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Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland Went too Far With Prostitute Question

It isn’t out of the ordinary for NFL teams to sit town with perspective draft picks to get to know them better. But for the Miami Dolphins‘ GM Jeff Ireland, he went a little too far with his questions. Prior to the draft, Ireland sat down with Dez Bryant, a wide receiver out of Oklahoma State, and began asking very personal questions about his mother. Ireland asked Bryant whether his mother was a prostitute and whether she was still doing drugs. Excuse me? Bryant handled the situation really well:

“No, my mom is not a prostitute. I got mad — really mad — but I didn’t show it. I got a lot of questions like that: Does she still do drugs? I sat and answered all of them.”

Please tell me what that has to do with how this kid plays football. Not only is that question just plain rude, but it’s also none of his business. Ireland tried to justify this by saying that it’s his job “to find out as much information as possible about a player that [he's] considering drafting.” I disagree. You look at the talent this kid has on the field and the way he presents himself. His personal family background should have nothing to do with what you are looking at.

At the end of the day, I think Bryant is the one who benefits from Ireland’s poor judgment. He is receiving sympathetic media coverage because of this situation, and he was also the Dallas Cowboys’ first round draft pick. Just a hint of advice Mr. Ireland — don’t ever say anything bad about anyone’s mama.

Sources:
Bryant: ‘There’s nothing diva about me’ [Yahoo! Sports]
Dolphins GM apologizes for question to Dez Bryant [AP/Yahoo! Sports]

Raiders Set to Release Russell

After surprising the football world and putting together what appears to be a logical draft class last weekend, it seems certain that the Raiders will make another practical roster move and release quarterback JaMarcus Russell.  However, with crazy Al Davis at the helm of the Raiders organization, there is no such thing as a certainty.  ESPN is reporting that the team is ready to release Russell and has spent time figuring out ways in which they can do it without losing an incredible amount of money.  The team is now awaiting the final word from owner Al Davis before they can proceed.

I don’t expect Davis to stop this from happening, but if I’ve learned one thing about the Raiders over the years it’s to expect the unexpected from Weird Al.  JaMarcus Russell was a bad fit for the Raiders — then again it seems everyone they’ve gone after the past decade or so has been.  The last thing an Oakland organization in peril needed was a college quarterback who seemed to generate the most buzz about himself when he showed he could throw a football 60 yards from one knee.  Is Russell talented?  Absolutely.  What he accomplished at LSU — playing in the powerhouse SEC — is not to be overlooked.

The problem with JaMarcus is he just doesn’t care.  His teammates know it.  His coaches know it.  The fans know it.  LBS knew it years ago.  Al Davis might even know it, and it takes a lot to get that guy to understand important concepts.  The only thing that would stop Davis from giving the team the go-ahead to release Russell would be a hesitancy to admit another colossal mistake for his organization — one that will have cost him $39 million in exchange some of the worst quarterback play in the NFL.  Maybe it’s being in Oakland that makes Russell not want to try.  Randy Moss can certainly relate to that feeling.

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Scott Sicko Changes His Mind, Signs with Dallas Cowboys

On Sunday I posted the story of New Hampshire tight end Scott Sicko who went undrafted and decided to quit football despite outstanding offers to sign with several teams as a free agent. We questioned Sicko’s decision at the time because there are several free agents who have played in the NFL and had excellent careers despite being undrafted. Sicko didn’t see it that way but apparently we have helped him change his mind. On Tuesday, Sicko signed a deal with the Dallas Cowboys. According to Peter King’s story from SI, we can thank the Cowboys staff and ourselves for the deal commencing:

“Over the last couple of days I had a few conversations with the Cowboys and I talked to my agent a couple of times,” Sicko said. “They made me feel good about giving football a chance and that it would not ruin my plans for the rest of my life. Basically, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I realize I can probably do both and still accomplish my career goals.”

“I really didn’t read about [the public criticism] very much, but friends of mine told me what was out there,” Sicko said. “I try not to let outside forces influence my life. The Cowboys called and reiterated their interest in me, and their coaches said they were interested in me as a player and person, and that made me feel good. I don’t see this as anything that will be hurtful in my life.”

I’m glad Sicko had a little sense talked into him and realized he’s not as far off from his dream as he thought upon going undrafted. All he needs to do is look at two of his new teammates — Tony Romo and Miles Austin — to see how one can go from undrafted to star in the NFL. We don’t know if Sicko will join that tandem but we do know that he’s pursuing his dream. I’m glad we could provide some assistance with the matter. I’m also surprised the Cowboys weren’t concerned about his character following that episode but obviously they believe in him.

Sources:
Scott Sicko changes mind, signs with Cowboys [Peter King at SI]
Scott Sicko Goes Undrafted, Quits Football Despite Contract Offers [LBS]

Scott Sicko Goes Undrafted, Quits Football Despite Contract Offers

Of all the surprises to come out of the NFL draft weekend, what happened with New Hampshire tight end Scott Sicko was the most shocking. I don’t recall ever seeing a story like this one. With the draft capped at seven rounds, several talented football players go undrafted. Even though no team selects them in the draft, they’re able to sign with any team they choose as an undrafted free agent immediately following the draft (as long as there’s mutual interest). New Hampshire tight end Scott Sicko went undrafted but the Jaguars, Cowboys, and Jets all tried to sign him. Which team did he choose? None of them. Pro Football Talk shared this incredible story Saturday night via the Albany Times-Union:

Not getting drafted, [Sicko] decided, provided a new clarity, a different answer to the question of whether he wanted to get started on his life after football.

“If I were to be drafted I would have had more confidence of a much longer career in the NFL,” Sicko said. “I have to look at my life and decide what will make me the happiest. And the thing that will make me the happiest now and in the long run is to pursue my education.”

After getting his New Hampshire degree this May, Sicko plans to get a post-graduate degree or two in history, and become a history teacher or professor. And, yes, he knows he could have put off his education.

There you have it — Sicko told his agent to tell teams that called “thanks but no thanks” to their offers. He’s hanging up the cleats for grad school. Here’s the deal: if Sicko’s dream is to become a history teacher, then I can’t argue with him. But if he ever had dreams of playing in the NFL, just because he wasn’t drafted doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be able to live his dream. Antonio Gates is one of the best tight ends in the NFL and he went undrafted. Steelers linebacker and Defensive Player of the Year in 2008 was undrafted. Same with Kurt Warner, West Welker, London Fletcher, Herm Edwards, Priest Holmes, Tony Romo, and recently selected Hall of Famer John Randle. I’m not saying it would have been easy for Sicko to make it in the NFL but the reality is he wasn’t that far off as an undrafted free agent. I hope he doesn’t regret his choice.

Sources:
In a stunner, Scott Sicko says no thanks to NFL (Updated) [Albany Times-Union]
Player goes undrafted, says no thanks to teams [Pro Football Talk]

Raiders Al Davis Gets His Combine Studs Bruce Campbell, Jacoby Ford

The Oakland Raiders shocked the football world by making what seemed to be very logical picks on the first two days of the draft. With their first-round pick, they selected Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain eighth overall. With their second-round pick, they chose Texas defensive tackle Lamarr Houston. Both moves seemed to indicate a desire by the Raiders to shore up their run defense because they also traded away LB Kirk Morrison, a player owner Al Davis seemed to blame for their shoddy run-stopping.

In addition to their solid draft picks the first two days, the Raiders acquired quarterback Jason Campbell from the Redskins. On a roster with JaMarcus Russell, Bruce Gradkowski, Kyle Boller, and Charlie Frye as the options at QB, Campbell seems like the best option. While making some strong moves that should improve the Raiders in the future, you knew they couldn’t go the entire draft without making some typical Al Davis selections.

Much like they did last year by taking bust Darrius Heyward-Bey 7th overall, the Raiders went with back-to-back combine speedsters in the 4th round. With pick number 106, the Raiders chose Maryland offensive tackle Bruce Campbell. Campbell created a buzz at the combine by running a 4.85 40-yard dash, posting 34 reps of 225lbs on the bench press, and measuring out with the longest arms of any tackle at 36 inches. People joked he would be a lock to go to Oakland and they were right, only the Raiders took Campbell at a reasonable spot in the fourth round, not the first.

Two picks after drafting Campbell, the Raiders selected Clemson WR Jacoby Ford. Ford was another combine stud, running the fastest 40 time of any player, a 4.28. Ford’s small at 5’8″ and 180lbs and he didn’t produce huge numbers at Clemson, but he is a speedster. Both Campbell and Ford were typical Al Davis, speed/athletic player picks. The good news for Raiders fans is at least Davis took them in the fourth-round where it’s a lower risk. Translation, they didn’t embarrass themselves as much as we thought they would.

Lawrence Taylor Got Hammered on His Draft Day

30 years ago, the NFL Draft wasn’t nearly as popular as it is now. Now, it spans three days and has become almost a holiday for football fans. But back in 1981, there weren’t green rooms and 24/7 TV coverage of the event, so when North Carolina linebacker Lawrence Taylor was a top prospect, it’s not like he went to NYC for the special day. He told SI how he spent his time instead and it’s typical LT:

I’m sure that’s exactly what the Giants wanted to hear when they made LT their franchise player on defense. Obviously the pick couldn’t have been better for the Giants, but damn, is that vintage LT or what? 41 beers??? My goodness.

Sources:
LT’s Draft Memory: 41 Beers [SI Hot Clicks]

Disappointing Draft Night for Clausen

The NFL Draft is always exciting for young players who are fresh out of college. But for Jimmy Clausen, the quarterback from Notre Dame, it just plain sucked.

Clausen was predicted by many people to be a first-round draft pick, with experts saying he was the second best QB coming into the draft behind Sam Bradford. Bradford was the first overall pick, selected by the St. Louis Rams as predicted. But I think the most upsetting part of the night for Clausen had to be the announcement that the Denver Broncos had selected Tim Tebow as the 25th overall pick. I’m guessing that Jimmy had to be stunned. Clausen did have a year of eligibility remaining but he chose to leave South Bend and boy, that has to be haunting him now.

Notre Dame hasn’t been very successful with their QB’s being top ten draft picks lately. Remember, Brady Quinn was projected to be a top ten pick but instead he fell into the 20’s before getting drafted by the Browns. But now Clausen is ending up in the second-round, which will be a blow to his confidence (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the kid is pretty cocky) and his pocketbook. But, what will be considered a lose for the South Bend quarterback, can still be a win for LBS fans. Since he was not drafted last night, that means Ochocinco’s prize for predicting the team that would draft Clausen is still up for grabs. All I can say is that I don’t this as such a bad thing, maybe Clausen needed to be knocked off his pedestal before he could learn to play in the NFL.

Sources:
Clausen, Broncos come up short [ESPN]