The Real Girlfriends Of The SEC
By Mike Crocker
The SEC had some of college football's most exciting young gunslingers in the 2013 season. We saw the likes of Johnny Manziel, AJ McCarron and Aaron Murray rack up major stats, which launched them to the NFL Draft. Now that the draft is complete and the dust has settled, there was one trend amongst SEC quarterbacks: They fell on draft day. Here's what I mean:
- Johnny Manziel | Texas A&M / Projected Top 10 pick* / Drafted RD 1 Pick 22 overall
- Aaron Murray | Georgia / Projected 4th round pick* / Drafted RD 5 Pick 163 overall
- AJ McCarron | Alabama / Projected 3rd-4th round pick* / Drafted RD 5 Pick 164 overall
*ACBSSports.com & NFLDraftscout.com
Analysts will debate why these quarterbacks slipped a notch on draft boards and whether franchises got tremendous value from those picks. There is also one other common factor linking these three quarterbacks together, which doesn’t have to do with football at all:
Johnny Manziel reportedly has dated numerous girls. Aaron Murray is dating Fox 29 reporter Kacie McDonnell, and AJ McCarron just proposed to his long-time girlfriend and model Katherine Webb.
Pop culture and social media have changed the way we look at the draft. SportsCenter will dedicate time in the broadcast to show a Twitter picture from Manziel with his arms wrapped around a girl while out in downtown College Station. Brent Musburger interrupted the broadcast of the 2013 BCS championship and caused a huge stir raving about Webb.
Even the third overall pick, UCF quarterback Blake Bortles, got questions about his girlfriend, Lindsey Duke, during the Combine and allegedly at meetings with NFL executives. It's a casual topic, but the fact is these women receive a lot of buzz because of their significant others.
The centerpiece question becomes whether NFL executives take a player's girlfriend into consideration when deciding between Player A and Player B. And if so, is it ethical? Can you question if a player's significant other has any impact on how NFL teams perceive him?
There are many angles to this issue and while this is primarily a conversational piece, let's go ahead and conjure up a few words of advice to future college football players in the form of an open letter:
Dear Current and Future High Profile College Football Players,
Congratulations on making it to the college level.
If you're privileged enough to wind up on some SportsCenter highlight reels or Top Ten plays, I’m sure people are going to start to realizing who you are and how successful you aspire to be. That attention might even put you in the right place at the right time to meet the girl of your dreams, who doubles as a solid support system, and a potentially unlimited source of baked goods.
There might come a time if you're lucky enough that you will be drafted into the NFL by any one of the 32 current franchises spread out all over the country. Plenty of draft evaluators will critique, analyze and debate every aspect of your existence from your play on the field to your hand size.
However, an overly large spotlight occasionally becomes a negative factor in that process, most recently with Manziel. Manziel's Twitter account was the source of plenty of stories that questioned the quarterbacks maturity and readiness to lead, and it might have possibly even influenced some teams to cross him off their draft boards.
Other NFL hopefuls though aren’t as outspoken, such as McCarron. He had one of the best careers a young college quarterback can have, but even guys like him weren’t able to escape the limelight. His girlfriend got a lot of press on one of the biggest stages in college football, and then received a lot of opportunities, and everyone soon became aware of her and her connection to McCarron. Webb will now be an even bigger part of McCarron's life as his fiance.
The question still remains whether that stuff affects a player's draft status.To any young football player, the best piece of advice is to be humble, respectful and to realize that the decisions you make and even the people closest to you in your life is can all be publicized, broadcasted and talked about whether you like it or not. When you sign up to try to be the best collegiate athlete you can be, these are some of the results you invite.
You may not avoid this scenario, but if you ever do get the chance to sit down with an NFL GM or team executive and answer a question about how much influence your significant other has or whether your lifestyle will clash with that team's commitment to you, you better be prepared to give them one simple answer....
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