After watching the first round of the NFL 2010 Draft in its entirety late last week - along with many of you as well judging by the 30-percent increase in viewers - it dawned on me that it seems as though quite a few NFL teams are starting to pay more attention to the character and the off the field actions of potential draftees.
With the off field exploits and antics of some of the league's players making the sports headlines more and more frequently (for all the wrong reasons), it's high time for NFL clubs to take a more proactive approach to addressing the conduct of its players.
The latest high-profile NFL star to bring shame to the league, to his team and to himself is Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
His recent behavior in the late-night hours in Georgia has been widely chronicled, so unless you have been in a cave for the past couple of months you probably are all too familiar with Roethlisberger's horrible behavior.
"Big Ben" is not the only NFL star to have gone astray, but his situation probably has drawn as much, if not more, attention than most others due to the repulsiveness of his behavior.
Back to the NFL 2010 Draft now.
As various players' names were called, with greater frequency the so-called expert reviewers were outlining the worthiness (and in some cases the not so worthy) of players' character and their track records for how they have behaved off the field and in their respective communities.
The talking heads seemed to visit the character piece just about as much as 40 times and vertical jumps, or at least though it often seemed.
Regardless if you are a Denver Broncos or Tim Tebow fan, you had to appreciate the storyline, at the very least.
Long story short, Denver drafts Tebow much higher than many of the experts feel he should have been selected at based strictly on his physical abilities; but as the post-selection interviews are dissected it became clear that the Broncos wanted a quarterback of high morals that would be a positive influence on the team and that would be willing to bo whatever was asked of him - those traits spell Tebow.
That moment was like a breath of fresh air being pumped into the event, wow!
With the talk surrounding some of the players that had slipped (drafted lower than their physical skills merited) focusing on players being immature, irresponsible or having not had a father figure in their lives growing up as a cause for their shortcomings in the life skills department, I realized that not just NFL coaches and personnel directors have to concern themselves with the way their players take care of their responsibilities, but high school coaches, high school coaches do also.
"When I first came to Jacksonville (2-years ago) I spent a lot of time just getting to know the kids," Jacksonville athletic director and head football coach, Steve Wells said. "Not every kid at any school is born with a silver spoon in his mouth. I feel it is a big part of our job as coaches to get our players to understand early on that they have to take care of their grades, play with class and do things the right way, both on and off the field."
Wells went on to provide a snapshot at the first questions he fields from the various college recruiters that he deals with regularly.
"I tell our kids all the time, the first question the college coaches ask me is about a kids' character, the second is about grades and the third question is concerning if he can play or not," Wells said. "If I can't answer the first question in a positive way, the second and third questions never get asked.
"If I can answer the first question in a positive way, but not the second, it's the end of the discussion right there, no matter how good a kid can perform on the football field, the character and the grades come before the playing skills."
Though it may seem a simplistic approach, if more NFL teams focused on character first and playing skills second, the NFL would have far fewer headaches to deal with and be more enjoyable to watch.