LOS ANGELES -- Life is good for a rookie in the NFL. Especially right now.
We're less than a month removed from the 2013 NFL Draft, and the new-car smell still is present. Many players haven't signed contracts yet, but the paycheck that comes with attaining a lifelong dream is promised. Wealth and an NFL career all are right there. It's like Christmas Eve on high levels of HGH.
That giddy sense of anticipation is palpable when you share a room with these guys. On Thursday, Around The League tagged along with some other NFL Media folk at downtown L.A.'s Sunrise Elementary School to check out "Rookie Premiere," an NFLPA event that promotes active lifestyles.
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It's neat catching these guys in a collective sweet spot in their lives. You're not getting any quotes about being unhappy with teammates, coaches, playing time or contracts. Everything is ... cool. It won't always be that way, but it is right now.
Here are seven takeaways from the event:
1)Geno Smith may or may not be the answer for the New York Jets at quarterback, but he seems to get it. This is the second time I've spoken to him in the past month, and both times he was engaged and provided thoughtful responses. Contrary to anonymous sources, Smith hardly seems aloof. Does that make him loof? Geno Smith is fully loof.
"We gotta see," Smith replied before catching himself. "I do, I do believe we do. We've got a great bunch of guys. We've got Santonio (Holmes) coming off injury, (Jeff) Cumberland, who's a really good tight end. Stephen (Hill)'s in his second year, he's ready to blossom. Defense has always been strong, so it's about me being a good quarterback."
3)Cincinnati Bengals first-round pick Tyler Eifert is an athletic-looking human being. I know he was well-documented as the top tight end of his draft class, but I still see people sleeping on him ... he's an early Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate. Does Eifert believe he can make an instant statistical impact?
"I think so, yes," he replied, looking down at my anatomically inferior build. "I think my ability to pick up the offense, and especially with what the league is transforming to with the two tight ends. I'm in a good spot."
He ain't wrong.
"I expect to compete and I'd like to get a lot of playing time," he said. "It will work itself out, especially in the preseason. I'm just going to compete, I'm not making any guarantees."
When Wilson inevitably beats out Matt Flynn for the starting job, how can we -- as people -- reach out to Flynn for emotional support? His career deserved to be more than being constantly passed over for mid-round draft picks. Getting Flynn'd all the damn time is no way to go through life.
"It's definitely been different," he said with a smile. "I think I've seen the sun one time in five days, but it's definitely a blessing to play this great game of football."
I love the idea of Green Bay randomly taking on the meteorological patterns of London just to mess with Johnny Franklin.
"After watching J.T. for awhile I can see why they try to resemble us because of our body size and the way we're built," he said. "For me, I just want to make my own name. It's good to be compared to somebody of his caliber -- he's done a lot for that organization -- but me, I'm Dion, and I'm looking forward to carving out my own path."
(Note: That's me walking behind Jordan and Beisner at the 47-second mark of this video. This will be pertinent if I ever get framed for murder in the early afternoon hours of May 16, 2013. "I'd now like to bring the jury's attention to this video from NFL.com ..." INNOCENT.)
"We're rooming, we quiz each other before we go to sleep," he said (cue the "Awwwwwwww" sound clip). "I'm quite sure we'll get our own places eventually."
Bailey then interjected: "More like a Stedman Bailey and a Tavon Austin."
Yes, optimism is plentiful for young men in one of life's sweet spots.