By: Jordan Ross
On April 28, 2016, 253 men had their names called and became members of an NFL team in the 2016 NFL Draft. It’s an exciting moment for eligible players, NFL teams, and fans of the sport all across the world. You may ask, “What does any of this have to do with public relations?” The answer to that question is quite a bit actually.
Before a team actually submits their pick in the draft, there is a great deal of research that every organization does on each player that they are interested in. Of course, talent is one of the major factors that all teams are looking for in a player. At the end of the day, the NFL is a way for teams to improve their talent pool in order to win more games. However, talent is not the only factor that organizations consider when they evaluate potential players they may want to draft.
The character of each player is also evaluated and can be just as important as the talent level each player has. When a team drafts a player, they become part of the entire team. This means the player must be able to work with everyone in the organization, and even if he is the most talented player in the word, it can all go to waste if he is unable to work well with others.
A player’s character is important in the evaluation process as well because once a player is drafted, they become a representative of that franchise. This is where the public relations aspect of the entire process comes into play. Once a player’s name is called and drafted to a team, their name will then be associated with that given franchise for at least the foreseeable future, if not forever. That applies to whatever the player does both on and off of the field. Franchises want to draft the most talented player available when their pick comes around, but they also want to draft a player who will be a good representative of their franchise.
Drafting a player with lots of talent, but with a character issue, could pay off for a team, but it could also turn into a PR disaster if those issues are not addressed or completely ignored. Even if a player makes a mistake in their personal life, what they did will automatically be associated with the team they play for.
The NFL Draft can be a crapshoot, both in terms of whether the talent of each player can live up to the expectations, or if their character is what a team thought it was. In school, you can study day and night, but still do poorly when it comes time to actually take the test. The same applies when teams do their homework on players they are thinking about drafting. A player could be the ideal player before they are drafted, and then turn out to have character issues, which leads to bad press for the entire team.
The fact of the matter is that on this night, nobody knows exactly what the future holds. The future of all 32 franchises can be determined by the decisions that will be made over the course of this three-day process. That applies to the future of each team both on and off of the field.
Jordan Ross is a senior at Eastern Michigan University majoring in public relations and minoring in communications. Jordan is in his first semester serving as the Vice President of Professional Development for EMU’s Eleanor Wright chapter of PRSSA. Jordan is also a member of EMU’s Honors College and serves as the President of the EMU Student Center Student Employee Advisory Committee. You can find Jordan on Twitter @__JordanRoss.