Each year, NFL teams make decisions on drafting players with a history of off-field issues in college that make them question marks.
Whenever a pick is made, those with the club provide rationalizations and justification for why they did what they did.
So it was that numerous questions were asked of the Browns after they used a second-round pick in the supplemental draft on Baylor wide receiver Josh Gordon, who not only failed three drug tests in college, but initially lied about the third one.
At the start of training camp, coach Pat Shurmur was asked how he balances talent against personal issues with players like Gordon.
Shurmur said, “I don’t know about balancing. We don’t expect that to happen again and when we go through the process of deciding that we are going to draft this player, we have to come to the conclusion that we feel like this is behind him. Now, I will say this and it may apply to you, me, everybody; people have things that happen in their background, some adversity and I think it’s fair to say that if they can overcome that it makes them stronger in some ways. We anticipate that this will not be an issue, we are going to watch it closely and I think he understands how important it is to be a good teammate and be a good pro. That being said, I hope we don’t have to discuss it anymore.”
Gordon was suspended indefinitely by Baylor in July, 2011, after failing a drug test for marijuana. In October, 2010, he also failed a test one day after being arrested.
After the Browns picked him, Gordon acknowledged the positive tests at Baylor, but said he remained clean at Utah. However, NFL Network reported he had also failed a drug test while at Utah.
That led to Gordon finally admitting to the failed test there. He said, “Yeah, there was a failed test. But definitely something I want to get past. Coming out here, I have a new experience, a new foundation to get started and I don’t really plan on looking back in the past anymore. I only look toward my future.”
Of course, before declaring for the supplemental draft on June 29, he had been attempting to transfer from Utah to Houston.
But now, he insists he’s changed. Gordon said, “For me, just having an opportunity to be out here is definitely all the motivation I need to feel as though I need to stay on the right path. Seeing as I’m already a guy with a spotty background, it would make no sense to go back to doing the stuff that I was doing. I mean I have no thoughts of ever trying to be that person or be the bad guy that everybody (was) like expecting him to be. I don’t want to be that person.
“I’m definitely a changed person. The things that happened were such a long time ago and the fact that there’s this many people in such a prestigious organization like this, putting their jobs and their necks out on the line for a guy like me, it says a lot about them and their character. I just want to meet them halfway on that agreement. And if they’re going to be willing to do this for me, I want to just want to be willing to reciprocate with the same thing.”
Saints interim head coach Joe Vitt, who will be suspended for the first six games of the season, remains strong in his conviction that the team is not guilty of what it is being accused of by commissioner Roger Goodell.
At the start of training camp, Vitt said. “The Commissioner has suspended me for six games for the spoken word and not the clenched fist. I’m taking responsibility for that and I’m going to get better at that. I’m making a conscious effort so far to get better at that. Now this is in the eyes of the beholder. We did not have a bounty program; we had a pay for performance program, as do a lot of teams. But we are going to make a conscious effort as an organization and a coaching staff to temper what we say and how we say it.”
When asked why it was important for him to testify on behalf of suspended linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Vitt said, “I said this to everybody in my first press conference and I have shared this with the Commissioner and the league: At no time did our players ever cross the white lines with the intent of hurting or injuring another player. Jonathan Vilma and Scott Fujita were in my meeting rooms when these allegations have come out. I know Jonathan Vilma’s intent. I know his work habits, leadership qualities and what he means to this team. The leadership qualities that he has, he has always put his team and his teammates first and I stand behind Jonathan Vilma.”
An About Face
During the lockout, commissioner Roger Goodell talked often of playing 18 regular-season games and Green Bay packers president Mark Murphy, a former player, was also an advocate. Now, Murphy has supposedly changed his mind.
He told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, “Now, to be honest with you, I couldn’t support a move to 18. I just think with all the focus on the player health and safety, it would be really hard to do that.”
Murphy is in favor though of slashing the preseason to two games. “I would be in support of a move to two and 16,” Murphy said. “Reduce the number of preseason games. The challenge there obviously is you’re losing revenue. On the other end, do you really have enough time to develop younger players if you only have two preseason games? Those are the things we have to look at. What kinds of things can we do to make sure the game is safe as possible?”
Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora on Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III: “Who is this RG3 guy you guys keep talking about? You talking about Bob Griffin? You guys are giving him a cool nickname already and everything. When he does anything in the NFL we’re gonna call him RG3. Right now he’s Bob Griffin.”