Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Fraternity is kind of a funny word.
It's a word athletes throw around all the time.
"It feels like I'm finally part of the fraternity."
"Playing for the Giants is like being in a fraternity."
But what if a group of athletes, say the NFL's top running backs, were part of an ACTUAL fraternity. You know, the kind with Greek letters and toga parties.
Can you imagine Maurice Jones-Drew and Chris Johnson sharing a cramped bedroom and listening to Dave Matthews? Or Reggie Bush and Darren McFadden walking around hazing freshman?
Suddenly Hard Knocks with the Cincinnati Bengals doesn't seem quite as interesting.
Thinking of pledging next semester? I'll give you the tour.
The godfather (Adrian Peterson): A stud in every sense of the word.
Peterson is someone everyone else in the frat looks up to. He's the best back in the NFL and he makes it look easy. If you need something done in a pinch (touchdowns, rushing yards, getting sororities to come to that mixer on Thursday night), he's the guy you can count on.
Think Luke Wilson from Old School, but with a faster 40 time.
The pledges (Doug Martin, Alfred Morris, Trent Richardson, Stevan Ridley, C.J. Spiller): These guys impressed during rush (all except Richardson ran for 1,000 yards last season) and now they're only a semester away from being brothers in the frat.
You can bet the seniors will put them through the ringer, but if they make it to initiation, you're going to have a pretty good-looking fantasy team.
The question is, can they last the whole semester?
The transfer students (Reggie Bush, Chris Ivory, Steven Jackson, Rashard Mendenhall): None of these players started their careers where they are now.
Some of them have pretty nice resumes (10,135 career rushing yards for Jackson, 13 touchdowns for Mendenhall in 2010), but we won't know exactly what to expect until we see them in uniform.
It might take these backs a while to fit in, but they still deserve a chance.
The wild cards (Chris Johnson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ryan Mathews, Darren McFadden): These guys are on double-secret probation.
Whether it's fumbles, injuries or too many late nights with Frank the Tank, somehow these players have lost their way.
He's fun to watch, but do you really want a guy like Darren McFadden representing your team? He's never played more than 13 games in a season.
And what about Ryan Matthews? His stats last year (one TD, career-worst 3.8 yards per carry) were messier than the Faber College cafeteria after a food fight. And who wants to clean that up?
The Van Wilders (Peyton Hillis, Fred Jackson, Willis McGahee, Michael Turner, DeAngelo Williams): Can't these guys just graduate already?
Williams is 30 and he hasn't had a 1,000-yard season since 2009.
Hillis is playing for his fourth team in five years and these days Turner (still a free agent) moves around slower than Will Ferrell after a keg stand.
Do us all a favor. Get your diplomas and get out of here.
The freshmen (Montee Ball, Le'Veon Bell, Giovani Bernard, Eddie Lacy): I never joined a frat during my three and a half years at Syracuse, but I did try to go to their parties on occasion. Most of my frat encounters as a freshman went like this:
(Waiting at the front door)
Frat guy: Do you know anyone here?
Me: Uh ... no.
Frat guy: Did you bring girls?
Me: I think my friend Rachel is back there somewhere.
(But not really)
Frat guy: That's not enough. Do you have ten bucks?
(Fumbling for my wallet)
Me: Uh ... I've got five.
Frat guy: Get out of here.
I really hope things go better for Ball, Bell, Bernard and Lacy than they did for me when I was a rookie, but remember this is the NFL. Even the good running backs are lucky to last five years in this league.
My advice to rookies: know plenty of girls and always have $10 on you. And if that doesn't work, well I guess you're on your own.
I think I just figured out what to call my fantasy team. TOGA, TOGA, TOGA!