Just like many other recent college graduate Charles Clay has no idea what the future holds in this struggling economy. But he does notice the bills stacking up.
The loans have an astronomical interest rate. The rent, phone bill, car note and insurance are due and the bank account is on life support.
Good thing Clay, the University of Tulsa fullback the Miami Dolphins selected in the sixth round of last April's NFL Draft, found work. Unfortunately, it's not in his chosen field.
To stay afloat during the NFL's lockout, which has entered its third month, Clay's been receiving day labor type work with a company called LPD, which has him cutting grass at oil wells and doing odd jobs like cleaning the jacks to make ends meet.
“Not getting an income right now is tough, especially when I'm trying to have a facility to work out in, and have to pay for things like (trainers),” said Clay, whom the Dolphins envision as an H-back that creates matchup problems for linebackers.
“It's tough, but at the same time you've got to get by somehow,” he said. “I'm pretty sure there are other guys doing the same thing. Nobody is getting any kind of income. You have to get money some kind of way.”
Hundreds of rookies, and even some players who were on the bottom half of NFL rosters in recent years, are in a similar position. Many are living on loans from their agents, or the bank. Most are paying their medical and professional insurance on their own, or doing without.
The waiting game is what we're all playing during the NFL's work stoppage, which is caused by a weakened economy, and overall greed. Most believe the NBA's headed for the same fate in the coming weeks.
With the unemployment rate rising last month in 13 states during this recession it's hard to shed a tear for professional athletes, especially those who make more in one game check than some families receive in a year. Still, many are indeed struggling as a result of the lockout.
“I just want to get there. When I get there is when I'll feel like an NFL player,” said Clay, who scored 28 touchdowns during his college career. “Technically I just feel like a student who graduated.”
Clay is a promising employee simply looking for work in his field — it just happens to be a football field.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service