To inform those who break out in hives whenever they come within a mile of televised sports, pro football is big business. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has predicted that league revenues will reach $25 billion by the year 2027. Team owners are willing to drop a small fortune figuring out how to assemble a stable full of winners. But it's not just the people in the business who care about this. Every year, hordes of fantasy football geeks will spend countless hours trying to predict the NFL studs of the season, turning it into a $70 billion market. From wannabe Draft Kings insta-millionaires to those just looking for office bragging rights, everyone is vying for the secrets to success.
But predicting how an athlete will perform in the NFL is a crapshoot. Or is it? It turns out there are a few things that better a player's odds when it comes to success in the NFL.
6Don't Get Drafted Early
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The NFL draft is the most popular way to acquire fresh meat for the grinder (otherwise known as eligible college players). Teams make selections in reverse order according to how horribly they performed the previous season, so ideally, it's an opportunity for subpar organizations to shore up their roster so that they're able to spend the next year doing more winning and less "inspiring."
Maintaining the thoroughness of a forensic investigation, each team analyzes scouting reports, Combine performances, and Wonderlic scores in the hopes of determining the very best talent available. With seven draft rounds and each team selecting a player only once every 32 slots, it would make sense* that the best of the best will get snapped up in the first two rounds. Then, you know, go on to kill it in the NFL and make awkward cameos in comedy films.
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*Sense not applicable to the New York (Jets), Cleveland, or Washington franchises.
But that's not how it always works. Thanks to backroom trade machinations and perhaps too much emphasis placed on the Wonderlic and Combine, the best players aren't always drafted first. A recent study analyzing offensive skill positions (quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers) found that running backs and wide receivers drafted later were actually a better choice than their picked-first counterparts. According to the research, 60 percent of running backs and wide receivers picked up in the third through seventh rounds amassed greater average career statistics than those snapped up in first and second rounds. If this all sounds like gibberish, it's kind of like how one of Magneto's first-round draft picks for his Brotherhood was Toad, who in 1964 had the powers of hopping and getting captured. He'd later draft Blob, who in 1964 had the power of "Literally none of your punches hurt me."
However, the same study found that quarterbacks selected early appeared to be better picks than their lower-level brethren. But we live in a world of terrifying chaos, as even then, they don't always get it right. For anecdotal evidence, consider the 199th sixth-round pick from the 2000 draft. With six quarterbacks picked up before him, conventional wisdom would say that this lowly draftee didn't have much of a shot. But he'd go on to become Football Moses, helping the Patriots to part oceans of Super Bowl contenders.
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5Be Super Hot (Especially If You're A Quarterback)
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That million-dollar smile, a jawline carved of granite, and the body of a Greek god. In addition to passing and running plays, we expect our quarterbacks to appear as if they just got done lecturing their GQ cover photographer about maintaining perfectly-trimmed hair between crunches. And for the most part, they do.
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The exception which proves the rule.
But is there a link between superior athleticism and looking like the "Eureka!" moment of combining The Rock and Ryan Gosling's DNA? Unfortunately for all the average-looking Joes out there, the studly quarterback may be more than a tired cliche. Scientists in the UK have found a positive correlation between looks and athletic performance. Give us back our lunch money, science.
In the study, a group of women were shown images of quarterbacks, and were asked to rate them on an attractiveness scale from 1 to 10. The women participating in the study were European, so presumably they wouldn't know an Aaron Rodgers from a Ben Roethlisberger, and no "In New York he's a 4, but in Cleveland he's a 7" hometown bias would come into play. After comparing those "hot or not" numbers with the quarterback's on-field stats, a connection between pass completions and dreamboat status was established.
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"I'll send you the number for my 'perfect stubble' guy. Increased my yards per attempt by two."
And that's not the only benefit of being a gridiron Adonis. According to a New York Times report, better-looking QBs make more bank than their less fetching counterparts. Using "symmetry of the face" as the benchmark for hotness, it was positively correlated with a quarterback's salary. Specifically, an increase of one standard deviation in facial symmetry led to a nearly 8 percent increase in pay. So seriously, try to be super hot. And if that fails, start banning math from schools. I think we would all feel pretty great right now if it wasn't for numbers.