Character Counts For NFL & Ravens

OWINGS MILLS — The NFL draft marks the first litmus test of whether rookie commissioner Roger Goodell’s stern admonition about drawing a strict line on character issues is being heard clearly.
This isn’t a new concern. For years, NFL executives have either downgraded prospects because of behavior or legal problems or ignored obvious warning signs.
However, this will be the first year where an expanded conduct policy allows Goodell to hand down lengthy suspensions like the full-season one he issued to Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones or punish teams that employ recidivist criminals.
Goodell now has broad powers to punish teams for players’ repeated transgressions, including imposing fines or taking away draft picks.
“That falls on us,” Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “There are some players now we may have to pass on because I don’t want to put Steve Bisciotti in that position or put this organization in that position to be held accountable for a player that I knew had some issues.”
Although high-profile Ravens have had significant legal problems, most notably linebacker Ray Lewis and running back Jamal Lewis, those situations transpired after they were already in the NFL. The Ravens have traditionally shied away from players with multiple brushes with the law at the collegiate level.
“We’ve always felt pressure to avoid the troubled kids, the bad-character guys,” Ravens director of college scouting Eric DeCosta said. “We’d rather not deal with those players. I think other teams may be willing to take those chances with some success. Unfortunately for them, they’ve had some problems, too.”
Especially the Cincinnati Bengals, who have had nine players arrested in the past year with recalcitrant wide receiver Chris Henry suspended for eight games after being arrested four times in three different states. The Bengals, who don’t employ nearly as many scouts as other teams, tend to take the most risks on character issues.
Jones is the poster boy for trouble with 10 incidents involving the police since 2005.
There are several potential draft picks whose behavior could significantly affect their draft stock, including: UNLV cornerback Eric Wright’s arrest for suspicion of rape and having Ecstasy tablets in his dorm room while at USC with the charges dropped; Florida defensive tackle Marcus Thomas being suspended for failing drug tests for marijuana and kicked off the team for failure to comply with reinstatement conditions; North Carolina State defensive tackle Tank Tyler arrested for assaulting a police officer and Cal running back Marshawn Lynch investigated for allegedly sexually assaulting his girlfriend with no charges filed along with his car being riddled with bullets in a drive-by shooting.
Miami safety Brandon Merriweather was suspended for stomping on a Florida International player during an ugly brawl. He shot a registered gun to defend himself during a robbery attempt. Texas cornerback Tarell Brown has a history of marijuana and weapons-related incidents. Thomas reportedly is off some teams’ draft boards.
The Ravens emphasize that a player doesn’t have to have a pristine background to be considered draftable. They are willing to bank on a player learning from past mistakes or being influenced positively by the team’s structure.
“There are guys that have issues who came into our league, matured and became good citizens for the league,” Newsome said.
Recently, the NFL had an embarrassing information leak as Pro Football Weekly revealed that Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams and Louisville defensive tackle Amobi Okoye acknowledged to league officials that they have experimented with marijuana.
None of the players tested positive for drugs or has a history of off-field problems, so their stock isn’t expected to be affected. Goodell, though, is furious and has vowed to try to catch and punish whomever leaked the information.
Prior to the draft, Newsome will meet with Bisciotti and team president Dick Cass to alert them about possible red-flag players.
“We will have those discussions before the draft so that once we get on the clock, we don’t have to have those discussions,” Newsome said.
Unlike other teams, the Ravens don’t use psychological testing to screen players or subscribe to a scouting service for information. They rely on their instincts and they investigate players by quizzing everyone from equipment managers, athletic department secretaries and professors.
They utilize their own version of good cop, bad cop to try to shake players out of the programmed answers preached by their agents.
“Ozzie and I use good cop, bad cop to try to get under somebody’s skin,” DeCosta said. “We go on our gut instincts. Some guys just kind of rub us the wrong way. Other guys we fall in love with.
“We’ve made some mistakes in the past and you can buy the hype on a certain guy and be wrong, but, more often than not, I think we do a pretty good job of being right.”
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland
This entry was posted in The Beat with Aaron Wilson by Aaron Wilson. Bookmark the permalink.

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson
Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best...more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

evden eve nakliyat şirketleri ofis taşımacılığı evden eve nakliye istanbul evden eve nakliyat Şehirlerarası Evden Eve Nakliyat İstanbul Nakliyat Firmaları

Hot off the street

CAMP RECAP: Brooks Not Yet Ready For Prime Time

Camp Week 1: What We Know and Don’t Know So Far With nearly a week of training camp practices in the books (capped off by last night’s performance at M&T Bank stadium), some of the pieces more

Highlights & Disappointments from Week 1 of Camp

Training camp is a little under a week old and the Baltimore Ravens are progressing as expected. There have been highs and lows as there are each and every year, but for all the offseason issues more

BEHIND ENEMY LINES: Burning Bridges in Pittsburgh

As we enter the heart of the training camp season, let’s dive into what’s going on around the AFC North in another edition of Behind Enemy Lines.   CLEVELAND BROWNS Austin due for a big more

CAMP NOTES: Smith & Smith Cross Examine Defense

The offense took the field intent on sharpening their skills in offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak's new system. It is easy to see that the Kubiak offense certainly is tight end friendly. Dennis more

CAMP NOTES: McPhee Shines While Jackson Makes a Move

On Monday evening, the Ravens took to the field at M&T Bank Stadium for their first of three open practices of training camp. Over 28,000 Ravens fans got their first look at the 90 players more

View More