The Daily Nole

Former FSU WR P.K. Sam to Release Book in November

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For Florida State fans who can remember back to the early 2000s, P.K. Sam is a name few will forget. After spending his first two seasons at FSU largely as a reserve, Sam broke out as a junior in 2003 with 50 catches for 735 yards and five touchdowns, including a pair of game-winners.

The most notable came in the regular season finale as Sam hauled in a 52-yard pass from Chris Rix with under a minute to go to lift the Seminoles to a 38-34 victory over rival Florida in Gainesville. Sam that year was part of talented trio that included Craphonso Thorpe and Dominic Robinson. After a junior year that ended with an ACC crown and top-10 finish for FSU, Sam decided to forego his senior season and enter the NFL Draft.

Sam is now working on the releasing of a book entitled “I Should’ve Stayed”. Sam went on to be selected in the fifth round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots, but played in just two career regular season games and failed to record an NFL catch. Sam held stints with the Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins before moving on to the Canadian Football League.

“The main focus is really talking to fans and young athletes like in high school or maybe the later parts of middle school,” Sam said. “I just wanted to plant the seed on how young people can start building their own brand and reach out to the right people. We all start out as students and no matter how intelligent we are, we start relying on this fame. Once sports is over, we sometimes don’t know what to do.”

Sam spent more than three years from 2008-11 playing in the CFL, where he noted many players worked regular jobs in addition to football. Sam said that when football or athletics is over, it isn’t uncommon for former players to have a tough time adapting to workplaces.

Often times, he said, they’re relegated to entry-level jobs, sometimes earning less than $40,000 per year. After spending his entire life playing football, Sam said he had small bouts with depression once playing was no longer a viable option. Sam hopes to eventually start a program where athletes can partake in offseason internships to learn trades and skills to prepare for a career after sports.

“I want to try to connect the fans to the players and let the fans know how important they are,” Sam said. “If you have a business card, mail it to them and bridge that gap between athletes and fans.”

Sam’s story also touches on the recruiting process and he’ll unveil his reason for deciding to leave early for the draft and why in hindsight, he should’ve stayed. His decision, he said, was one at the time that was done out of anger.

“As a young kid, 17 years old, you don’t always realize the business that college football is,” Sam said. “When coaches — in my case Bobby Bowden — come into your home, part of him is a salesperson. That’s not meant to be disrespectful to Bobby, but that’s how he feeds his family. There are certain parts of the book that some people will not like.”

Sam left FSU without a degree, but plans on returning in hopes of becoming a youth counselor. Sam said that leaving early for professional sports has become more acceptable than it was when he made his decision more than 13 years ago.

“It is more acceptable,” Sam said. “I think the coaches are more understanding of that situation too. By the time I played for Bobby, he was so much older than the people he was coaching. There was 50 years difference. He wasn’t really prepared for the change in athlete. When you grow up with no money and you have the opportunity to change your family’s stars, so I call it, it’s hard not to.”

For athletes grappling with making the same decision that Sam made in 2004, the former FSU wide receiver said it is important to weigh all the options and to find trustworthy people to help through the process. Once an agent is hired, Sam noted that there is no going back.

“The No. 1 thing is you need 100 percent honest people in your corner,” he said. “I think I was kind of in the middle of the road with that. At the end of the day, you have to be confident in your decision and when you get to the next level, you have to realize there are no more redshirts or transfers. After one game, a team can decide they don’t want you and that could be it when you could have had a whole other season in college.”

Sam said his purpose in writing the book is not to render any ill-will toward Florida State, but simply to shed light on key issues that face athletes then and today. Sam’s planned publish date will come in late November during the week of the annual Florida-Florida State game. This year’s contest takes place on Nov. 25 in Gainesville — the same place where Sam made one of the biggest plays in the history of the rivalry nearly 14 years prior.

“It’s not a coincidence,” Sam said. “It’s a really good story. I’ve talked to several other players who are going through the same types of stuff. I love Florida State. It was a dream come true and one of the greatest experience in my life.”

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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