Naughty or Nice?

Santonio Holmes is now doing his big game thing as a New York Jet

By: Chris Ross

In the past few years the NFL has seen its fair share of athletes who probably haven’t behaved well enough to get on Santa’s nice list. However, when it comes to NFL front offices, it’s not only Santa who isn’t rewarding the naughty.

Professional athletes with troubled pasts often gain a reputation that they are unable to shake, which causes the majority of teams to shy away from them. The media too often brands players of this nature as “cancers in the locker room”, guys who “destroy team chemistry”, or “distractions.” Whether it be diva wide-receivers or quarterbacks in trouble with the law, many GM’s fail to exercise the simple cost-benefit principle when deciding to forgo the signing or drafting of these ultra talented, difficulty prone, (super)stars.

We are now only 11 weeks into the NFL season and we can already see a number of these” character issue” players causing no more of a problem than a person J-walking.

This issue is not a matter of taking on a great risk and all these NFL front office’s just need to find a bit of their inner Evel Knievel.

The new Mr. Big Game in New York is the man who is best known for catching the game winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLIII for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mr. Santonio Holmes was sent to the New York Jets in exchange for a fifth round pick, that’s right folks a fifth rounder. He was subsequently hit with a 4 game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy within 24 hours of learning he had been traded to New York. Not only that, but Holmes has also had his fair share of brushes with the law throughout his life times throughout his life.

Despite all of that, Rex Ryan was willing to take a chance on a guy who had the ability to become the #1 option in his offence and all it cost him was a fifth round pick. Holmes is 26 years old and could very likely become the most important long-term piece of this Jets offence aside from the “Sanchize” of course.
Reward: In only 6 games Holmes already has 447 yards receiving, to go along with two game winning touchdown catches.
Risk: Fifth Round Pick

Jerry Jones said that after picking Dez Bryant he was not going to make the same mistake that he did with Randy Moss in 1998 and Jerry “GM” Jones finally made a decision that benefitted his team. Dez Bryant was one of these “character issue” guys that teams ostracize as if they’re carrying bubonic plague. Apparently, Bryant was constantly late to team activities in college and his mother was a prostitute or something. Okay, I’m not sure that the second one holds much water but you get the point right?

Dez Bryant is one of the best emerging young stars in the NFL

Dez Bryant’s draft stock dropped dramatically as the draft drew closer and closer. The Denver Broncos could have even taken him with the 22nd overall pick but they went the safe route, choosing Demaryius Thomas, who has compiled a total of 283 receiving yards this season. Dez Bryant, on the other hand, is flourishing on a Dallas Cowboys team that has gone through more drama than an episode of Days of our Lives. Bryant has amassed 547 yards in the air in addition to his 2 special team touchdowns and has received endless praise from respected analysts such as former Super Bowl winning coach Jon Gruden.
Reward: Superstar (diva?) Wide-Receiver?
Risk: 24th overall pick

Don’t think that I forgot to mention the top dog of them all. Michael Vick’s story is one that I don’t feel needs to be told because frankly I’m tired of hearing it. Vick has now turned his career around. He is no longer your half-ass it, get by on my talent quarterback as he is now working on his game more along the lines of your Tom Brady’s and Peyton Manning’s. Vick is getting MVP consideration around the league and has the potential to lead his Eagles to a Super Bowl.

Following his release from prison, amidst all the criticism, 31 other teams weren’t even willing to give this “underdog” a sniff at playing in the NFL again (last dog pun I swear). Controversially though, one team and one man gave him an opportunity and Andy Reid must be feeling like a kid in a candy shop these days, or a security guard in Dunkin Donuts, whatever works for you.
Reward: Michael Vick Reborn
Risk: Media distraction and $1.6 million of unguaranteed money.

I realize that there are other guys that don’t fit into this group, but that is just an inevitability when you gamble on troubled players. The real big baby of pro sports, Vince Young, looks to be done as a Titan, but no matter what happens Young will always be one of those risk-reward guys that had a real shot to become something special. This is an instance where it didn’t work out and the Titans organization needs to swallow its pride and move on. Here’s looking at you Bud Adams.

Randy Moss and Brett Favre get partial credit because they have also been on the other end of the spectrum in this regard.

Terrell Owens also deserves an honourable mention. Owens is a prime example of a player throughout his career who has been one of those reward is greater than the risk type guys. He almost didn’t get a chance to play this year because it looked like the risk was finally becoming greater than the reward. However, the Bengals gave him a chance and he has rewarded them with 897 freaking receiving yards through 10 games and the risk, well the risk is always T.O. Additionally, Pacman Jones who wasn’t able to get his stuff together in Tennessee or Dallas got, I believe, his 8 zillionth chance to play and became a staple in the much maligned Cincinnati defence before injuring his neck on October 26th putting him out for the season.

Are General Managers going to start changing their ways? Are they are seriously going to continue to consult their nice list to find average Joe millionaire or do they dare take a look at the naughty and find their future hall of famer ?

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at I’m now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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About Chris Ross
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4 Responses to Naughty or Nice?

  1. Yeah,

    I would tend to agree with most of this. Santonio Holmes and Michael Vick are a prime example. This is a nation of second chance, and it’s no surprise that as priviledged as athletes are they would be the first in line for a second chance.

    I would say TO would be more reward than risk, but I don’t know about that being the case all the time: He takes a lot of plays off.


  2. tophatal says:


    Holmes has gotten his second chance so let’s now hope he doesn’t once again pi_s it all away !

    Best emerging star in the league to my mind is the Browns’ Peyton Hillis ! What other Caucasian RB in the league has been settin’ it alight as of late ? Can you name one ?

    tophatal 🙂

  3. narnia says:

    nice, love this blog, how do I subscribe

  4. John says:

    very interesting post. great blog, by the way. be sure to check out mine. I am up-and-coming so feel free to comment.

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