If you look around this site you will see a ton of hype for the draft and some offseason optimism that the Bills will actually be major players in free agency for the first time in a very very long time. But I'm not here to talk about that. After reading Joe P's post on Cam Newton and his lack of character or lack of ethics which ever way you take it (by the way Joe P I agree with you) I thought I would take a look around the league and take a look at some standout players and their ability to keep a clean image or their inability to keep a clean image:
Great Character, Great Player:
1.)Peyton Manning - Despite being quite possibly the best QB to ever play the game, never, ever have we seen Peyton's name attached to anything unethical, anything media hypable (if thats a word), or anything to put his team behind the eight ball. All you ever hear about this guy is good thing and about how good of a leader he is. To me Peyton is the textbook you study from when you want to draft a legitimate QB in this league, spends offseasons with his practice squad receivers to develop continuity and relationships that translate to good football. Peyton Manning is the epitimy of a great athlete let alone a great football player.
2.)Drew Brees - Another great example of a guy who puts his team first, and plays the game he loves because he loves it not just to make money. This is a guy who sat back and watched a team basically give up on him (San Diego) draft a QB very high in the draft to sit behind him and did he get rattled or go do something stupid; nope, he just signed in a city in absolute turmoil, helped rebuild the image of the city and won a superbowl against one of the best QB's to ever win the game. Drew Brees breathes character and is another player in which you just cannot ignore.
3.)Adrian Peterson - I didn't want to just sit here and rifle of QB's because really thats not what this post is about it's about all players at all positions. Adrian Peterson sat at the draft and watched as he fell pick after pick finally to #7 with the Minnesota Vikings. This guys did not pout or did not get angry, he just came into to camp kept his head down and got the job done. This is a kid who had every excuse to be a reject, lost both his brothers 1 to a drunk driver and the other right before the draft combine and yet still keep a great image and keeps his head up. an example of just how much character Adrian Peterson has, I was in Minnesota to see the Bills play the Vikings this year, it just so happened that my friend had booked us to stay at the same hotel the Minnesota VIkings stay at on game nights, so naturally we grabbed some beers and watched the players come in, and no player got more of an ovation then Adrian, so what does he do, he takes his bags upstairs and comes back down and signs jerseys and footballs for all the young kids there to see him. CHARACTER!!!
Im sure there are a ton of other players but I don't want to bore you, I want to make a point! (Jerry Rice, Steve Young etc...)
Great Player, Minimal Character:
1.) Eli Manning - Its funny how an apple can fall quite far from a tree with ELi not only did Eli refuse to report to San Diego and forced there hand in making a trade with the Giants he came in to the league and was less then stellar. Since then I guess you can say that Eli has smartened up the guy does have a superbowl ring and constantly gets the job done with less then stellar receivers but he still throws a ton of picks and show immaturity when he wines after incomplete passes and such. He's a good player but not one I believe, I personally would draft. Not reporting just screams baby to me. Hes a good leader no question about it but doesn't have that stand out character that most teams covet.
2.) Brett Favre - I know I know, but just hear me out. 5 Years ago Brett would have been on the list above but it just goes to show ya that when a player puts himself before his team bad things will happen, I felt for Favrewhen Green Bay decided to make the switch to Aaron Rodgers but since then Brett has been on a downward spiral and almost qualifies for the list below but regardless Brett is one amazing player and will be in the hall of fame, and if it weren't for his lack of character he legacy would defiantly live on and people today would still be talking about how good Breet Favre was.
3.) Terrell Owens - This was a guy destined for huge things in the NFL, had Jerry Rice as a mentor won a superbowl with the 49'ers and was just turning into the NFL's greatest receiver, but he requests a trade, then basically gets his career back on track and then again his lack of character gets him in trouble, he gets traded again and what do ya know his character kills his team and he gets released and the story goes on, a guy with immense talent but his lack of character has killed his career. Not a guy you build with.
Had the chance to be great but lack of character killed it:
1.) Vince Young - Every one thought this guy would be the next big thing, after watching that BCS championship with Texas against a very very good USC team Vince Young carries the Longhorns to the championship, yeahhhh. But what has happened since then well he was caught with a gun, was accused of thinking of killing himself now he has played a huge part in the firing of the longest tenured coach in the NFL and will soon be a free agent. I don't know about you but I am real happy I'm not a Titans fan right now.
2.) Plaxico Burress - The guy wins a superbowl, is on top of the world, what does he do he shoots himself in the leg, with an unregistered weapon and costs his team at a chance to win back to backs. Enough said
My point is.
Look at the guys in the first category, constantly winning, constantly improving because they work hard, they strive to get better and make their teams better and it's because they have high character which in turn leads to high work ethic which in turn leads to great results. Not because they want to get paid, because they want to win it's important to them it's integral to them. Combining excellent character with excellent athletic ability isn't something that happens all the time but it is something you can look for, and it's something you must find if you want to win in this league. Drafting a guy with a troubled past has it benefits guys do turn it around (Ray Lewis, hes the ony one I can think of right now) but very seldom does this happen, so taking a chance on Cam Newton is not something I embrace, it's not something i suggest the Bills do. If a guy can't keep his sleight clean in college when he supposedly has no money, how much trouble can a guy get into when he has millions and millions of dollars at his disposal. (i.e. Michael Vick)
Im not saying don't draft Cam Newton because hes not psychically able to be a QB in the NFL because I know he is, I'm saying you don't draft Cam Newton because hes not mentally ready or mature enough to be a leader or a face of a franchise in the NFL. (basically adding to Joe P's post)