The NFL draft season is here and teams are making choices about which type of players to add to their rosters, both for their skills on the field and their character off the field. In an episode of SCI TV, Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News discusses The Dallas Cowboys’ recent acquisition of Greg Hardy given increased attention on off-field conduct in the NFL. The Cowboys’ signing comes less than a year after the Ray Rice scandal brought media scrutiny, once again, to behavior off the field and the role the League and teams might have in addressing those behaviors.
Vinnie Iyer on Talent vs. Character
Vinnie Iyer has been covering the NFL for many years and sees the current character and off-field news as part of a much larger mentality in the league where talent often trumps behavior.
“Guys with more talent seem to have more leeway off the field,” Vinnie Iyer said. “I don’t think that’s right, but that’s the reality of the business of getting talented players. It makes the hypocritical things we hear about the NFL make a lot of sense.”
There can however, be a difference between public perception and reality within the league. By focusing on the negative, figures like Ray Rice and others garner lots of media attention while other players’ positive actions go unnoticed.
“Guys just doing normal things and being good people, that doesn’t interest us,” Vinnie Iyer said.
Character’s Effect on Draft Decisions
So how does character fit into a team’s draft calculus? There are some teams that don’t want to take on high risk players, while others like The Dallas Cowboys give second chances and are willing to manage more off-field risk. For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, that choice could be looming with Jameis Winston.
“You have to have value on the field to overcome these bad things,” Vinnie Iyer said. “Jameis Winston is going to be a lightning rod figure. Is the NFL going to empower him to do something a little bit more?”
Minimum Character Standard?
In the future Vinnie Iyer sees some version of a minimum character standard for players in the NFL, but teams will always have a choice to make.
“I think it’s on the league to have a little more defined policy, be a little more in front of it, not be reactionary,” Vinnie Iyer said. “Fans have to be involved too, then we’ll see the policies change.”