It would seem that with teams such as Cincinnati and Tennessee having so many problems with off the field issues that most other teams are starting to put much more emphasis on character issues just like the Steelers have for years.
Character issue now at forefront
By Ed Bouchette
NFL Draft Rumors
Scouts call them measurables, such as a pro football prospect's time in the 40-yard run, his height, his weight, how high he can jump. That's the easy stuff, something a stenographer could record.
The intangibles? As elusive as Barry Sanders. There are more of them, too. Scouts have their peculiar phrases for them, such as how a player moves in space, how fast is his motor, how big is his heart, whether he has quick-twitch fiber or - former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Kent Stephenson loved this one - if he is country strong.
One word used to describe an intangible has dominated the talk of scouts and coaches more than ever as they evaluate college prospects who will be drafted Saturday and Sunday: Character.
While many NFL teams long took into account a prospect's character, new NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has forced them to take it even more seriously. Goodell recently suspended Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam "Pac-Man" Jones for the 2007 season and Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry for half of the season because of their frequent troubles with the law.
Goodell has not issued a formal policy on the matter, but he has said teams also could be fined or lose draft picks based on the criminal behavior of their players. And that has gotten the attention of everyone.
"The No. 1 thing we look at right now is character," Detroit coach Rod Marinelli said during the NFL meetings in March.
Close by, Seattle coach Mike Holmgren talked about ignoring potential problem players in the draft.
"If you have real stringent requirements, I think, in the draft, you head it off," Holmgren said. "Then you're not going to take a chance on somebody.
"Some teams already do that. And, when you look at the kids, all his records and everything, he has a problem and boom, he's off the board or he drops or whatever."
The Steelers have three men who work various security details for them and the NFL in the Pittsburgh area. Much of their time after the season ends is spent on background checks of college prospects.
NFL security also works background checks on all the college prospects and issues reports to every team. Yet, Jones still was drafted in the top 10 by the Titans.
"There was one issue (at West Virginia) that everyone knew about prior to the draft," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said at the NFL meeting. "His background was very difficult. None of us have an idea what he went through, I can assure you of that. Beyond that, it is very complex. If I could give you one simple answer to why, I would. But it is a very, very complex set of circumstances."
No team has been vilified about the character issue more than the Bengals. Nine Bengals have been arrested since January 2006, and Henry has been charged five times since December 2005.
Yet, coach Marvin Lewis said the Bengals take character into account at draft time as much as any NFL team does, and that the screening process has been in place for a long time.
"You already do that. It happens at your paper. It happens at Procter & Gamble. Nobody ever has to read about it. The process is pretty tight already."
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin saw first-hand the residue of the wrong kind of tradition that can grip a team when he worked one season in 2006 with the Minnesota Vikings as defensive coordinator. Four Vikings were charged in the infamous 2005 Love Boat scandal, and there were lingering problems with behavior on the team.
"It's part of the culture," Tomlin said. "Things that go on outside the white lines always manifest themselves inside the white lines. That's the bottom line."
Tomlin said the Steelers will take a tough stance in this draft on the character issue.
"Everybody says they want to win and says the right things, but are they willing to deal with things on a day-to-day basis? Are they willing to prepare like a champion?
"It's about the people you bring in."