In these ultra-sensitive times one can create headlines when asking someone whether their mother was a prostitute.
Heck, there isn’t any time when asking if Mom was a professional slut wouldn’t cause a reaction; generally it would be a guaranteed knuckle sandwich in the proboscis no matter the year, decade or century.
But the controversy of the week involves Jeff Ireland (left), the GM of the Miami Dolphins.
Right off the top let me tell you that Ireland is a very good man. He spent four years working in the Chiefs personnel department back in the day (1997-2000) scouting the colleges in the southwest and southeast. Ireland helped the team evaluate and draft guys like Dante Hall and Greg Wesley.
Ireland is also the step-son of Chiefs great E.J. Holub, and his maternal grandfather was Jim Parmer, who was the college scouting director for the Chicago Bears for 35 years. He was responsible for drafting many of the players who made up the Bears Super Bowl team of 1985.
It was spending summers with his grandfather that sparked the desire to be a scout in Ireland. He joined the Dallas Cowboys in 2001. When Bill Parcells took over the football operation of the Dolphins in 2008, he named Ireland the team’s general manager.
It was in that role on April 2 that Ireland was sitting in his office talking with WR Dez Bryant. Considered the top rated receiver in the 2010 Draft class, Bryant was an interesting case. He missed most of his senior season because of an NCAA suspension that came when he lied about his involvement with Deion Sanders. On top of that, there were plenty of other red flags in Bryant’s dossier involving his maturity while playing at Oklahoma State. Let’s just say he wasn’t the easy guy to deal with and not the most reliable player in the program.
And then there was his childhood and his mother Angela. She was 15 years old when Bryant was born. His father was in his early 40s. When Dez was eight years old, his mother was sentenced to four years in a Texas prison for distributing crack cocaine. She was a user and abuser of cocaine, marijuana and PCP. There are other stories from her past that rumbled through the NFL as they investigated her son’s background, the type that don’t necessarily turn up in old arrests and court cases.
The Dolphins had the 12th choice of the first round and that was considered by most teams the opening to the window where Bryant would be considered as a possible selection. Miami was interested in trading down, and every slot they dropped would make Bryant more of a possibility for the ‘Fins.
So Bryant visited the team’s complex and in a conversation with Ireland, the GM supposedly asked him if his mother was a prostitute.
Part of the business of evaluating players? Absolutely.
“I got mad – really mad – but I didn’t show it,” Bryant told Yahoo.com.
When the story became public, Ireland called Bryant and apologized. He then released this statement through the Dolphins:
“My job is to find out as much information as possible about a player that I’m considering drafting. Sometimes that leads to asking in-depth questions. Having said that, I talked to Dez Bryant and told him I used poor judgment in one of the questions I asked him. I certainly meant no disrespect and apologized to him. I appreciate his acceptance of that apology and I told him I wished him well as he embarks on his NFL career.”
I can tell you this about Jeff Ireland – if he asked the question, he felt it was important in doing his job in collecting information on Bryant. He wasn’t doing it to be a jack-ass.
And I can tell you another thing about Ireland – he meant his apology. If he didn’t feel that way, he never would have said so.
That hasn’t kept the media, some players, the NFL, the NFL Players Association and a host of others from tearing apart Ireland’s character.
“I think the individual who asked that question, somebody ought to whack him in the head,” former Bears/Saints head coach Mike Ditka (left) told a Miami radio station. “You don’t ask that question. If you think you know it, you know. What are you going to confront a young man with that situation for? He probably loves his mother no matter what she is or who she is. Why would somebody do that? I don’t understand things like that. Maybe I’m naive or I’m old. I don’t understand that. Why?
“What do you get from asking that question? What’s it all about? Every bit of information has to be spread out on the table now? Is that it? Everybody’s dirty linen has to be out? I disagree with that. I’m sorry.”
The last place Ireland ever wants to find his name is in a newspaper headline. That’s never been important to him, so he’s not curried favor with various media types over the year. That increases the bull’s eye on his back. That’s sad because he was only doing his job. Maybe he could have gone after his information in a different manner; but he wasn’t trying to pick a fight or publicly embarrass the young man. Remember, this story didn’t come from Ireland, it came from Bryant.
And there’s nothing that unusual with the question Ireland asked.
“It’s important to keep in mind the context of these interviews, the prospect of guaranteeing a 22-year-old stranger millions of dollars to enter one of the most competitive, intolerant and insensitive professional work environments around,” wrote former Dolphins FB Rob Konrad in an e-mail to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I’m not attempting to defend the question asked, but rather the person and the process.
“Having been through those interviews, in the locker room and on the field, I can tell you that the work environment in the NFL is unique, one that would be unacceptable in virtually any other industry. The questions asked by teams in pre-draft interviews usually have the dual purpose of getting to know the player and testing their mindset.”
Pro football is a high performance business, with a lot on the line financially, especially with high draft choices. NFL teams will continue to deeply investigate and test their potential employees, especially those getting the big money.
But it may be awhile before questions are asked about somebody’s mama.
APPARENTLY NO CHIEFS MEETING WITH HENDERSON
So maybe the Chiefs aren’t interested in veteran defensive lineman John Henderson.
Supposedly the former member of the Jaguars was speaking on Wednesday with the club. But apparently that did not happen; at least no outlet has received confirmation.
The New York media reports that Henderson will meet sometime soon with the Giants.
PERSONNEL FILE/WEDNESDAY, APRIL 28
- BEARS – acquired an undisclosed selection in the 2011 NFL Draft from the Rams in a trade for S Kevin Payne.
- BRONCOS – starting OT Ryan Clady suffered a partial tear of a patellar tendon in his knee playing basketball. Clady reportedly will miss three months after surgery to repair the tendon.
- BROWNS – claimed DB DeAngelo Smith on waivers (Lions); released DB Matterral Richardson.
- EAGLES – signed P Ken Parrish.
- RAMS – acquired S Kevin Payne in trade with the Bears for an undisclosed selection in the 2011 NFL Draft.
- RAVENS – released FB Charles Ali.
- REDSKINS – reached agreement with WR Joey Galloway.