'It's A Grind': An NFL Player's Struggle For Survival

Play associated audio

Ross Ventrone has been hired, promoted, or fired by the New England Patriots no fewer than 29 times in two years. The transition the defensive back from Villanova made into the world of professional football has been different from what most people would assume, he tells Guy Raz, host of weekends of All Things Considered.

"For guys like me, it's a grind," Ventrone says. "I'm fighting every day for my job, and you never know what's going to happen."

Add to that the pressure players face to keep their bodies in perfect condition despite painful blows during practices and games.

"You're always an injury away from never playing again," Ventrone says.

Ventrone was cut after training camp. Three days later, he was re-signed. A couple weeks after that, he was cut again. On and on and on, just like that, for the past two years. A new NFL season begins Sept. 5, but unfortunately Ventrone has been cut again.

It comes down to numbers: NFL teams are allowed a maximum of 53 players, and Ventrone always comes in either #53 or #54. He has been able to make a decent living so far, but work is unpredictable.

"The money is good whenever it's coming in," he says, "its just a matter of how long its going to be coming in for."

Ventrone earns the NFL's minimum rookie salary, but only gets paid for the weeks he is on a the roster.

Ventrone is confident he will be back on the field this season as higher-ranking players are bound to suffer injuries.

"I don't wish it upon anybody, but it's a fact that guys are going to be getting hurt," he says.

It's that attitude that probably elevated him to play professional ball in the first place.

"I think there will be an opportunity," he says. "I just have to seize it."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Robert Irwin Brings 'Big' To Texas With Permanent Art Installation

The 87-year-old conceptual artist unveils a large-scale installation of his work in Marfa, Texas, this week. He's spent his career creating site-specific art that often treats light as its subject.
NPR

Scraped, Splattered — But Silent No More. Finally, The Dinner Plate Gets Its Say

Instagram is the Internet's semi-obsessive, borderline-creepy love letter to food. But behind every great meal is a plate doing a pretty-OK job. So a comedian made an Instagram to celebrate plates.
NPR

WATCH: Tim Kaine Makes Campaign Trail Debut: 'I Like To Fight For Right'

"Do you want a 'you're fired' president or a 'you're hired' president?" Kaine asked the crowd in Miami.
NPR

Making The Cloud Green: Tech Firms Push For Renewable Energy Sources

Few people can demand what kind of electricity they get. But Microsoft and Facebook, which operate huge, power-hungry data centers, are trying to green up the electricity grid with their buying power.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.