The 2010 NFL Draft is now in the books. Ratings grew by up to 50% according to early reports and the league will claim victory for its decision.
Beyond that and the shock to everyone's system that the Oakland Raiders chose players as if they worked for an owner who hasn't lost his senses, the theme of the draft was the word "character". Or at least that is what we are led to believe.
What's intriguing to me is how that word has become a euphemism for all manner of bad behavior and personality traits. When I hear the phrase, "he's a high character guy" I immediately know a few things about the athlete.
He has no criminal record, hasn't tested positive for a banned substance, has survived college football without suspicion of an NCAA violation and hasn't been suspended for failing to follow the team rules. In other words he's done what is expected of him and didn't get in trouble.
But this year a new definition came into play when character was thrown around on the ESPN and NFL Network's football broadcasts. If a draft hopeful was deemed to be too cocky with a bit of an attitude, that was a black mark against him.
Case in point, Jimmy Clausen, quarterback from Notre Dame. Clausen was the consensus pick as the most pro offense-ready among his peers in the draft class although Sam Bradford was taken at # 1 by the St. Louis Rams. Clausen dropped into the middle of the second round, picked by the Carolina Panthers with the # 48 pick.
His sin was being cocky and over confident. At least that is what the talk was all over the broadcasts this weekend. In years past, a quarterback candidate was applauded for that trait. He was expected to garner respect immediately, show his teammates that he is their leader and inspire confidence in the huddle.
I have seen nothing of Clausen that would reinforce that description but then again, he would be expected to be on his best behavior when the red light on the video camera is lit. He isn't sweet and giddy about everything, sort of like Tebow, isn't quiet and restrained like Bradford and not folksie like Colt McCoy.
As the broadcast hosts continued to gasp when teams who wanted QBs passed on Clausen, you'd have thought he was Ben Roethlisberger with a splash of Terrell Owens. And yet when the time came to review a young man that embodies the phrase "high character", one Myron Rolle from Florida State, teams continued to pass.
He wasn't chosen until the 207th pick by the Tennessee Titans. Rolle's failings? He had the temerity to take the opportunity to be a Rhodes Scholar and forego his senior year at college. He has repeatedly said he wants to practice medicine when his playing days are over.
There isn't one whiff of bad behavior around the kid, but he sat there with his family, who must have thought they were in the Twilight Zone while their son was overlooked for guys who tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Combine.
The NFL team execs and scouts who live in a bubble like politicians who haven't had a real job in years, somehow are oblivious to the fact that people can start new careers in their thirties without losing focus on what they are doing in their twenties. Happens all the time.
Their fear is that he isn't committed to a career in the NFL because of his outside interests. Those are code words for him not being one dimensional and having options for a second career.
So what are we to think? Here's a thought. Lack of character will keep teams from drafting someone at a high position but high character will prejudice them in a worse way when it is believed a prospect might just be smarter than everyone in upper management.
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