When a team is putting together its draft board, the last question going through the minds of the general manager, head coach, scouts, and anyone else in that war room is “how well does this guy handle the media?”
No one cares. If they did, Terrell Owens and others would have been out of the league long ago.
But a lot of the media mouthpieces who didn’t like the fact that Ryan Mallett would not indulge them in discussing what he has already dismissed as laughable rumors about drug use are starting to trash him.
He didn’t give the media a soundbite to work with, so they’re going to take to Twitter and their op-ed pieces like a six-year old who had his toy taken from him at daycare and try to make Mallett sound like the worst guy on the planet. It’s been relatively subtle as of now, saying only that it will “hurt him” in the draft and that he “didn’t come across so well,” but it will get worse progressively.
Personally, I think the way he’s handled the media makes me like him even more. He’s not coming off as whiny or immature a la Ryan Leaf in 1998, just very confident in the way he perceives himself as a person and understands who he has to impress (the 32 NFL teams) and who he doesn’t (the hundreds of morons in the media).
“I can only control what I can control,” Mallett said during his combine press conference. “I don’t worry about things I can’t control. If people talk about them, obviously it’s going to keep circulating or whatever. I can’t control that. That’s why I don’t even want to talk about them because there’s nothing I can control about that.”
And isn’t that what every parents tells their children? Control what you can control and the rest will fall into place. Mallett cannot control the fact that people put out these rumors. If he knows they’re not true and can convince one of his 32 possible employers that they’re not true, then that’s all that matters.
Even after one reporter told Mallett the rumors wouldn’t stop until he addressed them, Mallett gave another perfect response:
“I understand that,” Mallett said. “I’m not going to talk about it. I’ll talk about it with the teams.”
So he is addressing it, just not with the media. And why not? Because it doesn’t matter what they think. The only thing that matters is what the teams think. Once he’s on a team and throws a couple touchdowns, these drug rumors won’t even be an afterthought.
Especially for a guy who has had one run-in with the law nearly two years ago for public intoxication — a college kid who likes to drink? Imagine that! — and nothing since.
No arrests, no failed drug tests, not even any suspicious pictures that I know of. The guy has been squeaky clean and played like a first-round prospect.
And unlike most, I don’t expect Mallett to make it out of the first round. If he’s as confident and strong with the teams as he is with the media, there is at least one team that will fall in love with him and snatch him up. In fact, the team that does grab him could very well be taking the best quarterback in this draft class.
We might not see it for a year or two, but I believe Mallett’s skill-set translates to the NFL better than any of these other guys — Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder, etc. — and he could emerge as a franchise quarterback sooner rather than later.
Then he’ll be a media darling regardless of what he says.