Troy Vincent

The Game That Gives

Humanitarian and executive vice president of NFL operations, Mr. Vincent brings his expertise, values, passion, and character to meet the challenge of reinventing, reeducating, and reestablishing the meaning of American football.

Monarch magazine: One aspect of your responsibility will be addressing college relationships. If possible, could you please provide a snapshot of what this actually means?

Troy Vincent: Yeah, so our college, when we actually talk about our college relationship as it pertains to football operation, we are the liaison with the college football coaches, the college football programs, frankly in the area of life skills. In the area of, as we would say, eligibility, we look at our college advisory committee, we advise the student athlete and coaching staffs on whether a particular prospect should either stay in school, first-round grade, second-round grade, but we work with the institutions mainly on the value of education, the importance of their college-education experience, relationships, and frankly the process. So most of the time, most college institutions, when we come in our role is to be a connector of our process. You know all, at every institution, those 113 athletes each are dreaming about the National Football League, the expectations, and what is the process. So when we have that opportunity to come in, not just provide information on what qualifies someone to be eligible as a prospect but frankly this is where we can inject principles of life, time management, things to expect and really maximizing, reminding them to maximize their student-athlete experience while at their institution.

Monarch magazine: How does this play into offering students early draft opportunities?

Troy Vincent: So that goes back to our college advisory committee, which is made up of all 32 clubs and has the general manager or director of college scouting that participates on the evaluation. We as the National Football League don’t make a decision but we want a kid to make an informed decision. We want the student athlete to make an informed decision because an underclassman declaring…it’s one of the biggest and most important decisions of his life and its important that they are informed. Look at the data. What do the clubs say? Don’t read about something in a magazine and then just say I’m leaving school. You didn’t finish your degree. You still have some development as a student athlete…physically, mentally. So that’s what our college advisory committee, those guidelines are there to inform the student, coach, and his parents about how to make informed decision.

Monarch magazine: Yes, I’ve read about how students think they are doing themselves a favor and just up and quit school.

Troy Vincent: And again, you are about to make a decision. You’re gonna quit school. Make an informed decision. Don’t leave school, you didn’t finish your education and you’re dreaming and you don’t have realistic expectations. You leave school and you don’t continue the relationships to go back to school to finish up, you don’t get drafted, now you have left an institution, you didn’t finish your undergraduate degree. You chased a dream, the dream doesn’t happen; where does that leave you? It’s back to the value of education and we can’t emphasize that enough.

Monarch magazine: The current atmosphere surrounding football seems bleak, with divisions amongst team owners, coaches, and players, to issues about concussions. What exactly is the future of the NFL?

Troy Vincent: We would hope to say what we’ve learned from where there’s the health and safety a primary responsibility and goal is to have the safest, most competitive game. Not just professionally but at every level…the amateur level, college, high school, and youth. So when we look at the future, our commitment of doing everything that we can to protect our players from unnecessary risk and to improve daily game safety at all levels of the game. So there’s an ongoing unwavering commitment to do everything that we can to protect our players from unnecessary risk and safety at all levels of the game. When I think about that, it’s things like changing the way we teach the game. Implementing significant new medical protocols. Changing health and safety game-related rules and trying to at the youth and high-school level. Frankly fostering a culture of change and encouraging everyone from coaches, to players, to owners to prioritize health and safety. Those are the things that we have to do everything that we can to ensure parents, ensure coaches, and the fans that we have an unwavering commitment to do everything we can to protect players from unnecessary risk.

Monarch magazine: What do you see different in the players from your period to today?

Troy Vincent: The difference from what I see…now you’re making me call out my age…as I would say, the dinosaur, I have two young athletes that are student athletes today, one in college, one in high school. The differences that I see today…one is the amount of options the athletes have to do what they want to do, where they’re going to participate. From an athletic and skill set perspective, I see a much more athletic athlete. When you look at sports science, the way they are introducing individual specialized sports, the athlete today is much more advanced physically. But what you can’t see and research from a skill standpoint, they lack the skill development because so much emphasis and, frankly, when people aren’t teaching the actual skill set of a position of the game, many athletes now come through the system based off of pure athletic ability so you see a tremendous, as we would say, God’s gift. The athleticism, that God’s gift to the athlete, you can’t teach athleticism, you can’t teach speed. God either gave it to you or he didn’t give you the part. What we are seeing that is undeveloped is the skill development that is required to sustain your at the highest level.

Monarch magazine: How do you feel this affects the athletes considering their careers today? Do you consider athletes smarter regarding their careers?

Troy Vincent: I would begin with work in progress. I always start with myself personally. What I knew and what I was taught as a player in the early eighties until I finished in 2007, what I’ve learned from research is what science has taught us that there’s a different way and that begins with my kids. That begins with both telling Troy Jr. and Taron, my children, the way I did it or the way my generation and what we know today there’s a different way to still be competitive, to still show the passion but there were things that I wasn’t correct about, the things that today doesn’t exist in our game. They’re techniques that we’ve almost eliminated out of our game that had been used widely when I played. The use of the helmet as a weapon, some of the things that we’ve made adjustments to on the health and safety side of things that were allowed in my era that have been taken out of the game for the very reason of safety for the athlete. It’s a much different culture because now that we know better, we can do better.

Monarch magazine: I understand if you do not want to dive deep into this but how do you personally feel about the stance of Colin Kaepernick?

Troy Vincent: To sum it up, I think that the issues that Colin raised, we’ve kind of announced, it’s been over the headlines, the partnership between the players, owners, and league office about the issues that Colin was actually protesting about. So we look at our partnership that’s calling out things of how do we provide resources and amplify work around justice reform, law enforcement, and community engagement, and just local community education those were things that many of our players along with Colin were protesting about. Its not the ultimate solution but as an organization, this is our commitment level and our partnership with the players to address some of these issues that are concerning to make better communities.