As the depositions continue in Colin Kaepernick’s collusion case against the NFL, it’s impossible to predict whether his lawyers will uncover a smoking gun to prove collusion.
But it’s obvious Kaepernick is the victim of one thing – NFL Groupthink.
The NFL is not a bastion of original thinkers who go against the grain. They tend to play it safe and reach the same conclusions, whether they obviously collude or not.
Exhibit A is Tom Brady. No GM in league thought he was worth a flyer in the first five rounds of the 2000 draft. Bobby Beathard was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and he didn’t draft Brady even though his coach in San Diego at the time, Mike Riley, lobbied him to take Brady. And Beathard was more of an out-of-the-box thinker than most NFL executives.
The best exhibit this year is UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen. He won’t fall out of the first round because he has too much raw talent, although nobody can predict how good a college quarterback will be in the NFL.
Still, NFL GMs and scouts have raised questions not about his talent, but his off-the-field demeanor.
He is viewed as having a sense of entitlement, of being brash and a jerk, of not being committed to football and even suffering from the sin of having affluent parents.
The positive things about him tend to get ignored. The New York Daily News this week revisited a story this week from Matt Hayes of Bleacher Report two years ago.
Rosen’s high school team was scheduled to play a game in Hawaii, and each player had to come up with $1,500 to make the trip even though some were not as affluent as Rosen and couldn’t afford it.
So Rosen met with local businessmen to pitch a discount-card plan to raise money for the players who couldn’t afford it. He never told the players he did it and asked his high school coach to keep it quiet, even though the coach apparently told Hayes about it.
His high school coach, Jason Negro, said, “He’s a different bird. I’ve never met anyone like him.’’
The NFL doesn’t like different.
And he speaks his mind.
Like the comment, “OK, raise the SAT requirements at Alabama and see what kind of team they have.’’
I looked it up. Not surprisingly, UCLA students have higher SAT scores than Alabama students have, although it wasn’t the most diplomatic thing to say.
And he noted it is difficult to play football in college and be a real student.
“Football and school don’t go together,’’ he told Hayes.
Then there was the “I want to own the world’’ comment.
In a recent interview with ESPN the Magazine, Rosen backtracked on some of his past comments.
“Starting off, I was pretty arrogant,’’ he said. “You only get a first chance to make a first impression, and I made the wrong one.’’
And he’s playing the NFL pre-draft game, flying across country this week to visit the New York Giants and Jets.
He also said he regretted putting the F word on his golf hat.
Still, he said he’s the best quarterback in the draft and that he wants to be the winningest quarterback of all time. If Brady gets six Super Bowl rings, he’ll aim for seven.
He doesn’t lack for self confidence. But then aren’t quarterbacks supposed to be self confident?
“I want to be great in everything I do,’’ he said.
Nobody knows how good a quarterback Rosen will be. Judging how a college QB will fare in the pros is one of the toughest tasks in sports.
And if he fails, the naysayers will blame his personality, although they can’t bury him the way they’ve buried Kaepernick.
If Rosen turns out to be as good as he thinks he is, he’ll be a breath of fresh air in the staid NFL.
He is the most interesting player in this draft.