Asking An NFL Prospect If His Mother Is A Prostitute: Fair or Foul?
Remember last week when I wrote that the National Football League was the greatest show on Earth right now because it’s basically become one long year-round soap opera? Yeah, forget that. Because the latest story to emerge from the NFL is just a little too crazy to believe—even by soap opera standards.
According to a piece written by Yahoo! Sports columnist Michael Silver, it goes a little something like this: Prior to the NFL Draft last week, former college standout Dez Bryant was interviewed by a variety of different NFL teams. And because he was suspended for the second-half of the college season last fall due to a violation of NCAA policies, they asked him plenty of questions to gauge what type of person he is. He answered all of them, even when he probably didn’t want to. In particular, Miami Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland asked him one that ruffled his feathers. At least, momentarily.
Because Bryant is the product of a mother who had him when she was just 15 and because his mother’s served time in prison in the past on drug charges, Ireland felt the need to ask Bryant a question that could have sparked any number of reactions from the young football phenom: “Is your mother a prostitute?” To his credit, Bryant responded gracefully by telling Ireland that his mother isn’t a prostitute. And now? Well, Ireland is the one facing one very important question: “How could you?”
The NFL Draft is tricky business—and Jeff Ireland isn’t the only NFL GM asking idiotic questions. Silver says as much in his column by detailing a whole bunch of other ridiculous questions that were asked to NFL prospects prior to the Draft, including one particularly memorable one involving a 300-pound defensive lineman and a G-string (yikes!). But Ireland has come under attack since the column hit the ’net, and rightfully so.
For starters, even if Bryant’s mother is a prostitute, who cares? It doesn’t affect his ability to play football. Secondly, the loaded question could have triggered a much different reaction from Dez Bryant, namely one involving his fists and Ireland’s face. As a result, we’d be having a whole different argument today about Bryant and his ability to control himself, despite the fact that he was asked a question that, quite frankly, deserved a knuckle sandwich in return. And, third, if Ireland’s question is an indication of what NFL teams are allowed to ask NFL prospects, exactly what is considered out-of-bounds?
Listen, I don’t need an NFL expert to tell me that the NFL Draft isn’t an exact science to get the point here. I understand NFL teams invest millions of dollars into researching a bunch of 20-something-year-old prospects to decide who they will select, and that they need to do everything they can to make sure they’re selecting the player that’s right for them, hence the endless questions. Sometimes, there will be hard-to-ask questions, as well. That’s all good.
But the Dez Bryant/Jeff Ireland situation sets a terrible precedent. If you’re allowed to ask someone if their mother is a prostitute, what’s next? And what exactly does the answer prove anyway? That Dez Bryant is man enough to suppress every nerve in his body and not knock out the guy sitting across the table from him?
There are plenty of things that NFL teams need to know before they make a draft pick. Height? Weight? 40-meter time? Bench press? Even a few personal details and maybe a couple of hypothetical situations thrown in for good measure. After all, it’s basically a job interview—and a potential employer deserves to know a little bit about the person they’re thinking of hiring. But when it comes to asking a 21-year-old kid about his mother, it’s gone too far.
It’s disgusting, it’s insulting and, above all, it makes the NFL look bad. No question about it.
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