NFL Teams Use Background Checks to Help Draft College Football Players as New Employees

It is not uncommon for employers these days to use pre-employment background checks to help them hire new employees. Recent surveys from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) revealed approximately 75% of employers ( three out of four) used background checks during their pre-employment screening of job applicants.

But what if the employer happens to be a professional franchise in the National Football League (NFL) and the job applicants are college football players? Along with statistics like touchdowns and tackles on the field, do NFL teams really care what football players do off the field?

Apparently they do “ a lot “ according to the New York Times NFL blog Fifth Down, which recently quoted a column from detailing the lack of privacy NFL draft prospects face, online and off, in today’s Internet-fueled, 24/7 sports world.

Every detail of a prospect’s background is researched by teams and publicized by the media. The scrutiny goes beyond touchdowns and dropped passes, it continues to arrests, scandals, and brief, long-ago suspensions for “undisclosed team violations. If a player was involved in some non-noteworthy taproom scuffle, we know about it.

For NFL teams, selecting a player in the annual draft is the main process used to hire new employees. Like any prudent employer hoping to avoid wasting time and money on unfit workers, they look at the past experience qualifications or prospective employees, and perform background checks to ensure that they are making an informed hiring decision.

With millions of dollars on the line,  the first overall selection in the 2010 draft, Sam Bradford of the St. Louis Rams, is projected to get $50 million in guaranteed money. NFL teams, like any prudent employer, use background checks before selecting future employees  in this case, college football players who hope to become professionals.

How prevalent have background checks become in helping NFL teams to decide what players to pick? Two sample Draft Profile on the website show just how important:

  • (NFL Draft Prospect A) will need a pretty in-depth background check by any team considering drafting him. He has had off the field issues at both the University of Virginia as well as at Marshall…
  • (NFL Draft Prospect B) is a transfer from Florida who has struggled on and off the field because of injuries and conduct. He will require a strong background check by any team interested in gambling on his physical talent…

NFL teams conducting background checks on college football players is nothing new. A 2003 Los Angeles Times article reported that a former private investigator working for one team had done interviews and background checks on over 400 NFL draft prospects, while several other teams relied on former police officers and even a former director of the U.S. Secret Service to perform similar background checks. Other teams used background check reports that the NFL had compiled on prospects attending the leagues’ pre-draft combine.

Whether the employer is a pro football team or a small business, or the employee is a future gridiron all-star or a potential C-level executive, background checks help to ensure a safe work environment and to avoid the costs in both time and money  of a bad hires.

For more information about background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR), a national pre-employment screening provider, at