Finding The Faults … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Within the next week or so, the Pro Day workouts around the country will fall to the wayside and the personnel types of all NFL teams will return to home base and begin the process of putting together the final stages of their board for the NFL Draft.

It’s hard to imagine that any NFL team is without a good grasp at this point of what they need, what’s available and who they like. Over the next couple weeks, it’s about crossing the t and dotting the i on the 100 players or so they may consider draftable.

That collection of names has been winnowed from the 300 players or so they started with back in the fall. That 100 or so will likely be sliced down even more in the next weeks to half that number. If they are surrounded by a good operation and talented people, NFL decision makers have a pretty good idea of who will be available when their turn on the clock comes, not just in the first round, but second, third and fourth as well.

Part of the editing process that will narrow the focus even further will come with a final check through the security reports, psychological tests and the like, making sure they know everything they can about the talent pool.  

As they have their final evaluation meetings, they will talk about those players who’ve had legal/social/ family/health/psychological problems and they will put the potential of each one on the scales of what their problem might be, and whether that can be balanced by what they can contribute.

If the bad stuff outweighs what they might be able to provide on the field, then they’ll be eliminated from consideration, shuffled to one side of the board in what one NFL team calls “the sin bin.”

This process is much more complicated and diverse these days. Facebook, Twitter, My Space and the rest of cyberspace have left little pieces of everyone available to be found, especially young adults who have grown up with the social media being an everyday part of their lives.

I know of one NFL team that since the first of the year has had three people in their personnel department do nothing all day but surf the web. Just about every team has one person whose duties each day are to visit the web and collect data on players, even coaches, officials, other team’s owners.

This is time when the focus of the search engines and their tools is to dig around every nook and cranny and produce pieces of a prospect’s life. Stitch those together and evaluators have the situation that Chiefs GM Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley seek – they want to make the intangibles something tangible.

If that seems intrusive, then you haven’t been in the job market lately. College seniors graduating and applying for employment are finding out that athletes are not the only ones who sometimes leave bread crumbs on the road to growing up.

Recently, a Washington think tank did research revealing that hiring professionals are doing some form of an Internet background check 79 percent of the time these days. And, those hiring managers used the research from the web to take negative action 70 percent of the time.

Wonder what the percentage on possible NFL draft choices would be? It’s 100 percent of the teams doing the checks, but it’s doubtful 70 percent of those with a troubled past don’t find their way into the NFL.

Two examples of very bad player behavior have made headlines in the last few days, not among potential draft picks, but from those already in the NFL.

WARRANT ISSUED FOR BUCCANEERS CB AQIB TALIB – the former KU defensive back and first-round choice of Tampa Bay in 2008 has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The charge is second-degree felony punishable by five to 20 years in prison. Also charged was his mother Okolo Talib. The incident involved Talib firing a gun at his sister’s boyfriend in the continuation of an incident that began earlier in the day.

It’s not the first brush with the law for Talib, as his trail of misdeeds, fights, arguments and arrests goes back to his college days in Lawrence.

DALLAS WR DEZ BRYANT DOESN’T PAY HIS BILLS: Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant was selected in the first round last year, despite concerns about the young man’s maturity and background, including his suspension for his senior season at Oklahoma State for lying to the NCAA.

Bryant has not run afoul of law enforcements, but he’s left on the table a string of debts that he apparently refuses to pay. First, a New York-based company filed a civil suit against him for $246,000 he owes on jewelry. That brought into the light another lawsuit filed against him by a Texas jeweler and ticket broker saying Bryant owed in excess of $600,000 in jewelry, tickets to sporting events and a personal loan. That spending spree began when he was a sophomore in college. Now comes a story out of Stillwater, Oklahoma that Bryant owes more than $5,000 in rent that he refuses to pay. That’s pushed the money in question to $850,000.

Both Talib and Bryant had major strikes against their character when they were being evaluated for the NFL Draft. They were red-flagged by many teams and removed from draft boards. Still, Talib and Bryant were considered talented enough players that the Buccaneers and Cowboys gambled first round picks on them.

So far as we know at this point, the Chiefs under Pioli/Haley have been unwilling to increase the odds against them by drafting players of questionable character. Some may have been of questionable ability, but then that’s the gamble that comes with every draft choice.

It will be interesting to see how long the Chiefs continue to step away from the bad eggs. It’s actually easier for rebuilding teams to be particular because they have so many needs in so many positions that there’s always somebody else to select rather than the troubled soul.

As the roster improves and teams win games, the focus narrows, needs become easier to identify and decision makers become less picky. If there’s a solid foundation in place, they are willing to take a chance that the rest of the team will rise above any controversy that may come its way.

The Chiefs are not in a position yet where one player will make the difference. The fact is it’s never just one player, not in a game where there are 22 players on the field for every snap of the ball. That’s invariably where organizations stub their toe – dumbing down their standards to get a special physical talent who is going to push the team over the top.

As they go through their last round of evaluations, the Chiefs and 31 other teams should head the caution signs in their dossiers and go in the opposite direction.

One Response to “Finding The Faults … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • March 30, 2011  - RW says:

    A red flag on one’s resume` is one thing, a PATTERN of poor judgment/behavior is another. The PATTERN guys almost always bring their problems with them because as an old personnel guy once told me, “People change, but rarely”.

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