Wednesday, April 22, 2009

He did what?

They were right there in front me; and I couldn’t help myself but soak in the moment. The post-combine Mock Drafts were out and they all had Percy Harvin in the top half of the draft, some pundits were even arguing he could go top 10. Percy was going to be the player that would forever banish the bias against the University of Florida wide receivers. The bias that started with wideouts that played under Spurrier and continued to be held against the players that have played under Meyer. But Percy was different. Percy would find a crack in the theory and expose it, like he had done so many times to opposing defenses. He would be the guy that the Florida coaching staff would point to as the example of wide receivers they put into the League.

Scouts had seen the combination of size, speed and power and were in awe. They watched the tape and saw what Gary Danielson once called the best release from the line of scrimmage he had ever seen in college football. They saw him glide into the endzone time after time against the best defenses in college football and had visions of Percy doing the same in their uniform.

They spoke with Urban Meyer, he of the 2 National Championships and the trust of Bill Belichick, and they heard that Percy’s will to win was unrivaled. They heard that he was a great teammate from the ultimate teammate, Tim Tebow. Sure there were concerns about injuries, but Percy had had that surgery to correct the foot problem and said he finally felt healthy. You could see it in their eyes – the scouts were thinking he had done all that he had done and didn’t feel healthy? Imagine what he could do for us now that he felt 100%!

Then as quickly as the dream appeared it began to disappear. Within a few weeks of the combine, it was reported that Percy had scored a 12 on the Wonderlic Test. Thankfully though, I reasoned, the League will forgive a low test score when the talent is great. There are a long line of players that have done poorly on the Wonderlic that ended up succeeding in the League I said. I reasoned Dan Marino scored a 15 and he was a pretty good pro.

While my own reasoning calmed me, everyone else wasn’t so easily dissuaded from concern. The pundits began to pencil in Percy’s name in the 20s. My initial reaction was that of shock and disbelief. How could someone who was arguably the best skill position player at the University of Florida drop into the lower half of the first round I wondered aloud. And then I started to see the teams that they were projecting him to and realized that maybe, just maybe, dropping into the lower half of the first round would hasten the banishment of the bias. If Percy could catch passes from Ryan, Flacco or Manning wouldn’t that help the cause more than being stuck with Russell, Girard or whoever is the quarterback for the Jets? Yes, this will work out just fine, I told myself. I could see it in my mind’s eye, there were the pundits talking about the 2011 draft, saying that Deonte Thompson, from the University of Florida and in the mold of former first rounder and current Atlanta Falcon Percy Harvin, will be one of the first receivers taken in the draft. I was at ease with this scenario. Sure it might cost Percy a little money, but wouldn’t it be worth it for the good of the next group of players? Percy’s last gift to the University of Florida, as if the two National Championships weren't enough.

While I basked in the idea of Percy playing for a better team, a better quarterback, reporters at and were compiling a list of players that supposedly had failed the combine drug test. Reports began to surface that there were some “big names” on the failed list. I wondered aloud to my friends, who could possibly be dumb enough to smoke pot before the combine? The players know that they are going to be tested right, I asked.

A friend once told me be careful of the questions you ask because someone might just answer them.

The initial leaked list of names (remember the drug test results are supposed to confidential), included Clay Matthews, Jr., Brian Cushing, B.J. Raji, Vontae Davis, and our own Percy Harvin. No, no this couldn’t be. Not Percy. One by one the players and their representatives began proclaiming their innocence. I found it odd that neither Percy, nor his agent, were publicly voicing Percy’s innocence, but I figured why argue when all it is is a rumor?

Time passed and as it turned out more and more names were crossed off the “failed” list. First Matthews, then Cushing, then Davis, then Raji. I figured it was just a matter of time before our beloved Percy would have his name cleared too. All would be fine and Percy could banish the bias.

Unfortunately it was all just a dream. For some unknown reason, Percy did, in fact, fail his drug test at the combine. And while the above was written tongue-in-cheek (personally I don’t care if anyone smokes pot), there is some truth to it. Percy was in the unique position to be Meyer’s first recruited player to be drafted in the first round. That is all but a pipe dream now, excuse the pun. The NFL has become intolerant to off-field-issues over the past 3 years or so, ask Pacman and Mike Vick. There is so much money involved in a first round draft choice that picking a player that will have one strike against him – which Percy will – in the first round just isn’t smart business and can be career suicide. In all likelihood Percy will be drafted in the first half of the 2nd round (although it is possible he slips even further); and while he probably cost himself millions of dollars he should also have a fine NFL career.

All of this just has me wondering – what in the world was he thinking?


ap said...

I agree. But a prodigal son is generally considered a young man who wastes a lot on money on a lavish lifestyle.

jj gator said...

Percy did something stupid - no more, no less. He wasn't the first to get caught, nad he won't be the last.

He'll likely be made to attend the NFL's substance-abuse program once he's drafted, and I hope he's learned a lesson from all this - it's time for him to keep his nose clean for the sake of his career, and time for him to man up since he's no longer in college.

Scully said...

ah, the optomist.

let's not understate the problem by saying that he'll likely be made to attend the substance-abuse program.

he has 1 strike in a 3 strike system and he hasn't even figured out what jersey he will wear.

the reason that he will not be drafted as highly as he could have been is the fact that teams aren't as willing to take the risk that a player will keep his nose clean for the sake of their career.

jj gator said...

Scully, getting nailed for one little doobie is a hell of lot tamer than what Mark Sanchez was busted for (sexual assault, which he was also arrested for). Hopefully Percy will realize that now he can't afford to be that cavalier in the NFL, if he wants to made a decent living as a pro football player.

He did seomthing foolish and will likely suffer the consequences of going "one toke over the line". The best way he can redeem himself is to stay clean and produce results on the playing field. If a team is willing to give him the benefit of a doubt and he stays out of trouble, more power to him.

RHOmea said...

a) traces of marijuana in the system can linger for weeks.
b) If he was an alcoholic, well that would be OK.
c) Too bad it wasn't steroids - he could go play baseball and win the HR crown instead...

Hyper-hypocrites rule America.

jj gator said...

Well, Percy wound up going to Minnesots in the first round, so things didn't go up in smoke for him.

He admitted that what he did was stupid, and I hope he learned his lesson and goes forward from here. Now that he's in the NFL, he's in a league of grown men and needs to start acting like one. He does that, he'll be fine.

Scully said...

I am very happy for Percy and think Minnesota is a great fit for him.

jj gator said...

I really hope somebody in the Viking locker room will mentor Percy and keep him headed in the right direction; if his accomplishments at the college level transfer over to the pros, Katie bar the door!

Percy just needs to take care of Percy, work with his new team and stay out of trouble. (On a side note, I hope he'll take some time in the off-season to finish his degree at UF, just as Al Horford is doing.)