Editor’s Note: Thank you for a fun first month of Athletes LTD. You’ve read about the Rose Bowl, Recruiting Trips, Big Time Games/Meets, and Senior Seasons. Thank you for reading and know that Athletes LTD has a lot in store for you. Combine Workouts, D-1 Recipes, and Inside Stories are just a few of the many topics that our athlete-writers will bring you. In celebration of the completion of our first month, Here’s a story about what the first day of the 2011 NFL Lockout was really like from someone who was there. Me.
The NFL Lockout
By Adam Juratovac
In 2010 I was the starter for the Arena Bowl XXIII Champion Spokane Shock and because of that, NFL teams took notice. I celebrated for three solid days because on the fourth day, I moved back into my college apartment and started to train for the next season’s NFL Mini-Camps. This year was going to be my year. In early September 2011, I signed with an NFL agent and a CFL agent. I was on my way. With their advice I continued to train for my University’s pro-day that was scheduled for March 12. My agents shopped me around during the NFL Combine and I had garnered some interest. I trained hard and with focus because I wanted to play in the NFL just to say that I’d competed at the highest possible level. Even if I got cut after the first pre-season game, I would be able to say I played in the NFL. That was my goal.
I practiced under the guidance of Olympic sprinters, the best coaches that money could buy, and trained at the nicest facilities to achieve my goal. March 12 came and I was prepared. I was prepared to bench press 225 pounds 30 times, run a 5.0 second forty, and have a vertical jump of 25 inches (give me a break, I weighed 309 pounds). I had prepared for countless hours, trained with a faculty of strength and speed coaches, and I had sacrificed a year of my life to prepare for this. Numerous NFL coaches and scouts were in attendance and I had my shirt off in line behind the other free agents getting ready to have my measurements taken. After they took my measurements we were ready to complete the substantive part of the workout and that is when one scout received a phone call. This phone call would change my life and the lives of many other NFL players. He was told that the NFL owners had locked out the players. The coaches were told that they were no longer allowed to evaluate free agents. When given the news, all of the free agents (there were five of us) left the facility heartbroken. We didn’t care about the Collective Bargaining Agreement, we didn’t care about the disputes, we didn’t care about the money, we just wanted to play in the National Football League.
We all went out separate ways. While walking away from the facility, I passed two of my good friends who came to support me, when I broke the news to them I knew they felt for me. They knew the hard work that I had put in to this moment and realized that due to no fault of my own, it was harshly taken away. I ended up going to the University’s recreation center and pumping out 29 reps of 225. I don’t know what my forty-yard-dash was going to be but I felt fast. At least I was when I went directly to: 1. the bar (Mingles, Moscow, ID), 2. Domino’s pizza, and 3. to get comforted by my friends. I received a call from my agent during the middle of a round of Cricket at Mingles and he did not have an answer for me. He told me there was a lockout, he didn’t know when it was going to end, and that he would try his best to figure things out for me. That was all. And that is when I signed to play back in the Arena Football League with the San Jose Sabercats. If I were in an NFL mini-camp I would not have played in the Arena Football League.
I was a reigning Arena Bowl Champion playing for my hometown team waiting for the lockout to end. I stayed NFL ready waiting for the phone call to sign a contract and compete for a spot in an NFL mini-camp; I wasn’t going to let that opportunity pass me by. The NFL Lockout ended on July 25, 2011, I blew out my right shoulder and tore tendons in my left hand ending my football career on June 4. People forget that playing football is a business where each player is a commodity and your body is your only asset. With each year that passes and every injury, surgery, and concussion that occurs your asset loses value while more players become available. But that's just business.