“Football is a game of studs, and if you want to win you better have some” – Bear Bryant
So what do we know to this point? There’s a whole generation of professional athlete sitting at the average age of players in the NFL whose entire fabric has been built around values of achieve now, pay me now, no time to wait. This generation of player has taken over the League at a critical time period in team and player relations. To ignore the ideas and viewpoints of this group would be ignorant of the very fact that they do indeed exist, as the private sector and military have been wrestling with the changes they have brought upon the workplace the past ten years.
Though highly talented and highly educated their overall interpretation and definition of work ethic is decidedly different from the preceding two generations of players. They have high expectations of themselves and their employers, and want a great deal of rewards and recognition NOW. “Waiting your turn” and “Paying your dues” doesn’t fly with this group. Trying to force a “square peg (player) into a round hole (inflexible Club)” is not going to work either.
Guess what? The player pool is shrinking. National Football Scouting, Inc (one of the two major scouting services used in the NFL) reported 150 less players in the spring of 2009 for Clubs to focus on in preparation for the 2010 draft. Draft boards continue to shrink as Clubs and administrators become more and more stringent upon “character” and other requirements necessary to make their rosters.
I’ve frequently heard over the past few years a number of GM’s and Personnel Exec’s lament over the lack of viable options to choose from (even in the first two rounds!). With 32 teams in the League, talks of expansion from time to time and an expanded season on the horizon, the extreme need for talent might be at an all time high. The influence of the values of the “Me’s” is not going to disappear and will only continue to grow within our game as this generation of player takes firm hold of the talent pool.
There are issues related to the “Millennial” generation that naturally flow to the career of an NFL player and must be addressed by a new type of leadership at the Club level. An inability to do so will not without consequence affect the relationship between the Club and its players. “What are those issues?” – Development, Feedback, Parental Influence, Compensation and Retention.
One and or all are interrelated to each other and the lack of a Club’s ability to communicate and deal with these “Me” issues will most assuredly have a profound effect on the player’s ultimate success or failure with the Club. People are people and will react accordingly to their environment. Club’s that realize their responsibility to enhance their assets (players from a limited talent pool) through advanced leadership perspectives and techniques will reach peak performance levels and reap the benefits of their efforts.
Who hasn’t had their own problems communicating with their GEN Y kids or employees?