The Myth Of Character In The NFL

Yes, I picked this because it is Hines Ward's mug shot. - Handout

Why you shouldn't care about character when it comes to your favorite NFL team.

He is very high character, very hard working, extraordinarily competitive naturally, this guy.
Browns President Joe Banner on Barkevious Mingo
The thing that stood out to us was the kind of person that he is. He has outstanding character
Browns Head Coach Rob Chudinski on Mingo

char·ac·ter (krk-tr) n.
1. The combination of qualities or features that distinguishes one person, group, or thing from another.
2. A distinguishing feature or attribute, as of an individual, group, or category.
3. Genetics A structure, function, or attribute determined by a gene or group of genes.
4. Moral or ethical strength.
When Josh Gordon caught his touchdown against the Oakland Raiders, did you care he smoked weed?
When Phil Taylor flattened a Steeler running back, were you upset that he was kicked out of Penn State for fights?
When Jabaal Sheard sacked Ben Roethlisberger forcing a punt, where you seething about him throwing a man through a window when he was a Pittsburgh?

I'm going to guess no.

This time of year, if you hear the "character", it is usually followed with some sort of negative report. A player was arrested, or in fights, teammates didn't like him, coaches hated him, etc. Usually from someone telling you why a player is a risk.

Here is a secret: I don't care, and your favorite team probably doesn't care either.

When they do draft/sign a boy scout, they will shove that word right down your throat. Look above, Browns take Mingo and both the Head Coach and President drop the C-Bomb right off the bat. It is a great talking point, and it makes some fans feel better about the kind of team they cheer (and pay money to watch) for.

But what about when the Browns signed Desmond Bryant? A guy that in a drunken rampage ripped the door off his neighbors house? They tell you it was an isolated incident, and that they did the proper checking. Maybe they did, and hopefully it was a one time thing. But let's not be confused, they signed him for one reason; they signed him because he makes them better. A better defense and a better football team equals job security.

Same goes for Quentin Groves. Signed to a new deal, he trolls the streets for the affection of an undercover cop. Browns don't cut him, they just announce that they are aware of the situation and move on. His character won't matter as long as he is getting to the Quarterback. I'm sure it is a "one-time thing." How about Armonty Bryant? The 7th round selection was arrested after selling drugs to an uncover cop at practice! (where did he keep it?) Again, we get the line of they did their checking and he learned from the mistake.

Amazing that the Browns always seem to find the guys that have learned from their mistakes. Or it could be that the "learned from mistakes" line is what you say when you can't say "he is a great character guy". Either way, you are covered. The Browns aren't alone, every team does this same song and dance.

In the NFL, there's no longer time for extended "plans". Teams have come to expect quick turnarounds, and if it doesn't happen, people lose jobs. Whether or not you believe it, there isn't enough time to find 53 "good guys" to fill out a roster to compete with the "bad guys". You go that route, your ass will be fired two years in, and no one will care that your players are good people.

So the next time you get worked up over a players off the field issues, just remember, you may just be the only person that really cares.
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