Imagine a freakish athlete of Randy Moss’ caliber of skills as a left tackle but with the charisma of a veteran QB and the party habits of Manziel. A GM wouldn’t know whether to hug him or hit him.
What is 2014’s Writer’s Project?
This year’s RSPWP is a different take on team building. I will have 15-20 written scenarios based on true NFL stories provided to me from current and former NFL employees (scouts, players, and consultants). In each scenario, the participating writer is the general manager of an NFL team has a decision to make. Each scenario will have at least two different writers. I will post the writers’ responses and the actual outcome of the case study (if applicable).
GM Scenario No.3: The Freak Getting Freaky
You drafted a left tackle No.1 overall last year who is an absolute specimen. He’s so gifted athletically that he could probably play tight end in the NFL. Imagine a big and ripped Bruce Smith, but bigger, stronger, and faster—yeah, that rare.
He earned one of the highest grades that your scouts have ever given to a player. He’s a freak of nature.
He also played at a university where the athletic program—especially the football team—ran the college town. If you’ve seen the movie Varsity Blues, imagine the story tailored for a college team and college town. This left tackle was a hard partier and the pre-draft investigation didn’t have to dig too deep to discover his proclivity for the festivity.
What’s equally unusual about this player is that despite his wild times, there was no evidence of drug use, alcohol dependency, drunk driving, fights, or violence against women. Unlike your veteran middle linebacker, he doesn’t take photos of his conquests in mid-act and show them to the guys in the locker room. And unlike the team’s cornerback he was never suspected of using the date rape drug.
This player is a handsome, intelligent, charismatic guy who likes to go to bars, drink a few, and be around women. The problem is that as good as he’s been on the field as a rookie he has been a frustrating pain in the ass for these reasons, too.
He has fallen asleep in four meetings and there were two occasions in training camp where the team thinks he snuck out to party all night. However, he’s such a quick thinker and charmer that he talked his way out of further investigation into the matter. The guy could be a con man.
This stud tackle in his NFL debut shut down a future Hall of Fame pass rusher at his peak like the guy was fringe player. He’s not a team captain, but the players respond to him like one—even the veterans. This would be great if not for the fact that he nearly missed a flight for a road game last year because he couldn’t find the keys to his car.
For frame of reference about missed meetings and flights, one of the most dangerous players in the NFL recently saw his relationship with his team (an organization that has appeared in four Super Bowls (winning two) during the past 15 years) deteriorate because he didn’t plan his drive to accommodate a snowstorm and he arrived 45 minutes late to the facility. A few weeks later he was cut.
This rookie has that same kind of freakish ability as this aforementioned star and the potential to become a great leader. But after this first year of dominance followed by partying, the coaches don’t know whether they want to hit him or hug him (sometimes both).
The only thing keeping this player from becoming a national superstar the fact your team is a small market organization. If you were in New York, he’d already be a major problem. However, it won’t be long before his enjoyment of the excess could hurt you.
Although he has shown the judgment at college and this year to avoid incidents that would lead to arrest, the fact that he’s out late and indulging in this hard-partying lifestyle makes him a vulnerable target for others who might prey on him. If he misses time due to these behaviors it will ultimately hurt the team.
You’ve met with him once about his behavior, warning him about the dangers out there. You think he heard some of your points, but he still doesn’t seem ready to embrace it all.
You can’t have a member of the team’s security be his bodyguard and his veterans would roll their eyes at the idea of being this guy’s babysitter. However, you’re worried he’s one night away from missing a meeting, a plane, or a curfew.
What do you do? What’s your rationale for your decision? What are the consequences you’re willing to live with if your decision doesn’t work out?
The two writers assigned to this scenario last night will send me their response by next week. Interested in sharing your thoughts? Comment below.