I am sure we are all well versed by now in the dark cloud that keeps hanging over the head of our one time bombardier, Ryan Mallett, the owner of just about every Arkansas passing record that exists and a bona fide state hero of sorts. Last night on ESPN's NFL Live, there was more serious discussion of the "character issue" as it relates to Ryan and his future with the NFL. I don't think a bus load of pranked nuns could produce as many sour faces as ESPN's panel did. Two former NFL jocks were exasperated that Ryan missed a meeting with the Carolina Panthers because he claimed to be sick. These jocks swore that they had never, ever missed a practice, game, or meeting because they were not feeling well. "There are no sick days in the NFL!" If true, that is probably how locker rooms come down with stomach flues and colds. Maybe Ryan paid really good attention in his biology course at the UofA when they talked about the spread of germs? I don't know. But it seems right now that if Ryan Mallett were seen picking his nose in public, it would be Breaking News on ESPN and another reason to drop him lower in the draft. Last night, the names Christian Ponder and Jake Locker were discussed as going ahead of Ryan in the draft when it comes to QB's taken. Good lord.
So the question is this. Is Ryan Mallett more Charlie Sheen or more the bad luck Charlie Brown? I think possibly a muddle of sorts, really, of the two. The public intox, the bad meeting with the press at the combine, a general sense of immaturity (Erin Andrews incident), the likelihood that he has indeed used drugs at some point, and his countryboy / gangsta way of speaking, which has gotten better, have not done him any favors. But I think he also has the bad luck of there being a media beast that hungers for storylines and is generally incapable individually thinking for itself. What one says, the next repeats, and so on and so on. And once that storyline starts, there really isn't a lot one can do to reverse it in the eyes of the media. I just hope for Ryan's sake that he has convinced at least one NFL team that he is not the badboy that he is being played as. I would think the Fayetteville Police Department, with as many Razorback scalps as they have on their wall, would be a good reference with just one public intox arrest. Media, if you want a proven, 100 percent, Charlie Sheen of the SEC, go visit Stephen "Winning" Garcia in Columbia, South Carolina, who is now currently suspended from the team and is hoping for a . . . . I've lost count, chance.
I certainly don't know the heart of Ryan Mallett, but I don't think the Arkansas Razorbackswould have had as good of a run over the last two years if Ryan were not a good leader and if he were some drug addict in need of the next hit. But I understand too that an NFL team can't be too cautious when it comes to the type of money that comes with being a high picked draft selection. But if I were them, my concerns would be more towards Ryan's slowness and need for just about an error free offensive line as well as his nasty habit of throwing interceptions in the 4thquarter with the game on the line.
I sincerely hope a good team takes a chance on Ryan, and if he does score a boat load of guaranteed money, I hope he tucks a good portion of it away for the future, spends some on his family that raised him, and then gives a portion back in the form of scholarship dollars to the University of Arkansas. If he chooses to blow all the money on a fast living, Bobby Brown, lifestyle that so many seem to be predicting for him, then that would be a shame. The Razorbacks could use a high profile NFL player that is known for doing things the right way and has success on the field. Pro Star, former Razorback. Jeff Long wants to expand the brand. Well, a successful Ryan Mallett in the NFL certainly would help do that. This time next week, we should have a good idea of where the Ryan Mallett story goes from here.