Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Rodney Paul, Professor
Michael Veley, Director & Chair
Sport and Human Dynamics
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
The inspiration for this examination of NFL football players came from a September 17, 2010 CBS Television program 60 Minutes report “American Samoa: Football Island” by Scott Pelley. Pelley determined “that a boy born to Samoan parents is 56 times more likely to get into the NFL than any other kid in America” (Pelley, 2010). As a result of this investigation, I was inspired to travel to American Samoa in June 2013 to learn firsthand what variables and conditions led to the production of National Football League (NFL) Draft picks from this country, Tonga and all the regions within the United States of America.
The purpose of this Capstone is to determine where and why professional football players are coming from certain geographic regions to be drafted into the NFL. Twenty-six years of data, of NFL draft statistics from 1988-2013, help identify certain areas of the country that have proven success in producing NFL players. This study used linear regression analyses to isolate relationships between the hometown region of the NFL player and a multitude of different factors that may have a significant impact on a prospect’s becoming an NFL Draft pick. The data were compiled through the collection of information from USA Today, ProFootballReference.com and the NFL League Offices. Hometown was used as the reference point for each NFL player during this time period. Hometown is defined as the state or territory in which the player went to high school last before attending a college or a university. Breaking down the data even more, this document looks into which regions are producing the most NFL players at specific positions on the field.
The American Samoan culture and heritage have taught the NFL players coming out of this region the self-discipline to continue to work at their craft and get better at playing football each day. “[F]ootball is a way of life” for American Samoans (Savali, 2013). The shared goal of making it to the NFL through established paths of playing the game they love is now as strong as ever. Along with genetic and physical factors, American Samoan culture, demographics and the way its players practice football are the reasons that American Samoa is the most significant producer of NFL players per capita.
My conclusions from this research are that the big three states of Texas, Florida and California are the top regions for NFL talent because they are proven producers of most of the NFL players. Based on this data, I also have concluded if you are looking for a player for a specific position on the field (e.g., a quarterback), it is best to look at a region where the percentage of their NFL Draft picks is above the United States percentage for that position and one that has produced at least fifty NFL players; this will increase the efficiency of selecting an NFL-caliber player based on a certain position. Lastly, with regard to players growing up in the Southeast geographic region, higher obesity levels, income levels and educational ratings may factor into one’s having a better chance of getting into the NFL as well. These results could be persuasive in an NFL or college recruiting room in choosing the next great NFL football player.
Murray, Robert, "A Geographical Analysis of the Origin of National Football League Players and Draftees" (2014). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 792.
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