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Dan Rooney urges college football players to stay in school

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A record number of underclassmen are declaring early for the NFL Draft this year, and a good number of those players will not be drafted by an NFL team. Some may not even receive a contract offer after the draft wraps up. Dan Rooney, chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers, penned a column suggesting college football’s star players resist the urge to enter the NFL Draft before completing their college eligibility. Some of Rooney’s comments are debatable, but considering Rooney’s respect level in the NFL, it is an interesting point of view expressed.

Rooney suggests that players are receiving four-year scholarships that pay for their entire college experience, which of course has been argued to be a blatant lie on a number of levels. Rooney also suggests that many NFL teams do not want players leaving early, although if that were truly the case would they not tend to stray away from the underclassmen? NFL teams will pluck the top juniors if they will help their team win, but Rooney is likely directing his comments to those underclassmen that hope to be drafted in the late rounds.

According to Rooney, the NFL Player’s Association has conducted a study that suggests players who play their full four years in college go on to have longer careers in the NFL. That is actually a pretty interesting point. Why is that? Rooney explains.

“Because those men are more prepared to be professional players, both on and off the field,” Rooney says.  “This is why the players union has always supported college players staying in school.”

Rooney may have his own league to blame in part for enticing more and more underclassmen to get in to the NFL. Or perhaps the agents are to blame. The way contracts escalate in the NFL, it is a financial incentive to get in to the league earlier and start making more money at an earlier age, as opposed to sticking around another year (or two) in the college game and fall behind in the payment structure of the league. Rooney challenges that idea as well and suggests the NFL has the best interests of the younger players in mind.

“College players should not be encouraged to make decisions contrary to their long-term interests by people who are motivated by a desire for short-term, and often illusory, gains,” Rooney says. “We will continue to work with colleges, the Players Association and others to encourage young men to stay in school. If they make it into the NFL, they have a better opportunity to enjoy long and productive careers and continue to live well for many years after their playing days turn into memories.”

You can read the full column from Rooney via Journal Sentinel.

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14 Responses to “Dan Rooney urges college football players to stay in school”
  1. goodfieldnohit says: Mar 8, 2014 9:44 PM

    The rookie wage scale has essentially turned college football into the NFL feeder league.

  2. meatcarroll says: Mar 8, 2014 9:50 PM

    What a joke. Don’t listen to those pretentious career academics with the audacity to claim that the point of college is to pursue knowledge or heighten critical thinking skills or some other bullcrap. The point of college is to get a real job. If these kids are confident they’ll be drafted, regardless of where, they need to declare and never look back. There’s a very narrow window in their lives where their physical prime can earn themselves a substantial amount of money. The first NFL paycheck is more than enough to return to college in the future, should they choose to do so. They owe almost nothing to this indentured servitude which makes billions of profits from their toiling without them seeing any of it.

  3. manik56 says: Mar 8, 2014 10:52 PM

    Lets just have the NFL Draft when all the kids are done with high school. Let the teams tell the prospects when they are ready. College Hockey and College Baseball can handle it. Why not College Football and the NFL?

  4. digbysellers says: Mar 8, 2014 11:12 PM

    Meat’s comments hurt my brain this late at night

  5. Professor Fate says: Mar 9, 2014 3:54 AM

    Self-serving hypocrisy, Danno.

  6. steeltroll says: Mar 9, 2014 6:47 AM


    Really? What part of reflecting deeply on Plato’s Republic is for the sake making money? College should prepare people for the market and produce well rounded individuals. And critical thinking is precisely requisite for employment unless you think being a dumb ass is a virtue. College is too expensive, but clearly you could have used a couple more semesters. I think Rooney is suggesting that there is life after football and that maybe college could be instrumental in that life being good. And I don’t think the point is monetary.

  7. anonymous135 says: Mar 9, 2014 8:19 AM

    Sure it is.. one xtra year of free development, more established name recognition from stars… actually Florio covered this pretty well over at PFT.

    I’m always open to debate, but this seems biased, blatantly.

    If the kids got ties in to the revenue NCAA receives, I’d be less skeptical.. but scholarships and an opportunity towards a college degree don’t make up for the fact that by leaving a year early (and having the talent to do so) will allow you to pay for the college of your kids and family..

    That’s the hope they have.

    You won’t make anymore money staying an extra year, you do the quicker you get in and get your 2nd contract.

  8. steeler1nation says: Mar 9, 2014 10:16 AM

    I stopped listening to everything the Rooney’s had to say in 2008, when they decided to publicly campaign for that clown Obama.
    …(and I’m a die-hard Steelers fan.)

  9. titansbro says: Mar 9, 2014 10:27 AM

    These kids aren’t going to college for an education. It’s time to face that fact. These kids are trying to make it in the NFL. They are forced to play 3 years of free football as there isn’t a minor league. So to tell them to stay that extra year when they can leave & start getting paid is flat out BS. Even 7th rounders & undrafted FAs (assuming they make a roster) make more money in their first year than most college grads will make in their first 5 years of employment. And guys on practice squads make the same annually as most of these grads. There is nothing preventing them from going back to finish school if it doesn’t work out in the NFL. Get paid while you can.

  10. gorilladunk says: Mar 9, 2014 11:46 AM

    The problem for most guys who leave early is they have an over-inflated opinion of their value and skill, mostly driven by family members and potential agents. If the majority of these players would sit down with their coaches they would probably get a more honest evaluation of where they might get drafted. The league provides info to underclassmen about where they might be chosen in the draft, but that info is very unreliable. Unless a player is a sure fire first or second round talent, they’re better off staying in school.

  11. bigdinla says: Mar 9, 2014 11:54 AM

    That is why most of the good college coaches( Saban, Meyer, Shaw. Etc..) tell their kids to stay in school UNLESS they get a first – third round grade.

  12. marvin216 says: Mar 9, 2014 2:55 PM

    I think the 3 year/age of 21 rule for the NFL is good. Many players have families with financial hardship, and going to the NFL may be the best thing for the college player to do to help his family.
    Players that leave early, should get an evaluation which would let them know if they are 3rd round or better in the draft.
    Also, players that only have aspirations for the NFL should be required to take life skills and money management courses to prepare them for the professional world of the NFL.

  13. stew48 says: Mar 9, 2014 5:32 PM

    “…blatant lie”. How arrogant and ignorant of you.

  14. iwishwvuwouldbeatbama says: Mar 11, 2014 5:25 PM

    So i thought this was America, No one told Mr. Rooney when he should start making his money.Of course he wants them to stay in, it gives another year of development and another year of scouting on the prospects. This is laughable.

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