As of late, there has been harsh criticism of the former Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett by ESPN, Yahoo, CBS, and many others. There are some issues I have with the critiquing that I believe may be the result of rural southern prejudice aka redneck discrimination. One problem with the criticism is the use of quotes from unnamed sources to ridicule players. Another is that some players seem to get a free pass for similar problems that supposedly kept Mallett from moving up in the NFL Draft.
A recent article by Jason Cole was an example of ignorance and cowardice. Near the beginning of the article, Cole describes Mallett’s selection as the 74th pick as “a stunning drop for a quarterback at one time considered a strong first-round candidate.”
Yes at one time, a while ago, Mallett was considered a strong first round candidate, but a person would have to be flat out ignorant of NFL Draft news to know that there was a strong chance going in that Mallett would not be a first round pick. Even ESPN floated around the speculation recently that the Patriots were interested in Mallett as a backup and Pro Football Weekly projected him as a second to third round pick around a month ago. Where have you been Jason?
Further on in Mr. Cole’s writing, he began to ridicule Mallett. Excuse me, correction, his multiple unnamed sources ridiculed Mallett. Here are excerpts from his writing which exemplifies that:
“His decision not to address the rumors publicly has been seen as a sign of immaturity by several NFL team executives.
…an NFL general manager said earlier this month. “I can’t see him standing up in front of a team and being taken seriously when he spoke.””
As the article continues it gets worse. Cole quoted an NFC assistant coach that praised Mallett for his throwing abilities, but then the unnamed coach went on to take cheap shots at him:
“Just an odd kid. You talk to him and you get this feeling like he just doesn’t understand what this is all about. Nice enough kid, but just kind of clueless and goofy. It’s like he’s in his own world,”
Cole did go on to quote Bill Belichick and John Gruden in which they complimented Mallett’s talents. But those quotes had names listed with them. The use of unnamed sources to bash someone is trash journalism and pure cowardice. Jason Cole should either have the courage to tell his own opinion from gathering information off the record or leave it out completely, but he should not hide behind quotes of unknowns like a coward.
For example, Nolan Narwocki harshly critiqued Mallett in the Pro Football Weekly 2011 Draft Preview guide like he did many other draft prospects, but he took credit for the criticism and did not pass it off in the writing as quotes from mystery men. And I understand unnamed sources are used frequently in today’s sports news world, but when it becomes ridiculing without a name added to the quote then it is just trash.
The other problem I have is that Cam Newton gets a free pass from the press when Mallett obviously does not. Cam has been avoiding questions on his alleged pay for play scandal since last fall. But no one wants to concentrate on his shadiness since he is supposedly the chosen one for NFL stardom. When ESPN’s Chris Fowler interviewed him in December, the session was a complete joke mostly due to Cam’s answers or the lack there of.
One of many questions that Newton avoided answering was around the 6:00 minute mark of the interview video on ESPN. Chris Fowler asked Cam Newton, “so the reports are untrue that with them you had conversations about Auburn payments?” He gave a very elaborate response that did not come anywhere close to answering the question. The whole interview was that way. Even at one point Newton was getting so carried away around the 2:44 mark that he starts talking about “laughing and giggling” with Cecil. Watch the video for yourself.
But Oh the love affair with Newton continues in the media and the haters continue to pounce on Mallett. For example, here are some excerpts from a column written by Mike Freeman on CBSSports.com in which he badgered the Arkansan quarterback and of course so did other unnamed sources:
“I don't think Mallett can help it… he proceeded to act like he was God's gift to quarterbacking with the media. He did this knowing that everyone was watching, and still Mallett didn't care.
Mallett has first-round talent and a third-round head. The drug rumors, the attitude -- it's why he dropped in this draft like BP's stock after the Gulf spill. The Boston Globe reported that two league executives said Mallett admitted in pre-draft meetings to marijuana use. "We didn't believe him," one of those executives said.
They didn't believe him meaning they didn't think he was telling them everything.”
Well some of what Freeman wrote was his own opinion, but he still used quotes of unnamed executives reported by the Boston Globe. I would think with him being this harsh of Mallett then he must be critical of Newton. Oh wait, here is how he goes on about his darling Cam Newton:
“…the conspiracy theorists wonder why I like Cam Newton despite his troubled past, and not Mallett. Newton did make mistakes but there are three major differences… Newton's alleged stealing of a laptop and dismissal from the University of Florida were indeed problematic but in interviews with several personnel men, Newton seemed genuinely contrite about his mistakes. Mallett wasn't as convincing in his discussions with teams. Frankly, some of them just didn't think he was a good guy.”
Mr. Freeman does not point out something when he mentions Newton’s “alleged stealing of the laptop.” Cam threw the laptop out of his window when the police were coming for it and then claimed he did not know it was stolen. You would have to be a moron to believe that excuse. If he did not know it was stolen, then why did he throw it out of the window? Oh, I guess I’m just being a “conspiracy theorist”. Anyways, that’s just “alleged”, but I guess “Mallett wasn’t as convincing”… code for he couldn’t BS as well as Cam. And some “just didn’t think he was a good guy.” But it’s perfectly okay for Newton to be shady? Mike Freeman get real.
He continues on to take another shot at Mallett:
“…Mallett's alleged drug issues may be simple, or they may not be. We don't know. As the Globe reported, some teams think they aren't.
…Newton went first overall and Carolina's checking into Newton's background was so extensive the FBI would be proud. The fact Mallett fell into the third despite having perhaps the most pro-ready arm says a great deal. In fact, it says everything.”
Yeah Mike we don’t know about Mallett’s drug issues…“may be simple”… “they may not be”… “some teams think they aren’t.” Way to go philosopher Freeman. This may be simple. It may not be to you. I think it’s not. The media blitz of demeaning Mallett says a great deal. In fact, it says everything.
I think many sports media pundits find it hard to believe that a rural southerner that talks in the manner that Ryan Mallet does is bright enough to lead the offense of an NFL team. Various critics continue to act as though he would have problems leading an NFL team even though there have been numerous former teammates state differently.
Otherwise, many of the insults make Mallett sound as a hillbilly on drugs that no one would take serious in an NFL huddle. I would not be surprised if Mel Kiper and Todd McShay were downplaying him so he would drop low enough for New England to pick him. In contrast, most pundits are so in love with Cam Newton’s athleticism as well as bamboozled by his doublespeak that they do not bother to criticize his character.
In my opinion, Mallett does need to mature and handle himself better in front of the press. He has already begun by having a good showing with John Gruden on ESPN in which he got to show off some of his football smarts. The real test will be if he can deal with the pressure put on him by the media and still perform when the times comes. There is a chance that he may not, but the repeated bashing is not necessary. Well, that’s my opinion, not from some unnamed source, and you can quote me on that.
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