Every player has a story — a dramatic arc — it’s the most compelling thing about sports. The ESPN series Hey Rookie, Welcome to the NFL focuses on the unique stories of big time 2017 NFL prospects with a chance at fame, glory and fortune. For every sure thing (and there is no sure thing), there is a Tom Brady lurking — drafted at the bottom and ready to rise. That’s the arc — it comes from the unpredictable future. What will become of players like James Conner out of Pittsburgh as he moves to the next level? Of all the players ESPN profiles for Hey Rookie, it’s Conner’s story that grabs the audience and shakes. No matter what happens in Conner’s NFL career, there’s a sense that he has already won.
While some of the other guys featured beat intricate defensive schemes in college, Conner beat cancer. Diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma, Conner recovered to be named First Team All-ACC after rushing for 1,092 yards on 216 carries, scoring 16 touchdowns. It’s not just Conner’s mind that’s strong and willful, it’s his running style too. (NFL: “a battering-ram style runner who makes the hitting a two-way affair.”) Conner’s Twitter has a one word description: undefeated. Hey Rookie, Welcome to the NFL airs Tuesdays at 9:30pm on ESPN.
Without struggle there is no progress.. pic.twitter.com/eKCd4XXaP4
— James Conner (@JamesConner_) February 26, 2017