“Listen, I want to preface – we’re not in the rehabilitations business.”
Doug Pederson was asked in Tuesday’s media session about the trade to bring in Dorial Green-Beckham, the mercurial second-year wide receiver with a host of off-the-field issues in college. The first-year head coach started his answer — after invoking Michael Vick — by telling reporters the Eagles are not in the business of rehabilitating players.
“At the same time,” Pederson continued,” we feel like with the staff that I’ve assembled on offense, with the personnel staff upstairs, we can bring guys in that might have had, you know, a little bit of a history, and we can help these players. Not only become young men, but become good football players.”
Usually, when a head coach wants to illustrate the importance of his players being good character guys, he says that last line the opposite way. But we’ll grant that Pederson was talking off-the-cuff after a tough practice in ridiculous heat. But, “a little bit of a history?”
Doug. Please. Be better at this.
Green-Beckham does have a “little bit” of a history. His life growing up was not easy by any stretch, but maturity issues have stayed with him from the time he was in high school through college and into the NFL. He was arrested multiple times for small drug offenses — he lost one game at Missouri to suspension, but more than one football writer has pointed out that the NFL’s stance on marijuana would have landed him far more severe penalties as a pro. That, of course, is nothing compared to this, via Sporting News:
Green-Beckham broke into his girlfriend’s home in anger, kicking down the door. He proceeded to throw another victim down several stairs and go after his girlfriend at the time, according to the police report. Charges were never filed after the victim failed to cooperate. Instead, Green-Beckham again escaped criminal punishment, but was finally given the boot by Missouri. He transferred to Oklahoma but was not ineligible.
Titans GM Jon Robinson said, via The Tennessean, “[w]e are moving on. I appreciate everything Dorial did when he was here. He bought in to what we were trying to do. But in the end we felt like this was the best decision for the team.”
Teams don’t just cut ties with second-year talented wide receivers for backup linemen like Dennis Kelly. It sure looks like Tennessee felt the need to get away from DGB before another shoe dropped.
The Eagles, under Pederson, seem to be collecting shoes and just hoping they never drop.
This season, the Eagles drafted Wendell Smallwood in the fifth round. The running back was very productive at West Virginia, but dropped in the draft in part because of off-the-field issues, namely his arrest for witness intimidation that related to a murder case in Delaware. Though the charges were eventually dropped against Smallwood, the issue lingered over him for years, up to and into this year’s draft. The Eagles did their due diligence, they said at the time, and found no reason not to draft him.
In the seventh round, the Eagles took Alex McCalister, who had been suspended for a “violation of team rules” during his final season at Florida, missing the team’s bowl game. The Eagles also took Jalen Mills in the seventh round. Mills was arrested in 2014 for allegedly punching a woman in the face while at LSU. In May, Mills told reporters, via Matt Lombardo at NJ.com, “It wasn’t actually a charge. It was pending. But it was just a warrant for my arrest. I wasn’t charged with anything.”
Lesson learned, it seems.
Tuesday, when addressing Green-Beckham, Pederson brought up Mills specifically, saying, “Jalen Mills had incidents. You just go down the list. And we’ve all – we all have faults.”
Wait. You just go down the list?
“We all have things in our past that come back at some point,” Pederson continued. “And, you know what? We learn from them, we move on, and we make better men out of these guys. And this is an opportunity not just for him but for us as a staff to show that.”
See, it’s an opportunity for Pederson and his staff to show how they make better men out of the roster. Even though that’s not the business they are in.
“Again, we’re not in the business of trying to rehabilitate anybody,” Pederson reiterated, “but at the same time I think that through the structure of the football, the way that we practice, the organization, I just think there are so many life lessons that can be learned from the way we work and the way we train throughout the day and throughout the year and this is what we encourage our players to take on.”
“Once they step out of these walls and off the property,” Pederson said, “those are the things they rely on in their daily lives.”
Sure. Like Nelson Agholor, who left minicamp this summer with a few teammates and went to a strip club, where one of the dancers accused him of sexual assault. Agholor was never formally charged in that incident, which was reportedly a money exchange gone horribly wrong, but obviously that situation hangs over him, and the team.
So does the arrest of Nigel Bradham, the Eagles new linebacker who got into a fight and was arrested on suspicion of assault in Miami, two days before training camp started.
So, too, does Lane Johnson’s pending suspension for performance enhancing drugs, something the offensive tackle seems to have done after he stepped out of the walls of the property.
Maybe all of these players have finally learned their lessons. Maybe Pederson and his staff can mentor them into the kind of young men (and good football players) he hopes they will become. But it sure as heck looks like Pederson, Roseman, and by association Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, are more interested in good football players than good young men.
General manager Howie Roseman addressed the Green-Beckham trade by saying, “[o]ur eyes are open. We understand. We’re going into it with our eyes open. Incredibly talented guy and he’s got to make the most of this opportunity.”
And that’s fine. Really, it’s fine. If it works, and DGB and Mills and Smallwood and all the players on the roster make the most of their opportunities.
Still, there are suddenly a lot of shoes up in the air, and Pederson better hope they don’t all drop at once.