Jeff Demps’ Decision to Return to Track and Field Could Put NFL Career in Jeopardy
Olympic medalist Jeff Demps has informed the New England Patriots he plans to return to track and field and race for Team USA. But Demps has no plans to quit football as his agent told the Patriots he would like to remain a part of the team.
“Jeff loves football and he loves the Patriots, but he also loves the chance to represent his country,” Jeff Demp’s agent, Daniel Rose, told the Herald. “He wants to do both.”
Two weeks ago, I wrote how Jeff Demps has the chance to be the Patriots starting kick returner in 2013 and potentially fix the woes of the team that ranked 25th in the NFL in kickoff return yards a season ago. But becoming a two-sport athlete will significantly hurt the chances of Demps earning the starting nod at kickoff returner.
After witnessing the blazing speed that Demps displayed in the 2012 Olympics, the Patriots elected to sign him to a three-year, $1.451 million contract. Because Demps got to training camp late, finishing competition in the Olympics, the Patriots decided to place him on injured reserve, ending his season in hopes that he could take a year to soak in the NFL life on the sidelines and be ready to compete for the 2013 season.
The Patriots envisioned Demps as a potential return specialist with a limited role in the offense in 2013 but with Demps returning to track and field his role with the team is in unclear. Head Coach Bill Belichick demands his players focus on the task at hand and to “do their job” as every player is held accountable. With Demps’ focus not entirely on football, Belichick may opt to release the former electrifying running back out of the University of Florida.
There is no denying that Demps is a talented football player. As the primary running back for the Gators, he rushed for nearly 2,500 yards and 23 touchdowns. Demps also returned 21 kickoffs in his four seasons at Florida, attaining 604 yards and average of 28.8 yards per kickoff. But Belichick may not have the patience to work with a player who is not entirely committed to the team.
Demps will have to hope his electrifying speed and agile moves in kickoffs can convince Belichick to stick with him past the upcoming training camp.