Tony's Diary: So You Want To Play In The NFL?

Author: Tony "Touchdown" Simmons
   I dreamed an impossible dream. I remember like it was yesterday. I said, “Mama, I am going to play football on TV so you can be proud of me.” My mom said,” I am proud of you, you can do whatever you want if you put your mind to it.” Well, I guess that statement got the wheels rolling in my head.

Well my plan started in grade school and the playground, flag football and pick up games in the schoolyard. I played everyday in the schoolyard and evening was flag football practice. I did not play my first organized contact football game until I reached my freshman year in high school. I played and I remember the last game of the year as I was crossing the middle of the field on a dig route and the ball went high and I went after itBOOM. I flew into a helicopter. My helmet was twisted, ear pads were gone, shoulder pads were loosened and my head was ringing. I realized later that the free safety hit me as hard as he could and he was hurt as well.

I came down with the ball and was facing in the wrong direction before the catch. I got up and I remember walking to the wrong sideline and looking at the free safety laying on the field motionless. We both got up and wandered back to our benches. That was the day that football did not seem to important to me.

Tony Simmons
My sophomore year I played very sparsely and was going to quit my junior year and continue my track career which I was doing awesome. The Head Varsity Coach talked me back on the field and I was very leery about playing or basically in my mind getting head in such a way again. I did a drill over the summer that I did not want to but my coach said, it would help so I did and slant route after slant route into our starting linebacker did the job. One day after dropping about 15 passes I got tired of being hit and the next play I caught the slant route and hit our starting linebacker and ran him over. My coach was pleased and said again. I did it again and the linebacker got pissed and now the game was a part of me. It was not the passes I dropped or the catches I caught. It was the lesson of getting up again and repeating it over and over until I got the best result. I control who and what hits me and how hard I get hit. Thus begin my attitude in life as I failed in an area. I realized that I can do it just have to keep trying until I win at it. Perfect practice gets the result of perfect. I wanted to be the best.

Tony Simmons
Now, I was fortunate again to received a scholarship to a Division I college, the University of Wisconsin. I am a Badger for life and thus started my career as “Touchdown Tony” Simmons. I had a fabulous career in football and track in Wisconsin, I won multiple titles, championships made great friends, saw friends make it to the next level both professionally in track and football. We were the fortunate one. We beat the odds. So you want play in the NFL, huh? 

I was drafted in the 2nd round by the New England Patriots the 52nd pick overall. I was living a dream and I lived that dream for 5 season with the Patriots, Browns, Colts, Texans and Giants. I lived the dream of a little boy and beat the odds. But listen to the odds I beat is the most important.

According to the NCAA research, 8 out of 10,000 seniors playing high school football eventually make it to the NFL. That is a .0008% chance. That means that of the 300,000 seniors now playing high school football, only 240 of hem will eventually make the NFL. But if you work hard and are extremely good … they will find you.

Tony Simmons
0.5% chance of a male making it to the NFL. 1/3 of players invited to the combine aren’t drafted.

According to the U.S. National Weather Service, the odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 5,000. Read more:

Each of the 32 NFL teams has a 53-man roster that includes active and inactive players for a total of 1,696 players. Read more:

Tony Simmons is a pro athlete, model, motivational speaker and performance coach. 5 year NFL veteran, 3 year CFL veteran, and NFL Europe veteran. Inducted into St. Rita HS (Chi, IL) Hall of Fame. Now coaching and playing football in EU and India.