Gresham speaks: Maybe he shouldn’t
When I said a couple of weeks ago that OU tight end Jermaine Gresham wasn’t talking to the media, I wasn’t exactly correct. Turns out, Gresham is talking to the media; he just isn’t doing interviews.
Last Friday after an OU practice, a group of reporters, maybe 20 in all, were gathered around Bob Stoops just outside the Switzer Center. The Sooners were filing into their locker room, and Gresham walked by. “A shoutout to Michael Vick,” Gresham yelled at the media. I don’t know how many heard him; I was actually turned in the direction of the players, so I heard it. A couple of seconds later, Gresham yelled again, “A shoutout to Michael Vick.”
The day before, Vick and the Eagles had agreed to a contract, so one of the NFL’s superstars was back in the league after a two-year absence due to a federal investigation, and subsequent conviction and prison term, for dog-fighting.
You can certainly understand why some college football players were Vick fans and are happy he’s back in the league. Heck, I’ve got no problem with Vick being back in the NFL. He served his time. Let him play.
But is Jermaine Gresham just daring NFL scouts to put a red flag by his name? Gresham is an all-world tight end who will go high in the draft. First half of the first round, almost certainly, and maybe about as high as a tight end can go. Tight ends typically don’t go in the draft’s top 10, but Gresham is such a special talent, he could threaten that barrier.
If he’ll stop being his own worst enemy. Gresham was arrested earlier this year for failing to pay a seat-belt fine. No big deal in the American judicial system, but certainly a sign that someone doesn’t take care of business. Then Gresham declares he’s not talking to the media because he didn’t like the way that story was handled — a two-inch story in one column on the front page of The Oklahoman sports page. Now Gresham is marching around yelling support for Vick, which certainly is Gresham’s right but won’t make NFL scouts think they’re dealing with a mature, thoughtful player. Vick is a polarizing figure. Empathy for Vick is not a bad thing. Public celebration for Vick is not a popular move for NFL owners.
The NFL is big business. Big and serious business. Teams spend a lot of money and do a lot of investigation on prospects. If you’re a step slower than the ideal, they mark it down. If you’ve had a few injuries, they mark it down. If you got into trouble in high school, they mark it down. If you show a lack of responsibility, they mark it down. If you show a lack of common sense, they mark it down.
That doesn’t mean teams won’t draft Gresham high. Or even just as high as they would have. But it also doesn’t mean teams will look only at Gresham’s height, weight, speed, hands and skill. Gresham could be costing himself money. If Randy Moss can fall all the way to 19th in the first round, Jermaine Gresham can slip a notch or two.
Someone at OU should have a talk with Gresham and explain the way the world works. Do what you want and blame anyone you want. But do certain things, and you’re only hurting yourself.
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