AFC East: NFL Draft 2010

Bills' draft pick Wang made for this moment

May, 6, 2010
Ed WangSean Meyers/Icon SMIFifth-round pick Ed Wang could become the first full-blooded Chinese player to make an NFL roster.
Robert and Nancy Wang were determined to produce an athlete.

Even before their firstborn was conceived, they had plans. They were members of the Chinese track and field team but emigrated because they knew training methods and opportunities were superior in the U.S. The Wangs had a son, and when he was 6 they started him on speed work. He lifted weights when he was 10.

The NBA was their dream, but that was dashed before he entered high school. They traveled back to the motherland for bone scans to predict his height. The results were disappointing, but not derailing.

If they couldn't manufacture a basketball player, then they would concentrate on football.

And if football didn't work out, then they would've switched to track and field or to hockey or to powerlifting or to the Iditarod.

"They've had my back 100 percent ever since I was a little kid," Ed Wang said of his parents. "I could have moved to Alaska and they would have followed me there and trained me."

Thankfully, the Wangs' vision quest didn't come to that. The switch from hoops to football sufficed.

Two weeks ago, the Buffalo Bills drafted Ed Wang, an offensive tackle from Virginia Tech, in the fifth round. If he makes the roster as expected he will become the first full-blooded Chinese player in NFL history.

It is very important to him and to us to change the history of the NFL.

-- Robert Wang, father of Buffalo Bills' fifth-round pick Ed Wang
"We're really proud of this kid," Robert Wang said. "He's been working hard since he was very little, setting his goal with us. He always keep it in his mind what needs to be done. It is very important to him and to us to change the history of the NFL."

Ed Wang will strap on his Bills helmet for the first time Friday, when new head coach Chan Gailey conducts the first rookie camp.

For the Wang family it will be a milestone in validating the master plan they set forth two decades ago and continue with Ed's little brother, David Wang, a redshirt freshman guard at Virginia Tech.

"Ed understands how important this was for his parents." Robert Wang said. "We came from China to the States with our goal that our kids were going to be athletes.

"We educated them since a very early age. We always told them 'You have potential to be athletes, whether it's football or basketball or shot put. You're going to be athletes. To be among the top athletes, it's going to take a lot of effort.' So we've been teaching them since they were very young: 'If you want to get a better life, better results for your future, you better work hard at an early age.' They understand this."

As obsessed as Robert and Nancy Wang might seem to ordinary folks, they probably shouldn't be confused with overbearing parents such as Marv Marinovich or Mike Agassi, men who drove their sons to greatness and then to the brink with obsessive methods applied in the cradle.

Todd Marinovich is the ultimate cautionary tale of a father pushing his son too hard to be a great athlete. Marv Marinovich had a great career at USC but flamed out in the NFL. So he bred his son to be an NFL star for him.

That doesn't seem to be the case with the Wangs, even though Robert and Nancy left China without being able to compete in the Olympics.

"I'm grateful that they did it because what I went through as a child, a lot of the stuff that I did was harder than anything I've done even at college or high school," Ed Wang said.

"This is what we've been working for ever since I was a little kid. I can say 'we' because they have been a part of this journey since Day 1. My parents remind me to keep striving and keep working."

Robert Wang was a high jumper with a personal best of 7 feet, 2 inches, but he claimed Nancy was the star. He called her a "dominant" 100-meter hurdler, China's greatest. She should've appeared in two Olympics, but didn't. She was denied that opportunity in the 1980 Moscow Games because of the international boycott protesting the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. She suffered an injury before the 1984 Los Angeles Games and couldn't participate.

Ed Wang insisted he has no knowledge of his parents' track exploits. They've never been discussed, and he never has been compelled to ask.

While some might be alarmed by the Wangs' training philosophies for children, there are cultural reasons for them.

Dr. George T. Haley, author of "The Chinese Tao of Business" and professor at the University of New Haven (Conn.), explained competition is paramount in Asian cultures. Haley mentioned, for example, the gratitude speedskater Apolo Ohno shows for his Japanese father's rigid training demands at an early age.

"Winning is tremendously important to Asian cultures in general," Haley said. "If an individual is successful, then the way you got there was acceptable. It proves their moral worth to be successful."

Also to consider: Ed Wang's parents were products of a national sports program that identifies star athletes at an early age and isolates them for training purposes.

"They're surrounded by nothing but other kids being trained to be Olympic athletes," Haley said. "It's all they know, people training for world competition."

[+] EnlargeEd Wang
Chris Keane/Icon SMIEd Wang says he won't be content just making the Bills' roster. "If I don't play, it's not going to matter if I was the first Chinese-American player in the NFL because I didn't do anything."
Ed Wang's parents haven't steered him wrong yet.

Those bone scans performed for the Chinese junior national basketball program before Wang's freshman year of high school proved correct. Wang did grow to be 6-foot-5, inadequate for a center, the position he'd played almost since he learned to dribble. It was too late in his development to learn a new position. There aren't many 300-pound point guards anyway.

With the concentration shifted to football, Ed Wang's opponents went from delivering racial insults to respecting him -- even fearing him. He became a star tight end and defensive lineman at Stone Bridge High in Virginia and earned several scholarship offers. Parents started asking Robert Wang to train their kids.

"I can tell in high school, the first year, lots of other kids saw him and me working a lot," Robert Wang said. "I noticed coaches had different feelings, so I left them alone. I didn't push them. Sophomore year, Ed got a scholarship offer, and everybody understands what I did for Ed was worth the work.

"Ever since then I've been working with high school kids left and right. They recognized. I don't see any criticism from parents. A lot of parents don't know the sport or know what needs to be done. They don't understand what we're doing until they see the results."

The Bills might turn out to be most indebted to Robert Wang's tutelage. They've needed help at tackle for three years and surrendered 46 sacks last year.

Ed Wang was the first offensive tackle the Bills drafted since 2008, and the earliest they've drafted one since they took Mike Williams fourth overall in 2002.

Ed Wang said he thinks he'll remain at left tackle. If so, then he will compete with incumbent starter Demetrius Bell, who is coming off a knee injury.

Breaking into the starting lineup in many ways is more important to Ed Wang than making NFL history. While his Chinese heritage is tremendously important to him, he knows if he doesn't establish himself as a football player, his notable entry will be rendered a football footnote.

Yao Ming, the NBA's first Chinese star, wouldn't be a national hero if he were riding the pine in Houston.

"I wouldn't mind people knowing me as the first Chinese-American football player," Ed Wang said, "but when it comes down to it I have to perform for the Buffalo Bills.

"My objective is to be a football player in the NFL. If I don't play, it's not going to matter if I was the first Chinese-American player in the NFL because I didn't do anything. My perspective is I have to accomplish something first."

Rookie of the year from the AFC East?

May, 5, 2010
AFC South gadabout Paul Kuharsky stole an idea of mine Wednesday afternoon, when he posted his own Cinco de Mayo piece.

I should retaliate by swiping one of his ideas, but he never has any good ones.

Instead, I'm pilfering from NFC North maven Kevin Seifert. He asked his readers to debate what NFC North newbies have the best shot to win rookie of the year honors.

With that in mind, I've come up with two names for each AFC East club to consider and debate in the comments section below.

Our discussion shouldn't be limited to the names I mentioned. I had trouble deciding on a couple teams, but these are the ones I forecast as having a chance, emphasizing rookies who should get on the field right away and play positions conducive to the award.

Buffalo Bills: Running back C.J. Spiller was the most obvious choice of the four teams. He's an electric playmaker, and highlight-reel plays go a long way in creating buzz for awards. He will be a contributor immediately. I rated third-round defensive end Alex Carrington's chances ahead of second-round nose tackle Torell Troup because of their positions.

Miami Dolphins: Defensive lineman Jared Odrick and outside linebacker Koa Misi should have the greatest impact, and rightfully so. They were the Dolphins' first two picks. Misi is more likely to generate more attractive stats because of the way defensive coordinator Mike Nolan operates his 3-4 defense.

New England Patriots: The toughest team for me to settle upon, I skipped over first-round pick Devin McCourty because cornerbacks don't often jump right into Bill Belichick's lineup. Tight end Rob Gronkowski and linebacker Brandon Spikes, a pair of second-round picks, are plausible opening-day starters.

New York Jets: There wasn't much to choose from with only four picks, but first-rounder Kyle Wilson already has been named the starting nickelback and punt returner. Wilson will have opportunities to make plays. A non-skill player never has been voted offensive rookie of the year, but guard Vladimir Ducasse is my second choice because running back Joe McKnight and fullback John Conner appear to be depth players for now.

A look at the AFC East's post-draft voids

May, 5, 2010
Football Outsiders writer Vince Verhei has conducted a post mortem on the AFC East draft to identify remaining holes for every roster.

Here's a synopsis of Verhei's findings for an ESPN Insider article.

Buffalo Bills

Not surprisingly, the offensive line stands out as the biggest problem. Football Outsiders pinpointed the line as the primary concern heading into the draft, and the Bills waited until the fifth and seventh rounds to make their only O-line picks, tackles Ed Wang and Kyle Calloway.

Verhei writes that while ninth overall pick C.J. Spiller still could shine, "On third-and-long, though, prospects seem dismal. Bills quarterbacks could spend a lot of time on the Ralph Wilson Stadium turf -- or on the disabled list."

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins cut free safety Gibril Wilson and hotly pursued Ryan Clark before he re-signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. So they recognized the need, then waited until the fifth round to draft Reshad Jones, who will compete with Tyrone Culver (two career starts in three NFL seasons) and Chris Clemons (two starts last year as a rookie).

"One of these men will be the last line of defense on a team with serious playoff aspirations in 2010," Verhei writes.

New England Patriots

Verhei identifies outside linebacker as the biggest weakness, but doesn't seem as down on this void as with the others. The Patriots drafted Florida pass-rusher Jermaine Cunningham in the second round. But Verhei calls Tully Banta-Cain's 10 sacks "a one-year fluke" and describes the rest of the depth chart as a collection of quasi-capable castoffs.

New York Jets

Two areas that seemed most pressing for the Jets heading into the draft were safety and getting younger along the defensive line. The Jets didn't select a safety or a D-lineman among their four picks.

Verhei sees defensive line as the biggest problem. Marques Douglas, a 12-game starter, remains unsigned and probably isn't coming back. The Jets have moved Vernon Gholston from outside linebacker to end.

You have time to grade the AFC East draft

May, 3, 2010
There's a belief a draft can't be graded until three years later.

Don't tell that to the folks at SportsNation. They want you to grade the AFC East now.

Not only that, they want to know who you think the biggest busts will be.

And, since we're breaking timeframe rules already, they'd like you to rank the best 2011 draft class, too.

So get involved, be sure to print out your ballots, seal them in a Tupperware container and bury them in the yard.

We'll swoop by on our hovercrafts in 2013 to see how you did. Then we'll post a comprehensive review at

NFL interview coach: No question off-limits

April, 29, 2010
Dez BryantAP Photo/Tom PenningtonJeff Ireland's question to Dez Bryant (above) has stirred debate over NFL interview techniques, but former personnel director Ken Herock thinks teams should be able to ask players whatever they want.
Ken Herock's business is preparing prospects for NFL interviews.

He's not interested in 40-yard dash times or bench press repetitions. His mission is training college kids to make an impression when it's time to shake hands with general managers, scouts and head coaches before the draft.

The former NFL personnel director grooms them to be ready for anything because no subject is off the table -- not even questions about whether your mother is a hooker.

"I don't feel there are any topics off-limits," Herock said Thursday afternoon. "If anybody thinks they're off-limits, put yourself in the eyes of an employer that's going to hire a 21-year-old and pay him $15 million or $20 million."

Herock finds nary a problem with the controversial question Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland posed to Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant in a pre-draft interview.

Ireland asked if Bryant's mother was a prostitute. She has served 18 months in prison for selling crack and had admitted to abusing PCP, cocaine and marijuana.

"If somebody just comes out and says 'We hear your mom's a prostitute. Can you explain that situation to me?' I don't think there's anything offensive asking that question," Herock said.

Herock has serious credentials on the matter. He played as an AFL tight end for six seasons and has been a personnel executive for the Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers.

What's this big issue about? Big deal. I would want to know those things, and how do you find out unless you ask?

-- Former personnel director Ken Herock
For the past nine years Herock has trained players to make a golden first impression on NFL personnel evaluators in pre-draft interviews. Herock has worked with more than 600 players. A dozen, including University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, Boise State cornerback Kyle Wilson and Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain, were selected in the first round last week.

"I deal with this constantly," Herock said. "I have players whose parents are on drugs, are in jail, abandoned them, kicked them out of the house. I have to make sure my player is prepared to handle that in the right way when they're asked.

"I'm addressing these issues beforehand so they know how to answer every issue that's brought up to them."

Ireland's question to Bryant was revealed in a Yahoo! Sports column Tuesday. Ireland called Bryant to apologize after the story was published, and the Dolphins released a statement on Ireland's behalf.

On Wednesday, the NFL Players Association issued a statement critical of Ireland, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross issued a statement to say the club would conduct an internal review and the NFL admonished Ireland's question as crude.

"What's this big issue about? Big deal," Herock said. "I would want to know those things, and how do you find out unless you ask?

"But it sounded offensive, asking that question the way it was asked. Maybe he came on real strong, but before I would ask that question, I would know for sure that she was. I wouldn't go on any hearsay. I don't think it's offensive to ask that if there was truth to it, but before I asked, I would make sure there was validity."

Another former NFL executive doesn't wonder why the question is such a big story. What puzzles him is why pre-draft interviews have gotten to be so consequential in the first place.

"I can never remember us or anybody else turning down a good player based on a bad interview," said Larry Lacewell, the Dallas Cowboys scouting director for 13 years.

Lacewell's tenure spanned from Jimmy Johnson to Bill Parcells. Ireland worked as a national scout under Lacewell for four seasons.

"We didn't take a player just because he had a good interview, and we sure as hell didn't turn one down because of a bad interview," Lacewell said. "These kids either come in there nervous and scared or like trained dogs.

"If you had depended on [11-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman] Larry Allen for an interview, you might not have hired him as a janitor. I'd love to hear from a team that didn't draft Larry Allen because he couldn't talk."

Bryant was considered the best receiver in this year's draft, but some believed he slid because he interviewed poorly.

As it would turn out, the Dolphins filled their need at receiver by acquiring Brandon Marshall from the Denver Broncos and traded out of their original draft position at No. 12. The Cowboys drafted Bryant with the 24th overall pick.

"There's a certain way to ask questions, and I think [Ireland] asked with the wrong approach," Herock said. "But I would have prepared my player to answer that question to where it wouldn't be offensive to him.

"They already know about his family. They just want to see how he reacts and how he's going to explain it and how he's going to handle it.

"I don't think that question was out of line."

Easley traveled unlikely path to Buffalo

April, 29, 2010
"First Take" host Dana Jacobson sat down with Buffalo Bills receiver Marcus Easley, a fourth-round pick out of Connecticut.

How unlikely was it that Easley would make it to the NFL when he went to UConn?

Easley enrolled on an academic scholarship and didn't go out for the team until his sophomore season. He went into his senior season with five career catches for the Huskies, but came back for his final season even though he already had his undergraduate degree.

"I went there just based on academics," Easley said. "That was my focus at the time. I missed [football]. I still has the passion and the love for the game. I just felt like my career wasn't over and I needed to get back out there."


How I See It: AFC East Stock Watch

April, 29, 2010
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


Paul Soliai, Dolphins nose tackle: Next on the depth chart at nose tackle, Soliai was in position to be the starter until Jason Ferguson returned from his eight-game suspension. But the Dolphins made moves that will make it much more difficult for Soliai, a fourth-year pro, to assume the gig. The Dolphins drafted defensive lineman Jared Odrick with the 28th pick and announced afterward they would move defensive end Randy Starks to the nose. In fact, Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland didn't even mention Soliai's name when breaking down what their plans were at nose tackle after drafting Odrick.


Trent Edwards, Bills quarterback: Edwards enters his fourth pro season on shaky ground. He was Buffalo's opening-day starter the past two seasons but lost his job last year to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Now Edwards is in an open competition, but at least he knows the Bills haven't added an immediate threat. Edwards over the weekend learned a lot about what lies ahead when the Bills declined to draft Jimmy Clausen or Colt McCoy but selected Levi Brown in the seventh round. Bills GM Buddy Nix called Brown a "developmental" quarterback, and head coach Chan Gailey all but confirmed the Bills wouldn't sign a veteran free agent. That gives Edwards the greatest odds possible of winning his job back.

Wiley on Ireland: Teams need to know

April, 29, 2010
ESPN analyst Marcellus Wiley appeared on "Mike & Mike" to discuss the controversy surrounding Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland and the insensitive question he asked about Dez Bryant's mother in a pre-draft interview.

Wiley, a former Buffalo Bills defensive end, played for the Dallas Cowboys in 2004 under Bill Parcells, now the Dolphins football operations boss. Ireland was with the Cowboys as a scout at the time.

Ireland's question to Bryant about his mother being a prostitute reminded Wiley of an off-putting question Parcells asked him on his free-agent visit. As Wiley explains in the accompanying video, Parcells coldly asked the Columbia grad if he did drugs.

Wiley, while bothered by Ireland's tact with Bryant, defended the philosophical reasons behind the question.

"It's a tough question to hear," Wiley said. "When I first heard it and up until this moment I still shake my head, like, 'Wow, that was a crazy question to ask' just because we don't know the context.

"I'm going to play devil's advocate a little because I totally am sensitive to the question being asked. Most players I know get in trouble -- even let's go to Ben Roethlisberger, the last player in trouble -- because the people around them enable them and no one ever humbles them and tells them 'No' or tells them 'Stop.'

"In a locker room, chemistry is an issue. You've got to have the right people in there. You can't have cancers in that locker room. Sometimes in a guy's family circle he brings those same kind of issued along with him.

"Is it a team's responsibility to figure that out? As much as you can, yes, despite the number of the dollars invested. If you get a guy in the seventh round, you want to know what kind of things is this guy dealing with. What kind of social issues does this guy have to deal with on day-to-day basis?"


'PTI' examines the Ireland question

April, 29, 2010
"Pardon the Interruption" co-hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon attempted to answer the question of whether the controversial question Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland asked Dez Bryant about his mother being a prostitute was in bounds.

Michael Wilbon: That's not an interview question. That's insulting. That's demeaning. If Dez Bryant had gotten up and turned the desk over on this guy, that would have been in bounds, too. If he had knocked his head off, where I come from, that would have been fine. You know, Tony, when I talk about the NFL arrogance, this is what I'm saying. ... I'm talking about the feeling that you can say anything, do anything and there are no consequences. It disgusts me.

Tony Kornheiser: This is a league that hands people out Wonderlic tests, which supposedly measure a whole bunch of things. Do you think it's possible in an interview like that to gauge what kind of person they would be getting in Dez Bryant, that they wanted to see his reaction, that they wanted to see if he would turn over the table?

MW: And suppose she was. Then what?

TK: Well, yeah. That's what I'm thinking. So what? He's still got to catch passes. What does it matter? If I were Dez Bryant in that situation, I might say "I hope these people don't draft me because I never want to play [for] them." And I would point out that there are many, many children who come from terrible parents who turn out to be great adults themselves -- and the reverse is true. Many terrible children come from great parents.

MW: So what is [Ireland] getting at to ask that question unless to provoke?

TK: I think it is strictly to be provocative.

MW: And, by the way, wouldn't this seem to you -- because it seems to me -- it would violate the conduct code in a league? Wouldn't somebody want to address that? It's highly offensive.

TK: I can't imagine anybody standing up and saying "That was a good question."

Ireland controversy heating up for Dolphins

April, 28, 2010
Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland's private conversation with Dez Bryant is turning into a public-relations nightmare.

For the second straight day, the Dolphins issued a statement regarding a controversial question Ireland asked the Oklahoma State receiver in a pre-draft interview. Ireland asked Bryant if his mother was a prostitute.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross issued a statement Wednesday afternoon:
"As an owner of many companies and organizations, including the Miami Dolphins, I have always strived to comply with the highest standards in all aspects of my businesses including recruiting.
"In interviewing employees we always look to obtain relevant and appropriate information in adherence with the best industry practices.
"Jeff Ireland has already apologized for questions asked of former Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant.

"I will be looking into this matter personally and will take appropriate actions if necessary."

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith issued a statement critical of Ireland on behalf of the union Wednesday.

Mike Ditka was a guest on Miami sports-radio station 790 The Ticket and blasted Ireland. When Ditka was coach of the Chicago Bears in the 1980s, Ireland was a ball boy. Ireland's grandfather, Jim Parmer, was the Bears' college scouting director at the time.

"Somebody ought to whack him in the head," Ditka said of Ireland, according to a blog by Palm Beach Post reporter Edgar Thompson. "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.

"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."

Former Dolphins fullback Rob Konrad defended Ireland with an e-mail distributed to South Florida reporters.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel columnist Ethan J. Skolnick posted Konrad's e-mail in full. Here are some highlights:
"Jeff is one of the true good guys in the industry, to see his name being tarnished in the media as the result of single question during a team interview seems to me entirely unjust. ...

"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. 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 he 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 mind-set. ...

"When I was coming out of Syracuse University, I remember being asked if I thought I could succeed as a white running back in the NFL and why I thought a kid who attended a suburban Massachusetts private high school was tough enough to play in the NFL. If one were interviewing a prospective executive for private industry, this line of questioning likely wouldn't be acceptable. ...

"Jeff may be demanding and thorough, and maybe a question was asked in poor judgment, but he's one of the good guys in the NFL. He's been a great asset to the Dolphins and a good friend to South Florida."


Tannenbaum's tradewinds send Jets sailing

April, 28, 2010
Mike Tannenbaum and Rex RyanWilliam Perlman/US PresswireMike Tannenbaum, right, has gained a reputation as a wheeler and dealer and is constantly working to improve New York's roster.
Why do I get the feeling that if Mrs. Tannenbaum sent her little Mike off to school with his packed lunch, he rarely ate whatever she made?

By the time the lunch bell rang, he would've traded his bologna for a PB&J, his pretzel sticks for a fruit cup and offered recess services for a pudding to be named later.

"Our needs don't call for tapioca at this time, but we can revisit when chocolate becomes available and keep Jell-O as a contingency," I can imagine him saying during those formative years in Needham, Mass.

Mike Tannenbaum seems born to make his trades. As general manager of the New York Jets, he has gained a reputation as the consummate wheeler-dealer, unafraid to pull the trigger on any move that might improve his roster.

"I applaud him," former Green Bay Packers vice president Ron Wolf said, "because he's at least willing to put his nuts on the line."

Wolf knows Tannenbaum through mutual friend Bill Parcells. Tannenbaum considers both mentors and has invited Wolf to visit with the Jets' scouting department at the team facility in Florham Park, N.J.

"Everybody there's got to be proud of what he's doing," Wolf said. "They're a viable team."

A substantial reason for the Jets' outlook is Tannenbaum's maverick approach to building the team.

Any time is a fine time to make a trade in Tannenbaum's world.

He'll do it at the draft, trading up to snag cornerback Darrelle Revis, linebacker David Harris, tight end Dustin Keller quarterback Mark Sanchez and running back Shonn Greene.

He'll do it after training camp starts, bringing Brett Favre aboard in August. He'll do it during the season, adding Braylon Edwards in October. He'll do it as a component of free agency, taking gambles on cornerback Antonio Cromartie and receiver Santonio Holmes in the spring.

Makes no difference to Tannenbaum.

"Opportunities come, and you just don't know when they're going to come along," Tannenbaum said. "We just take our sheet and say, 'Here are our needs. Here's the trade possibilities here, the restricted free agents here, the guys that got cut, and here are the UFAs that we can't touch. What's best for the Jets?

"That's our charge. That's our obligation. I love it. I draw everything from it and, hopefully, we take those opportunities."

Tannenbaum carries on like he's running a fantasy football team, and by the looks of the Jets' roster, that might not be too far removed from reality. He also has added highly decorated running back LaDainian Tomlinson and pass-rusher Jason Taylor through free agency in a bid to win the Super Bowl this season.

"Anything worth fighting for is going to require some risk," said Jets senior personnel executive Terry Bradway, who preceded Tannenbaum as GM. "Expectations are high.

"We feel like we've done a good job putting this team together. But it won't stop. Nobody's going to be fooled by getting to the AFC Championship game and think that we're OK."

The Jets were supposed to be handcuffed by the "final eight" plan, a mechanism put in place for the uncapped season to prevent teams that went deep into the playoffs from loading up rosters. Teams that reached the second round of the playoffs essentially had to lose an unrestricted free agent before they could sign one.

Taylor was the only acquisition that fell under that category. He joined the Jets after they lost kicker Jay Feely. The Jets collected the other players by working the phones and hammering out deals the old-fashioned way.

As the Jets did with Edwards last year, they found more risk-reward players who were available for less than market value. As a result, Cromartie and Holmes were added to the roster for a fifth-round pick this year and a third-round pick in 2011.

"You can play it right down the middle and swing nice and easy, or you can take a shot and swing hard," Bradway said. "But all the risks are calculated. In some cases, there's a risk-reward that we're aware of before we make a decision.

"People might look at it as fantasy football, but what really happens is a tremendous amount of research that goes into all these decisions. Mike is really good at gathering all that information, getting all the people pulled in the right direction and making the decision."

Tannenbaum surprised many last week by not making a splashy maneuver through the first three rounds of the draft.

But he made headlines Saturday, when the Jets cut perennial Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca and dealt running back Leon Washington, a Pro Bowl kick returner two seasons ago, to the Seattle Seahawks.

"There's a lot of ways to improve your football team," Bradway said, "and I think what he has done, with his vision, is to work at every day and see if something makes sense. There's a lot of scenarios we talk about that never come about, but it's very stimulating conversation."

One prominent opposing team official contacted for this story declined to be interviewed, but before hanging up the phone stressed Tannenbaum shouldn't be lauded as some sort of mastermind visionary behind the Jets' success.

The official, while expressing deep respect for Tannenbaum as an organizational manager, claimed more credit should be given to head coaches Eric Mangini (now with the Cleveland Browns) and Rex Ryan and chief college scout Joey Clinkscales. The official lauded them for pushing Tannenbaum to pursue the players that make up the team's core.

"Mike is willing to be aggressive, and he deserves credit for that," the official said, "but somebody has to point him. He's not a talent evaluator."

Even so, Tannenbaum's intrepidness and faith in the support staff with which he has surrounded himself allows the Jets to make moves other teams seem to shy away from.

It's not like the Jets had exclusive negotiating rights on Favre, Edwards, Holmes or Cromartie. Other front offices had the opportunity to make similar -- or even better -- deals, but chose not to.

"If you like the player, go get the player," Wolf said. "It seems pretty simple between the two of us talking about it, but a lot of people don't do that.

"Why not take a shot? If you think the guy is good, why not take a shot? What's the risk here? The only risk is the guy's not good. If you go out and get four guys and only two of them play, shoot, that's two more than another team has. Even one out of four isn't bad."

NFLPA criticizes Ireland's lack of tact

April, 28, 2010
NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith has released a statement about Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland's suddenly infamous pre-draft meeting with Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant.

Ireland apologized Tuesday for asking Bryant if his mother was a prostitute. Bryant's mother had served time in prison for selling crack cocaine.

Smith's statement at reads:
We need to make sure the men of this league are treated as businessmen. During interviews, our players and prospective players should never be subjected to discrimination or degradation stemming from the biases or misconceptions held by team personnel. NFL teams cannot have the free reign to ask questions during the interview process which can be categorized as stereotyping or which may bring a personal insult to any player as a man. For the past year, active, former and incoming players have heard me speak about the expectations we have of them as members of this union, their teams, communities and families. It is equally true that the same kind of respect is demanded of their employers.

Report: More teams dispute Hernandez

April, 28, 2010
Rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez sure has gotten off on the wrong cleat in New England.

The fourth-round draft choice out of Florida hasn't signed his contract yet, but he already has felt compelled to release a statement through the New England Patriots to refute a report he tested positive for marijuana multiple times in college.

Hernandez's problem has gotten worse since he admitted to "one single violation of the team's substance testing policy over the course of three years at the University of Florida" and expressed he was "disappointed by the recent inaccurate report of additional violations."

The Boston Globe's Albert Breer cited three NFL teams in the original report of multiple violations hurting Hernandez's draft stock. Now Breer is reporting sources from five teams have substantiated the story.

Boston Herald writer Karen Guregian also is reporting Hernandez had multiple violations.

One team official couldn't give Breer the precise number of violations but said "It was absolutely, positively more than two."

Hernandez was considered the best receiving tight end in this year's draft class, and many analysts marked him as a second-round talent. Scouts Inc. projected him as a third-round pick. Hernandez was the sixth tight end off the board.

Hernandez responds to marijuana report

April, 27, 2010
In response to Boston Globe reporter Albert Breer's story that New England Patriots draft pick Aaron Hernandez tested positive for marijuana multiple times at the University of Florida, the Patriots released a statement from Hernandez.
"Leading up to the draft, I provided every interested NFL team with all the information asked of me about football and my personal life. I was as candid as I could possibly be about everything, including my one single violation of the team's substance testing policy over the course of three years at the University of Florida. That is why I was very surprised and disappointed by the recent inaccurate report of additional violations. I regret what happened, I learned from it and will make better decisions going forward. I couldn’t be more excited about beginning my NFL career and representing the New England Patriots well."

Hernandez was considered the best receiving tight end in the draft, but the Patriots picked him up in the fourth round. Breer reported three teams told him Hernandez failed multiple tests at Florida, causing him to tumble in the draft.

Dolphins GM calls Dez Bryant to apologize

April, 27, 2010
Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland has apologized for asking Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant an offensive question before the draft.

Bryant told Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports that Ireland, while probing the Oklahoma State star's troubled past, asked Bryant if his mother was a prostitute.

Bryant's background came under intense scrutiny in the weeks before the draft. The New York Times wrote about his mother, Angela, who went to prison for selling crack cocaine and abused marijuana, PCP and cocaine.

In an earlier Silver story, Bryant described the offensive question without revealing names:

"They asked me if my mom's a prostitute," Bryant said. "No, my mom is not a prostitute. I got mad -- really mad -- but I didn't show it. I got a lot of questions like that: Does she still do drugs? I sat and answered all of them."

In Tuesday's story, Silver identified Ireland and call wrote "Ireland seems like a strong candidate to be decreed the biggest jerk in the history of job interviewers."

Ireland phoned Bryant after Tuesday's story was posted and issued a statement through the Dolphins.

"My job is to find out as much information as possible about a player that I'm considering drafting,” Ireland said. "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."