To be Successful it Takes More Than Talent in the NFL

Pittman Webb

The Ravens were on the clock during the 2009 NFL Draft as they prepared to make the 88th overall selection in Round 3.

They turned in the pick: Lardarius Webb, a 5’10”, 179 pound cornerback from Thibodaux, Louisiana’s Nicholls State.

Immediately I thought back to a conversation I had with Ravens Assistant GM Eric DeCosta about a very similar selection they made back in 2006.

Then while on the clock with the 87th overall pick the Ravens chose 5’11”, 182-pound cornerback from Natchitoches, Louisiana’s Northwestern State, David Pittman.

DeCosta shared that the Ravens had learned a lesson taking a corner from a small school that high in the draft. The concern centered upon the level of competition corners face in small school programs compared to what they face in the NFL.

So I wondered why they would make the same “mistake” twice with Webb.

I was told that Webb would be different. That he had overcome adversity in his life and was mentally prepared to handle the failures that would certainly greet him at the next level. It was also pointed out to me that Webb did compete against Division I teams while a member of the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles.

Clearly DeCosta was right and Webb is different.

But did Pittman and Webb really differ that much that the former was such a flop?

Apparently there was more to the story.

The Ravens aren’t over-the-top when it comes to the hazing of rookies but one of the things the veterans demand of the young newcomers is that during dining hours, the rookies have to carry the vets’ food trays, essentially serving them at their dining table.

Pittman wouldn’t oblige.

When the team vets implored Pittman to, “Carry the chicken” he steadfastly refused to succumb to the mild form of hazing.

The refusal was costly.

Pittman was ostracized, became a loner and soon thereafter a former Raven.

The lesson for the Ravens in part was that it takes more than talent to be successful. The ability to overcome adversity and to mesh with teammates is also key to a player’s development or lack thereof.

And sometimes you just have to give in and carry the chicken.

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About Tony Lombardi

Tony Lombardi
Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of and His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin...more

9 Raves on “To be Successful it Takes More Than Talent in the NFL

  1. justifythegame on said:

    In my opinion, Webb has only showed us one great season thus far. I don’t disagree with the Ravens for giving him the big contract the following year, but I am hesitant to call him a successful player based on his limited production the past 4 seasons. It could turn out that Webb was a one year wonder or a player that can’t stay of the field because of how easily he gets hurt, let’s just say im cautiously optimistic.

    • Greg on said:

      You would think differently if you knew his game charted stats in 2012 before he got hurt. Lets just say they were insanely good. He was noted (by PFF in this case) as having a clear cut Pro Bowl season. He was extremely dominant, being thrown at very rarely and when he was, giving up 0 TDs and only a 37% completion rate.

      In 2011 you’ll remember he gave up exactly 0 passing TDs as well in what was his best year. He had 4 INTs in the playoffs. Sure Yates was not a big time QB but Andre Johnson was big time WR and Brady certainly was a legit QB.

      His biggest mistake of course was in the 2010 Divisional when he allowed the 3rd and 17 as a young 2nd year nickel CB but since then has been very dominant.

      The health thing is a concern, but he’s more than just a one year wonder according to the stats.

      • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

        Greg, I appreciate your knowledge and the time invested to share it. That said, I think you’ve missed the point of the article.

        • Robert Fuse on said:

          I don’t think Greg missed the point of the article. He was just telling justifythegame that Webb isn’t just a “one year wonder”. Webb has developed into a very good player.

          • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

            Webb is my favorite Raven. The point is to say there’s more to being successful than just talent but that doesn’t mean that Webb lacks it…not by any stretch.

    • patrick on said:

      justifythegame may have a point on Webb being injury prone, but he is no one year wonder. He was already showing flashes of greatness back in 09 and had already won the starting nickle back job before his first injury. I remember a play in particular where he matched Mike Wallace step for step and stripped the ball from him in the endzone.

  2. JerryB on said:

    One of the crucial ingredients to success in the NFL that is not statistically measurable is…….HEART!

  3. Robert Fuse on said:

    @Tony: No doubt. The Ravens have a history of undersized guys falling to them. On paper a lot of guys are better than what a stat sheet might say. I know that the Ravens look for other intangibles like heart, work ethic, willpower etc. They have to essentially Play Like A Raven. Very good article by the way Tony.

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