I expect that it’s safe to say the majority of people who follow the NFL also have a favorite NFL team. That includes NFL players, at least while they were growing up. It’s not particularly uncommon to hear about a player who happens to be drafted by the team that he rooted for, or that his family rooted for. The Pittsburgh Steelers have had several such cases, like Kevin Dotson and B.J. Finney.
Sometimes, though, you get a player whose family supports a rival. The Baltimore Ravens drafted Ben Powers, a guard who grew up a Steelers fan. The Steelers drafted Justin Layne, whose father was a diehard Cleveland Browns fan before Pittsburgh drafted him.
Now it’s the family of sixth-round linebacker Quincy Roche who is the target of the next project. A Maryland native, he grew up in a family wearing the black and purple of the Ravens, so he has his work cut out for him. The Steelers are attempting to do their part, though.
“They sent me a box of Terrible Towels, so I passed it around to everybody”, he told reporters yesterday after rookie minicamp practice when he asked about his Ravens fan family. “Everybody in my house has got one now. I told them, one step at a time. We’ll get ‘em converted”.
Family is bigger than football, of course, and it shouldn’t take too much convincing for a family to root for the team that their relative plays for, assuming that they’re treating him fairly and he’s getting an opportunity — and bringing in a substantial amount of money to the family, which can be life-changing.
It does raise the question, though, of what goes on in the mind of a player drafted by a team he’s supposed to hate based on his fandom affiliation. But it’s a business, of course. And it’s advisable that you separate yourself from fandom at the earliest point in time, because you’re looking at 32 different potential employers when you declare for the draft.
Sometimes you get to have your pick, assuming that your team wants you, which is what Finney got to experience when he was a college free agent, opting to sign with the Steelers over offers from other teams. And when you’re a veteran free agent, you have your pick again.
Roche’s immediate priorities, though, consist of learning the playbook, his teammates, and his coaches, and working on his run defense. Not to mention just figuring out how to be a full-fledged, independent adult who is responsible for his own life. And a team drafting you always helps make you like them, anyway.