Posted by Adam Jacobi
Last week, Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden and wideout Justin Blackmon delighted Cowboy fans by declaring that each would return for their senior seasons at OSU. Blackmon was widely considered one of the top wide receivers in the draft if he declared, while Weeden will turn 28 years old in the middle of the 2011 season and would therefore presumably need to maximize his availability to the NFL.
Thing of it is, though, Weeden only has one year of NCAA experience as a starter, and there isn't exactly a market for a 28-year-old, one-year collegiate starter (Weeden was a prospect in the Yankees and Dodgers organizations, but that obviously didn't pan out). NFL teams are increasingly aware that starting experience is a helpful -- if not watertight -- determinant in whether a quarterback will succeed at the next level, after all, so trading one year of NFL salary for one year of continued collegiate experience could very well work in Weeden's favor.
Moreover, Weeden doesn't exist in a football-centric vacuum, and he is an actual person with more of a future to consider than "potential NFL quarterback." Weird to consider, yes, but such is life. To that end, Weeden made a decision that will draw the envy of millions of middle-aged men by walking on to the Oklahoma State golf team. Here's what team coach Mike McGraw told The Oklahoman earlier:
“He's going to walk on for us,” McGraw said in a phone interview. “He's a great leader, he loves golf and he's a great Cowboy.”
McGraw said that Weeden would be required to practice and compete just like scholarship golfers, but when it's time for spring football practice, Weeden would be on the football field.
“We had to clear everything with Coach (Mike) Gundy, so when it's time for football practice, he'll be there,” McGraw said.
Weeden regularly plays golf with Kevin Tway and other OSU golfers. McGraw said Tway and the other golfers already have delivered scouting reports on Weeden's game.
“They like his game,” McGraw said. “Now am I saying he's going to lead us to a national championship? Probably not.”
Weeden's decision is enviable for any number of reasons. His off-season practice and film time will time-intensive, as befits a starting quarterback, but unless head coach Mike Gundy is clinically insane, that practice time will also be light on contact. Weeden's spare time, then, will be spent on his senior year of school work and on golf. So then: playing football without getting hit, finishing a degree, and playing golf? If that's not the best way to fully occupy one's self as a 27-year-old, we can't think of what else might be.
Moreover, playing golf is a legitimate business skill, so in its own weird, indirect way, Weeden's decision to play golf instead of go to the NFL is probably going to be a better long-term decision. Weeden's NFL career is going to be short and light on snaps no matter what -- his minor-league baseball career ensured that -- so he may as well get his degree in business management and get his golf game as right as possible ASAP. These skills, not throwing a football, are going to help him earn money for the rest of his life; that he gets to throw a football to guys like Blackmon and Josh Cooper for one more year in exchange for that degree and that year with the golf team seems like an outstanding compromise. This, clearly, is the value of long-term thinking.