Fitness Goes Hand in Hand with Professionalism
There are stories out about Green Bay Packers second-year wide receiver DeAngelo Yancey. After watching the Packers draft three wide receivers, he knows he’s going to have tough competition for making the team’s roster.
According to packers.com, Yancey has lost about 15 pounds during the offseason, and he’s moving better and more quickly. Yancey, who attended last week’s minicamp aimed mostly at rookies, says: “Coming out here now, everything is a little slower for me.” Yancey spent his entire rookie season on the practice squad, but he signed a reserve/future contract with the Packers on January 2, 2018.
Yancey played for four years at Purdue, though his team won only nine games during that time. He recorded some good numbers, including a fine yards per catch rate of 18.9 in his senior year.
At a Pro Day event, his scores were generally average or a bit below, including his 4.53 40-yard dash time. He was measured at the time at 6’ 2” and 220 pounds.
Draft scouts were mostly unimpressed with him: slow into his routes, stiff in his breaks, lacking burst out of breaks, a stiff-hipped vertical receiver only, failed to catch 50 percent of his throws in any season. The forecast was that he’d be a seventh-round pick or signed as a free agent. The Packers thought otherwise.
Some Fitness Comparisons
Could it be that many of our college athletes are spoiled? Everyone was feeling either sorry or dismissive of Jeff Janis when he signed up with the Browns as a free agent. Hell, the guy stands to make $1.25 million – that’s nothing to sneeze at. Doesn’t it stand to reason that you put forth your best effort for that kind of cash – if not for the NFL it might take over 20 years to earn that much money.
I use Janis as an example because when he was drafted he was in as prime a condition as he could be. His weight hasn’t changed a pound in four years. Even coach Mike McCarthy termed him “an Olympian in the weight room.”
I recall McCarthy commenting, in either Jeff’s second or third training camp, that he looked more ripped that spring, though he looked as ripped as ever to me. Though he came out of Saginaw Valley State, he outperformed all the big school guys at the NFL Combine. That’s dedication, commitment, professionalism.
So here we have Yancey, a four-year player at Big-10 Purdue. Despite a horde of nutritionists, fitness experts, counselors, and trainers available to him, Yancey now seems to admit he came into the NFL with about 15 pounds of surplus weight. Five pounds extra is not a huge deal, but 15?
Yancey is far from the only player we’ve seen who either comes into the league at less than optimum condition, or decides a few years down the road that he needs to put his body in better shape. They’re making millions, and they can’t find an incentive to properly prepare themselves?
Just two or three years ago, Aaron Rodgers was saying this was the fittest he’s ever been coming into training camp. Call me demanding, but what that told me is that he was never previously at maximum physical condition.
Am I the only one who becomes more concerned with each passing year that Aaron’s offseason habit of awards show appearances, celebrity golf, wining and dining his girlfriend from coast to coast, and so on have to be limiting his ability to follow a strict training regimen? I don’t begrudge him going to the Kentucky Derby, but every week it’s one thing or another. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that the older Tom Brady gets, the more focused he becomes on his craft. I’m not sure that can be said of Rodgers.
As his extra-curricular schedule increases every year, his performance slides a bit. I remind you that Aaron hasn’t made first- or second-team All-Pro since 2014. This is a devoted fan’s concern, not an accusation, as I only get glimpses of his offseason life.
Too Little, Too Late?
But back to DeAngelo Yancey. Someday soon he might regret not wholeheartedly committing to his chosen occupation. Had he done so, maybe he would have gotten at least as much first-year experience as did Michael Clark, instead of being on the practice squad all season.
Unless you are star quality, you’ve got maybe two years to demonstrate you belong in the league. For his sake, I hope Yancey doesn’t look back and wish he’d have given the Packers his very best shot last year. What’s the saying: it’s too bad youth is wasted on the young.