Texas Tech's Graham Harrell has signed with the Sasketchewan Roughriders. Harrell, of course, was undrafted, and had a "tryout" with the Browns that resulted in no contract being offered. He has since languished, and this seems the best bet he has. I can sum my feelings up on this, thusly: I'm not really sure I want to live in a world where Jared Lorenzen (currently of the ArenaFootball2 Lexington Horsemen) can flop around the NFL for four seasons while Graham Harrell has the door slammed in his face.
Harrell's experience here reminds me of a story by Kafka. In honor of Harrell and the Captain (who I believe is a Kafka fan), here is a very slightly paraphrased version, adapted for Harrell. (Original here.)
Before the NFL
Before the NFL sits a gatekeeper. To this gatekeeper comes a man from Texas who asks to gain entry into the NFL. But the gatekeeper says that he cannot grant him entry at the moment. The man thinks about it and then asks if he will be allowed to come in sometime later on. “It is possible,” says the gatekeeper, “but not now.” The gate to the NFL stands open, as always, and the gatekeeper walks to the side, so the man bends over in order to see through the gate into the inside. When the gatekeeper notices that, he laughs and says: “If it tempts you so much, try going inside in spite of my prohibition. But take note. I am powerful. And I am only the most lowly gatekeeper. But from room to room stand gatekeepers, each more powerful than the other. I cannot endure even one glimpse of the third.” The man from the country has not expected such difficulties: the NFL should always be accessible for someone who has thrown for over 15,000 yards and 130 touchdowns, he thinks, even if he did play in a Mike Leach system.
But as he now looks more closely at the gatekeeper in his fur coat, at his large pointed nose and his long, thin, black Tartar’s beard, he decides that it would be better to wait until he gets permission to go inside. The gatekeeper gives him a stool and allows him to sit down at the side in front of the gate. There he sits for days and years. He makes many attempts to be let in, and he wears the gatekeeper out with his requests. The gatekeeper often interrogates him briefly, questioning him about his homeland and what it was like to throw to Michael Crabtree and what it was like to beat Texas on the last play and whether Mike Leach is really that weird and many other things, but they are indifferent questions, the kind great men put, and at the end he always tells him once more that he cannot let him inside yet.
The man, who has trained vigorously for his journey, tries out with everyone to win over the gatekeeper. The latter observes it all but, as he does so, says, “I am doing this only so that you do not think you have failed to do anything.” During the many years the man observes the gatekeeper almost continuously. He forgets the other gatekeepers, and this first one seems to him the only obstacle for entry into the NFL. He curses the unlucky circumstance, in the first years thoughtlessly and out loud; later, as he grows old, he only mumbles to himself. He becomes childish and, since in the long years studying the gatekeeper he has also come to know the fleas in his fur collar, he even asks the fleas to help him persuade the gatekeeper. Finally his eyesight grows weak, and he does not know whether things are really darker around him or whether his eyes are merely deceiving him. But he recognizes now in the darkness an illumination which breaks inextinguishably out of the gateway to the NFL. Now he no longer has much time to live. Before his death he gathers in his head all his experiences of the entire time up into one question which he has not yet put to the gatekeeper. He waves to him, since he can no longer lift up his stiffening body. The gatekeeper has to bend way down to him, for the great difference has changed things considerably to the disadvantage of the man. “What do you still want to know now?” asks the gatekeeper. “You are insatiable.” “Everyone strives after the NFL,” says the man, “so how is that in these many years no one except me has requested entry?” The gatekeeper sees that the man is already dying and, in order to reach his diminishing sense of hearing, he shouts at him, “Here no one else can gain entry, since this entrance was assigned only to you. I’m going now to close it.”