Watching Paul Rabil grow into his position as the biggest name in lacrosse has been an interesting ride. As Rabil has matured and improved on the field from his college days, he has also shown impressive advancement off the field, and nowhere was this more evident than at #LaxCon last weekend in Paul’s hometown of Baltimore, MD.
In a world where pro stars often stumble, or allow personal issues to invade their professional lives, Paul’s relatively seamless transition from respected college athlete to player of our time status is nothing short of amazing. Rabil may or may not be your favorite player, but there is simply no denying his star power, or the clean way he conducts business.
Paul Rabil at #LaxCon
Certain people stay at LaxCon all weekend, and put in WORK. Paul Rabil was one of those people this past weekend. I saw him in meetings, doing interviews, signing tons of autographs, putting on demos, doing videos, and much more. The man was constantly in demand and he delivered time and time again.
For me, Kyle Harrison is the top guy when it comes to putting on a field demo, but Rabil is no slouch in this department now and has really stepped up his game. His personality shines through, and he communicates in a clear and concise manner. In particular, I liked how he broke down a behind the back pass during one of his field demos. He focused on maintaining overhand mechanics, and explained how the push-pull system of throwing was still going on, just with your hands reversed. He was also throwing super accurate btb passes to a kid running around on the field while he was explaining it, and it all came together perfectly. I don’t know who that little kid was, but he caught everything. Speaking of kids, they were all over Rabil, and he deals with the mob very well. It helps that he’s a huge person, but his command of attention and ability to interact is rock solid. He’ll sign autographs until the cows come home, even for a guy like me. I wrote a somewhat prickly article about his recent trade to New York, but when I asked him to sign a wooden stick he simply smiled and said “Hey Connor, of course.” The stick is an auction item for the upcoming CityLax Gala, but I didn’t even have to tell him that. He was perfectly willing to be professional just because he has mastered the art of a good image. Rabil was all over the place, interacting, talking, smiling, and at the same time, working.
It’s Not ALL About Image…
But image plays a part! Let’s be honest, Rabil is a terrifying lacrosse player. He’s big, fast, athletic, and dedicated to improving. He trains hard and sees success with pretty much whatever he tries. His on the field ability alone is enough to put him amongst the biggest names in the sport. At the same time, Rabil has also crafted a serious image for himself and it’s a cohesive vision. The lacrosse portion was on display at LaxCon, but he’s interested in alternative sports like skateboarding and wrestling as well, and he has played countless game of FIFA against kids online. More recently, he has made sure his haircut is always on point and pushing boundaries. Right now it’s like a front and back mullet with shaved sides. I couldn’t pull it off, but Paul somehow can. He wears tight shirts (they’re probably still XL or bigger) and dresses to the nines when he’s doing a promo or hosting a gala for his foundation. He’s also the selfie king of lax. Judge it however you want, but it’s true.
You might think that all of the above is silly or meaningless, but it’s not. For an athlete looking to see success and increase their relevance, crafting an off-the-field image is incredibly important. It gives them the extra push and increases their value. It’s all part of our modern sports landscape, and you see it in almost every single sport. From old Jordan commercials to Gretzky’s move to LA, image has been hugely important in sport. Remember when that story came out about Kobe Bryant driving his fancy car to practice at 4am and shooting baskets before the custodial staff had even arrived? That wasn’t just chance, it was a crafted story, which portrayed an image, and it helped take Bryant to the next level.
The only difference between Paul Rabil and these athletes is that they competed in prime time sports, and Rabil plays lacrosse, which is still very much a fringe sport when it comes to our national sporting consciousness.
So when it all boils down, at least for me, Paul Rabil has created a great image for himself. It’s sustainable and relatively honest, and most importantly, it’s positive. Rabil lives a clean life, works his butt off, and does good in his community utilizing his star power. Maybe you don’t love his haircuts, but is that really a reason not to respect the hell out of the guy? I don’t think so.
The Future Of Paul Rabil
When I think about Rabil’s future, I can see it going in a lot of different directions, but I don’t think that falling off or reaching a plateau is in the plans any time soon. Rabil is a savvy business man, and if you think he is everywhere now, just wait another year. He will continue to expand his name and reputation, and the current trend will only increase. Do I think we’ll see a backlash? No, not really. He’s a good player, a good guy, and he seems to get it. Plus he has a good team around him, a lovely wife (who is one heck of a player in her own right), and supportive friends. He’s not going anywhere.
Well, actually, he is going somewhere. His move to the New York Lizards makes me think we’re going to see a lot more of him in the Big Apple, and that should be good for lacrosse in a larger sense. I simply can’t imagine that Rabil will fly up to Long Island for practices and games and then jet back to Maryland immediately. There is simply too much opportunity in New York to pass up (no offense to Baltimore) for Rabil to expand his brand to a larger audience. Expect to see PR99 is NYC for more than just games. From a business sense, it’s a no brainer, and Rabil has quite a brain on him. He’s also backed by a strong management team, and they will definitely see the opportunity there.
Now here’s a question about the future that has to be asked: Will Paul Rabil WRESTLE?
The man’s obsession with wrestling is clearly evident. He watches it, talks about it, and quotes conversations he has had with The Rock on Twitter. He went to the Royal Rumble. Next year he’ll probably be IN the Royal Rumble, as a wrassler. I mean seriously, he’s big enough. His hair is audacious enough. He has a big arm tattoo and Scotty Rodgers would be a great teammate. Those guys are always messing around with WWE stuff.
Is this really happening? Seriously, I have no idea, but there is a weird, small part of me yelling “IT’S HAPPENING, YOU IDIOT!”, so there’s that. All I’m saying is that I wouldn’t be shocked to see a guy like Rabil take things to the next level in this manner. Would it work for growing lacrosse? I have no idea, but I’m as curious as a cat!
Maybe it won’t be wrestling, and Rabil will simply continue to grow his lacrosse brand, make more visits to nearby
The Zen of Paul
It’s not like Rabil is walking around saying Ohm, but when you see Paul out in public, there is a certain zen to him. He doesn’t get flustered by massive amounts of attention, finds quiet time to himself when he needs it, and just generally looks in control, while chaos bubbles around him. If I had that many things going on at once I’d probably go crazy, but Rabil takes it all in stride. It’s a big part of what makes me a believer in his brand and future. He has made huge strides in this regard, and these days no one can call him standoffish.
This demeanor will help him in New York City. It’s a crazy place, and if Rabil is going to make it, his ability to function in the face of chaos is going to be key. Being comfortable at being uncomfortable is a weird idea, but it’s an important skill. Navigating the business world is similar as well, and juggling a bunch of sponsors and interests is never easy, even if Rabil makes it look easy. He clearly has goals, and a plan, and he’s sticking to it. It’s a good recipe for calm, and for success.
There is no doubt that Paul Rabil is the biggest name in lacrosse right now, and that he has held that title for a couple of years. You may be partial to the on field game of guys like Casey
It’s a huge burden, and others, like Mike
We have a face for our sport, and it’s a good face. It’s one of character, one that values hard work, and is willing to put the game above itself in many ways. If lacrosse is going to make it big in the sporting world, we need a guy like this. I’m happy that, for now, it’s Paul Rabil. How long with his reign continue? Looking forward, I don’t see the end coming for a long time.
I will continue to look at Paul Rabil’s ascendence in our sport and the larger sporting world, and while there may be small bumps along the way, which I will probably write about, the upward trajectory looks promising for quite some time. Rabil is, on the field, comparable to some other players in the pro leagues. Off the field, there simply isn’t an equal. The near future of lacrosse is tied to this man tightly, and I think he’ll continue to do our sport justice, with many more interesting twists and turns to come. Maybe wrestling is only the beginning?