By Doug Farrar
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From Night Train Lane to Kurt Warner(notes), the NFL has been graced with the talents of many undrafted players who went on to Hall of Fame careers. Often, the snubs are used by the players to drive them to greatness, and the resulting successes are often used as inspirational “anything can happen if you work hard enough” fodder for people in every walk of life. Odds are that of the 2010 undrafted class, a handful of players will go on to make significant differences for their teams and for the league.
Here’s one thing we know: Scott Sicko will not be one of them. Sicko, a former New Hampshire tight end, made his position clear — if he was not drafted, he would not play professional football. This despite definite interest from several teams, including the New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Dallas Cowboys, after the draft ended.
“Some people will think I’m absolutely out of my mind, and I understand it,” Sicko told Mark McGuire of the Albany Times Union on Saturday night. “I completely see where they’re coming from. … If I were to be drafted I would have had more confidence of a much longer career in the NFL. I have to look at my life and decide what will make me the happiest. And the thing that will make me the happiest now and in the long run is to pursue my education.”
The decision to pursue one’s education in place of a pro football career is an understandable (and commendable) one. But that doesn’t seem to be at the heart of Sicko’s decision — it appears to be more about the prestige of having a draft pick attached to one’s name. And that’s where the decision seems odd. If Sicko had legitimate NFL potential — and judging from the way the Cowboys were pursuing him (basically telling him that he’d likely have a roster spot), it seems he did – why should it matter? Do we really think that the guys drafted in the last 10 spots of the seventh round are feeling that much better than the players who were signed as undrafted free agents soon after? Is Sicko upset because he won’t get a big to-do like Tim Toone, the 2010 Mr. Irrelevant, will?
There are advantages to the UDFA process — some players actually prefer to go undrafted if they’re not picked up by, say, the late sixth round because they have more choices. If Sicko had been drafted by a team very deep at his position, he may never have received a chance. This way, he could pick and choose the best situation for himself. But now, that will never happen.
Sicko intends to go after a post-graduate degree in history, but one history lesson might do him some good before he closes the book on a potential NFL future. There’s a long list of people who have transcended the status he feels he’s above, and that’s worth considering. He is a big (6-4, 251 pounds) tight end with good speed and productivity at the Colonial Athletic Association level. Why not give the NFL a try, even if it isn’t on his terms?