What a funky time to be “umemployed”. As of this evening, I’ve set a personal record for the most time not being employed since I was in college. In 1996, it took me about a month after graduating to find a glorious $15,000 a year job proofreading legal documents. It was as glamorous as that sounds. Six months later, a friend hooked me up with a contract gig at IBM. I left my job to find out, after half a year, I had earned a tidy 3% raise. That was less than $10 a week before taxes.
It’s an appropriate time to talk about this as NFL teams are doing their annual housecleaning aka cutting any player who’s the slightest bit overpaid. A lot of those names are the high-paid free agents of yesteryear (hope there was a good signing bonus) and there are a few long-term players who are saying goodbye to their only NFL home. The Titans are saying good-bye to Bernard Pollard, a fiery locker room guy who tore his Achilles tendon, which is a tough injury to overcome at any age. The Texans let Andre Johnson go, a clear “if he only had a decent QB” first-ballot Hall of Famer. Johnson’s last game with the Texans, barring some contract jujitsu, was a 10-134-1 Week 17 finish against the Jaguars, a bit of a fantasy kick in the nuts. When your 1000-catch receiver finishes the year with more tackles (4) than touchdowns, yeah, get this man a gig with Tom Brady, stat.
For these NFL players, being potentially out of the league is a major life change. NFL rookies made $435,000 last year. A practice squad player made $6,300 a year which sounds nice but a player can get cut at any time with no severance. I find it interesting that Paul Brown invented the concept of the “taxi squad”, by giving “reserve” players who had tried out for a team fake jobs at team owner Mickey McBride’s taxi company.
Moments in time:
You feel OK as an unemployed individual when you get an interview, submit a resume, get a return email from a former manager/co-worker who has a lead, and sleep through the night without waking up in a sweaty panic. I have yet to do the latter.
It’s a binary game. Either I find a job or I don’t, and that success or failure is such a dramatic difference that it’s even bigger than the gulf between a rookie’s salary and that of a full-season practice squad dude. Yeah, I brought it back to football.
I am staying in shape. I did 100 miles on the elliptical in 15 days, although technically I traveled zero miles, either literally or if the elliptical had been moving (I do half my time backward and half moving forward).
My cat’s confused. He’s used to being on Alison’s desk all day as she has her own company/is finishing her Masters of English thesis (another gig that’s full of blarg). Now he goes back and forth and I’m worried that Chewie’s not getting his 20 hours of sleep a day.
I’m attempting to schedule as many lunches/evening gatherings as possible because I could just stay at home, wear the same pajama pants and not shower/shave for weeks otherwise. And I could be extraordinarily busy in such a state.
It’s true that this is an “opportunity” but it doesn’t feel like a “vacation”. I’m sure that when this odd season of my life passes, I’ll wonder if I didn’t get the most out of this time. We can play that game with any kind of life situation.
I’ll get back to posting football stuff tomorrow, with the exciting tale of the 2015 Zealots 34 dynasty free agent auction. How many of these guys will make my final 53?