NFL process.

Sometime it works out, sometime it doesn’t. It did for Obomanu and Johnson. I guess that’s the price you pay with hopes to become an NFL player and earning millions.