While reading Greg Gabriel’s Why Do Highly Regarded Players Become Busts? from The National Football Post, a few things struck me

Ryan Mallett of the New England Patriots (ICON Sports)

as information that would be “good to know” for guys that dream of playing on Sundays.

I say that, because, in Gabriel’s opinion, the main thing that causes guys to end up draft busts, is football character.

And if you’re a legitimate NFL prospect, you will be graded on your football character by NFL teams.

So, knowing that, the obvious next question is, “what do NFL teams look for, when it comes to football character?”

Let’s talk about that real quick.

Oh, before we do, I have to recommend that you read Gabriel’s article on your own, in case I overlooked something. I’m just going to be sharing with you the lessons I personally think are important for you to know.

Lesson #1: There’s a BIG Difference Between Personal and Football Character


As I mentioned before, character, at least with NFL scouts, is broken down into two subcategories:

1) personal character, and

2) football character.

Gabriel does a great job of explaining the difference between the two:

Personal character is basically how a person lives his life. Is he a good person and citizen? Is he a good father, husband and teammate? Football character is a player’s passion for the game, his work ethic, his desire to be a great player, his intelligence as it relates to his position, his ability to take to coaching.

Lesson #2: Assess Your OWN Football Character


Yes, NFL scouts are going to grade you on your football character, but you should be assessing your own football character, for two reasons:

1) So you can increase the likelihood that scouts will like what they find out about your football character.

2) To make sure that playing in the NFL is something you really wanna do.

I’ll explain.

Playing in the NFL is a grind. It may look like fun, but it’s grueling, too.

Ask yourself:

“How’s my work ethic when it comes to football?”

“Do I really care about being a great football player?”

“How do I respond to coaching?  Can I take coaching, or do I prefer to do my own thing?”

I’m not trying to tell you what to do, but if you don’t really love the game, and you don’t have a burning desire to be a great football player, you might not want to waste your time pursuing a pro career.

Don’t believe me?

Well, with over 30 years around the NFL game, at least take Gabriel’s word on this one:

Football is a very tough game and if you don’t love to play it, you won’t be very good. There are many players who will get by for a couple of years on their pure talent, but in the end their lack of passion and football character will do them in. You can’t play for the money — the game is too hard and competitive to do that. Coaches will see right through that and the player will be cut or traded.

Lesson #3: You Need Both, But Football Character Will Take You Farther


You can be a “good boy”, with a squeeky clean off-the-field image, but if you’re lacking in the football character department, you’re no good to an NFL team, at least not for long.

Gabriel explained it simply:

A player with strong football character and marginal personal character has a chance to succeed at the NFL level because his football character will help him overcome his personal issues. On the other hand, if a player has weak football and personal character, he has no chance. The same can be said for the opposite. A kid with strong personal character and low football character won’t survive, either. He won’t have the drive or mental toughness to compete with those who do.

Keep in mind, though, that different teams have different philosophies, when it comes to what they will and won’t tolerate from a football and personal character standpoint.

Nevertheless, these little tidbits of information could very well give you the edge over the competition for that NFL roster spot you dream of.

Good luck.

What are your opinions on character? Is it overrated, or are NFL teams justified in screening candidates based on character?

Follow me on Twitter! @alvingrier 

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