“What? That’s crazy. He didn’t show up at all?
That was NFL analyst Steve Young’s reaction when he learned that Geno Smith, the QB of the New York Jets, had missed a mandatory meeting the night before a game — because he was at the movies. With his team on the West coast, Smith, in his own words, “got the times mixed up.” So although he didn’t purposely bail on his team, he also didn’t take the necessary steps to make sure he was there for them.
Young, who had a reputation as being a consummate professional and solid leader during his playing years, was flabbergasted that a QB could miss a film session — or any team-related activity.
But if you look at the scouting report for Smith, who has since been benched, the movie incident shouldn’t come as a surprise, and neither should the previous episode in which he cursed at a fan after a brutal loss.
These were just some of the findings from draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki:
“Not a student of the game. Nonchalant field presence — does not command respect from teammates and cannot inspire. Not committed or focused — marginal work ethic. Opted not to compete at the Senior Bowl and has approached offseason training as if he has already arrived… Needed to be coddled in college.”
Nawrocki was hugely criticized for the assessment. He was also, as it turned out, dead right. As he predicted, Smith was drafted too high, and has struggled in his position.
And while missing a meeting may not seem like a big deal, Young believes it’s a sign of a much bigger problem.
“Does this guy really have what it takes? We’re asking him to do some pretty complex things, and he can’t figure out a 3-hour time difference,” Young said.
He makes a compelling point — one that had been laid out a year and a half ago, if only the Jets had listened. Another of Nawrocki’s assessments is proving to be pretty accurate. While most of the sports media was singing the praises of Johnny Manziel, a QB drafted in the first round by the Cleveland Browns, Nawrocki alluded to a “sense of entitlement” and “prima-donna arrogance” that could seriously hamper his ability to perform. He also said Manziel had “suspect intangibles,” was “not a leader by example or known to inspire by his words,” and needed to adjust his “hard-partying lifestyle.”
It reminds me of a scenario where a job candidate has a great resume, but when the hiring manager reaches out to his references, either they won’t return the call, or worse, they do, but their assessment is littered with red flags. Manziel’s resume was brilliant — but the game isn’t played on paper, and the Browns might be starting to see that.
A few months into his rookie season, Manziel has thrown exactly one pass (which was incomplete), and has received a fine for making an inappropriate gesture to a fan. His career as a spokesperson, however is progressing much quicker, as he has endorsement deals with McDonald’s, Nissan, and Nike, and has graced the cover of Golf Digest. Great for Manziel, not so much for his team.
Now, it’s far too early to tell whether “Johnny Football” (his college nickname, which no longer seems fitting) will thrive in the NFL. But based on the amount of time he spends basking in the spotlight — time that could be spend honing his skills — I’d say the scouting report on him seems pretty accurate. Manziel has tremendous talent, but seems lacking in character.
On the flip side, there was a guy named Tom Brady who was selected #199th in the NFL draft. Despite an impressive career at Michigan, Brady was overlooked by most due to his skinny physique. However, one team — and a select few scouts — took notice. “Very poised and composed. Produces in big spots and in big games,” one report read. “Is not what you’re looking for in terms of physical stature, strength, arm strength and mobility, but he has the intangibles.”
There’s that word again, intangibles. Brady has them. He isn’t just a great athlete; he’s a leader, a teammate, and a student of the game. The Patriots took a chance on him because character matters. And yes, he certainly has his share of endorsements, but he also has a phenomenal work ethic, five AFC titles, and three Super Bowl rings.
And I’m willing to bet he always shows up for team meetings.