Football, the sport that made you a hero in high school. The sport that, in college, stepped up your "it" factor by a few dozen powers of ten and ended forever those days of getting yelled at by Mrs. Carter, your ninth-grade chemistry teacher who failed you for doing absolutely no work.
That full ride to State U. took care of all that and then some. Instead of chemistry tests, you got cars, apartments, rocks-for-jocks type class schedules, free booze, and sex. And suddenly there was also a whole new level of deification, a new aerie when it came to hero status. Now you were on TV, the nets, you were being feted, and there were lots of girls, too. You kind of had your pick. Plus, you were suddenly kind of important, kind of being taken seriously as a role model. Crap, you were being asked questions by the big guys at the Sports Center desk. Your academic job? Carry the ball, kick ass, take names.
So you graduated with a degree in, like, shagging, and off you went to the NFL, fully prepared to be a model American citizen with an impeccable moral code, thanks to locker room wisdom and the exhortations of various coaches. And they wanted the best for you, nothing more, nothing less. Their first priority, as titular, provisional “college professors,” after all, was to make sure you boys made fine young men, while also making them indispensable, by educating you in the arts and sciences of running, throwing, tackling, kicking ass and taking names.
And now that you're a pro, a college graduate with your degree in something — don't worry, we'll give it a name — you've got some serious cachet. If you're decent on the field, you’ll get an agent and start working the endorsement deals. And that means, guess what: money, more cars, better cars, and better friends because you bought them.
Plus, you can be the embodiment of the very best that America has to offer if you want. You can buy that, too: a sportsman, a player, glib at parties, affable in ads, and a style maven, and an icon for good guys everywhere. And if you don't have those personality attributes built in, especially the ones involving incorruptible nobility, don't worry, your handlers will whip one up for you. Along with the requisite zirconium-encrusted halo.
The only thing — and they'll probably tell you this as they're patting your back on the way to the elevator — your new "impeccable, dashing, cause-marketing infused, hospital visiting good-guy" personality isn't like a pair of contact lenses. You can't take them off once the documentary-style ad shoot is finished. You kind of have to wear the rig 24/7. Sorry, TMZ has deep pockets and every wall has a camera screwed to it.
Just stay on the right sidewalk and keep your pants on, catch balls, make tackles, do good interviews, and you can be a cash cow. You get money, the brands borrowing your smile get equity, the NFL gets you, and the more deals you sign, the better for you, them, mom and country. You are crazy money to the NFL and the last thing they need is for you to get caught on camera acting like someone who has been raised to do nothing but catch a ball, run with it, kick ass, take names and treat women like Maseratis on extended lease.
Oh, you’ll need to think about the fourth estate. No, not your fourth estate. I mean those self-appointed arbiters of good behavior and moral rectitude. When you are caught on video trying to manually rearrange your current girlfriend/wife's grill in an elevator, they will begin the long, Talmudic public arguments about when the NFL should have fired you, when they should have known about it, when they knew about it, who told them, what they knew, what you knew, what she knew, what your analyst knew, why she's still with you, and how your gastroenterologist somehow failed to miss all of this during your last colonoscopy.
And the NFL brass, gutless as they are, will wring their hands, listen to their collective hearts, and then do exactly what the press, the brands, the President, their lawyers and maybe their Gulfstream pilots tell them to do: they won't suspend you for two games, which is what they said they would do. No, they'll grab that Bible they've been using for years as a pedestal for their scale-model Bugatti (which looks just like the one in their garage), wait till the cameras are on, ceremoniously cite Romans 13:13 and fire your ass.
And here's what you should do: hire a lawyer, sue the NFL for firing you, your team for firing you, the university you went to for giving you a shit degree, your self-aggrandizing college coach, maybe TMZ, sue 'em all, except for Mrs. Carter, who yelled at you in ninth grade. She was perhaps the last person who tried to make a model American out of you.