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I’ve often wondered why some NFL General Managers choose to take a “holier than thou” approach to selecting hot college football talent when draft day rolls around.  For many, there is an apparent double-standard when it comes to character issues.  Once you’re in the league, character issues generally result in hand-slaps, a mild pilfering of a player’s bank account, and repeated chances to become a better citizen.  However, you have to get into the league first in order to get that sort of treatment.  So, should NFL General Managers just disregard character issues with the hot college prospects?  I believe so.

We’ve seen it countless times in recent years, including some players who will ultimately be destined for the Hall of Fame.

- In 1998, Randy Moss (the poster child for character issues) was touted as a high, 1st-round draft pick.  He ultimately fell to the 21st pick when the Minnesota Vikings chose him.

- In the 2009 draft, Percy Harvin reportedly had character issues and fell to the Minnesota Vikings at the 22nd pick.

- Also in 2009, Ray Maualuga, slated as a 1st-round draft pick fell to the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2nd-round.

- In 2010, LeGarrett Blount was projected as a low 1st-round draft pick or 2nd-round draft pick, but that was scuttled by his criminal behavior on the college football field.  He wasn’t even drafted.

- Also in 2010, Dez Bryant was widely considered a high 1st-round draft pick.  He fell to the Dallas Cowboys at the 27th pick in the draft.

It’s easy for me to sit here and spend NFL money like a drunken sailor on a three-day leave.  The reality is that they have the money to spend.  While it is certainly a crap-shoot as to whether or not college, even high school character issues will or won’t carry over to the NFL, it’s no more a crap-shoot than any other draft prospect.  Whether or not any college prospect will pan out as an NFL star is never guaranteed and determining factors are many, including health, talent, the entirety of a given team’s talent, and yes – character issues.

I wouldn’t dare suggest that character issues of physically gifted athletes is acceptable.  It’s not.  Criminal behavior should never be tolerated in society.  However, one thing is abundantly clear – the NFL is hardly a representation of society at-large, particularly when it comes to tacit tolerance of criminal behavior.  One need only look at the photo montage below to understand exactly what I’m talking about…

The bottom line is simply that the general managers and the league as a whole should dispense with the notion that they take “character issues” of football players seriously.  Token fines and occasional suspensions issued to existing NFL players for conduct policy violations are simply window-dressing.  They don’t deal with character issues seriously because they usually involve the most talented players in the league.  It would hurt the team’s and the league’s bottom-line.  When some NFL General Managers choose to apply a tougher standard to hot college prospects, they’re only hurting their own organizations.  Someone is going to take the next flawed NFL potential star.

They always do.  Sometimes, it’s a division or conference rival.

In the NFL society, it’s all about winning championships.  The weak action the league takes against its players when their behavior takes a criminal turn is a joke.   The league and its General Managers should probably just dispense with the notion that they truly care about these issues and take their “devil-may-care” attitude to the NFL drafts every year.  College football is chock-full of character issues candidates and we’ll see which teams take their chances soon enough.