News item: Indianapolis owner Jimmy Irsay says the Colts wanted to work out quarterback Robert Griffin III and were denied by the quarterback's agent.
Meaning of news item: Absolutely nothing.
I ask this question all the time, and I'm still waiting for someone to come up with a good answer: Think of the last time a coach or GM went to the podium after a first-round pick and said: "We were going to take Player X, but Player X didn't cooperate with us during the time leading up to the draft, so we downgraded him and took Player Y.'' Or any story like that. It never happens. An agent denying permission for a player to work out privately for a team happens quite often, and I've never once heard that as the reason a team didn't take that player.
Imagine if, 20 years from now, Irsay or current Colts GM Ryan Grigson (wherever he is then) is asked, "Why'd you really take Andrew Luck or RG3?'' Do you think there's any chance either man will say it was because Luck or Griffin wouldn't work out privately for the Colts? They'd be laughed out of the league, if they're still in it.
I understand the logic in wanting a private workout with Griffin. Grigson was ill on the day of Baylor's pro day and couldn't attend. Of course he would want to see Griffin up close and personal, and live. But now he can't. He'll have to watch tape and spend time with Griffin that won't include watching him play live. If Grigson needs to see Griffin throw 65 passes against air to make the decision for him, he's not much of a talent evaluator.
Teams want every last bit of information to help them make momentous decisions like this one. But what I'm telling you is the Colts will be able to decide on their first pick very comfortably without seeing Griffin for an hour without anyone else around. Teams do it all the time. The Redskins, who will draft Griffin if the Colts take Luck as expected, won't work out RG3 before the draft either, Adam Schefter reported Tuesday.
Now, as for why Ben Dogra, the agent for Griffin, decided to not allow Griffin to work out: He's dealing from a position of strength. What more do you really need to see out of Griffin? This isn't a kid fighting to disprove some impression about him that's on the NFL street. This is a player who is mature, exceedingly talented, with few nits to pick on him. I can't see the benefit of allowing him to throw for X number of teams anyway. If a players wants to do it -- and Luck did work out privately with Indianapolis -- that's his prerogative. But it's not a must. And it won't have a thing to do with who Indy picks 23 days from now.
Onto your email:
YES, I SAW IT. "You missed the most important part of the Jimmy Buffett Concert! Coach Payton was on stage during one of his songs!!!-- From Jordan, New Orleans
He plays a mean bongo.
HE JUST MIGHT BE. "Isn't Ryan Tannehill just this year's Blaine Gabbert? Do you really think he's worth a first-round pick, not to mention a top five pick? Also, I don't understand why St. Louis isn't banging down Cleveland's door to make a deal for the fourth pick to get Justin Blackmon. Are the Rams just not that impressed with him or are they banking that he'll fall to them?''-- From Ash, Cincinnati
The stats say that about half of the first-round picks over the past 20 years are washouts, or just OK. So it's possible that Tannehill is that. But when a guy I respect, Greg Cosell, says Tannehill's a better passer on the run than Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, and he's going to be playing for a team (Cleveland or Miami, most likely) that could have him on the run on a bunch of his throws, I like that. But we'll see. Re: Blackmon, be careful about him. I like him too, but he's not nearly the size of the franchise big receivers playing now -- Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald.
BUFFALO HAS A MESSAGE FOR NEW ORLEANS. "To all the Saints fans: What a great lesson you are trying to convey. Cheating, lying and hurting others shouldn't be punished if it MAY affect your season. Where is the line here? The Saints organization admitted wrongdoing and now has to face the penalties. Just because those penalties are severe doesn't mean they aren't correct. So if you got a slap on the wrist and a stern talking to, what would stop others from emulating this bounty program?''-- From Chuck, Buffalo
Chuck, if I may speak for the fans of that team down south, I don't think the problem is with the Saints being sanctioned significantly. I think the problem comes with the severity of the sanction. No coach in NFL history has ever been suspended for a year for violating league rules. Bill Belichick got zero games for Spygate, and Sean Payton gets 16 for the bounty scandal. It seems over the top to me. As I've written, I think eight games would have been fair.
QUESTION OF THE CENTURY. "I watch the Jon Gruden specials with the quarterbacks also but mostly because I am a draft junkie. I wonder though if Gruden is so good working with young QB's, why didn't he develop any in the 10 years he was a head coach in the league?''-- From Jeremiah Stadt, Jacksonville
Complex answer. Gruden didn't have many premier, highly drafted quarterbacks to work with. Remember, he cultivated veterans like Rich Gannon and Brad Johnson instead of taking young quarterbacks high in drafts and then working to get them to be long-term starters. Except for third-rounder Chris Simms, Gruden had mostly lesser guys to work with -- Shaun King, Bruce Gradkowski, Luke McCown and a few others I'm forgetting. That's not to say he's a great quarterback coach, by any means. It's just to say he didn't fail with a couple of first-rounders.
IRELAND CHECKS IN ON THE SAINTS. "Tell you what bothers me about the Saints and the bounty scandal -- I can't make up my mind whether it was rewarding big legal defensive hits (hard but within the rules) or actively encouraging players to break the rules and deliver illegal hits. What do the statistics show? Were the Saints penalized for late hits, unnecessary roughness etc. more than other teams during the time period that a bounty system was in operation? If not, then either a) players didn't break the rules as a result of the bounties and the sanctions imposed on the Saints are excessive b) officials for Saints games during the bounty period were asleep at the wheel or c) every team was doing it so there's no statistical anomaly for Saints games.''-- From Conor Malone, Donegal, Ireland
Conor, it's a good question -- and the stats don't show the Saints breaking any records or leading the league in unnecessary roughness calls or late hits on the quarterback in those three seasons. That's not the point to me. The point is the NFL discovered evidence that there was an active plan, the league alleges, to try to knock some players out of the game by injuring them. Whether the players actually got knocked out of the game is significant, but not the whole story. If there's a plan in place to reward a player for knocking foes out of the game, then the league needs to come down hard, whether the player actually got knocked out of the game or not.
NO, I DON'T. "Love your column -- particularly as you seem to appreciate the longer term implications of actions. In this instance, the crippling of the Saints 2012 Super Bowl hopes. Given the fan backlash, do you see political investigations / responses in this election year? Do you see independent investigations of other teams' programs to mitigate the punishment meted out to Saints fans? Do you think Goodell (and the NFL) will regret his Draconian penalties? Do you think the competitive imbalance of removing a Super Bowl contender will taint the season? I am not a Saints' fan. I am, however, extremely concerned by the possible long term consequences of the punishment meted out by the commissioner.''-- From Bob, New York City
Join the club. I don't believe the NFL's job is to investigate every team for the things they found wrong with the Saints. Remember, the Saints investigation began because there were allegations by either a player or a coach (and I believe Brad Childress, then the coach of the Vikings, had heard some troubling accusations about bounties at the Saints-Vikes championship game 26 months ago). That caused the NFL to act. The league isn't going to send investigators out to the other 31 teams just because they found a hornet's nest in New Orleans. The NFL will look into allegations as they hear them, but I think it's a mistake to just fan out to every team and spend time looking into the practices at every team. Without proof, how exactly would the league expect players and coaches to volunteer any wrongdoing?