Sir Charles says "I am not a role model" in this infamous Nike commercial from 1993.

Once you’re a professional athlete, you automatically become a role model, it comes with the territory.  Now you may not care about the kids looking up to you, and that’s fine, but I’m sure you care about money.  And if you’re being reckless with your behavior, your Tweets, or whatever the heck else the public can see, you’re killing your chances of earning all the money you can make during the already-short lifespan of being a professional football player.

Professional athletes as role models is a debate that will probably never end, much like the famous “who’s better–Biggie vs. 2Pac?” arguments that hip hop fans still debate to this day.  In my opinion, the professional athletes as role models debate can be summed-up pretty fast:

Most kids love to play, doing physical activities, which is why they are drawn to athletes to begin with.  Once they mature, most grow out of it.

That’s not going to change, so their idolizing of pro ball players isn’t going to change, either.

Back in the day, athletes and celebrities had PR people that could filter and do damage control before most information got to the media.

Back in the day, traditional media is all there was… TV, newspapers and magazines.  Those days are gone. News is reported instantly, and with the TMZ’s and Twitter’s, any and everyone is now part of the media.

Social media is a double-edged sword for pro athletes. You can build a positive and marketable image through it, overtime, or you can destroy your image, in one Tweet.

And the mistakes can be costly.

A few years ago, Buck Burnette, an Offensive lineman from the University of Texas, was kicked off the team for a racist joke he posted on his Facebook page.  Last year, Larry Johnson went on a rant on Twitter, dissing Twitter followers, and even called one guy a “fag.” Larry Johnson ended up suspended for one game (which costed him about $213,000), and the last I checked, he’s no longer in the league.

All football players want endorsements.  The hard truth of it all is that unless you’re a Quarterback or st

Tim Tebow seems to "get it," and has had to turn down some endorsements, because he's been offered so many.

ar Wide Receiver for a team in a big market, your chances are already slim of getting a decent endorsement to begin with, so why would you hurt those chances by Tweeting dumb stuff and doing dumb stuff at bars and clubs?

Once your 15 minutes of fame are gone, you can never get it back.  A lot of endorsement contracts have “moral clauses”, which give the company endorsing you the ability to tear-up the contract when you do something stupid. Tiger Woods lost millions due to “moral clause” violations. Michael Phelps, Alex Rodriguez, and Michael Vick all provide more examples of the wrath of the moral clause.

So if you’re a guy that hasn’t cared much about the “Professional athletes as role models” debate in the past, I hope that now you’ll think twice about your opinion. Image is everything when it comes to making money on and off the field.

The more of the story is simple: smarten up, and consider yourself warned.

If you are blessed with the opportunity to play pro ball, will you be one of the guys that “get it,” or will you be just another knucklehead?

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