Chicago Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton was arrested back in December for assault and public intoxication stemming from an altercation with a bartender at Chill Sports Bar & Grill in Grapevine, Texas.
Now, the owner of the restaurant is suing Melton, according to WFAA-TV in Dallas, for "a sum greater than $1 million." Interestingly, Melton's legal representatives had been planning a lawsuit, too, as they had spent time in the weeks after the incident taking statements from witnesses in attendance at the bar the night of the incident.
According to the WFAA report, surveillance video shows a bartender instructing a patron to leave and a punch later being thrown.
Donald Payne, the owner of Chill Sports Bar & Grill, alleges Melton bit him during the altercation, according to his attorney, Darren Wolf.
"When he was asked to leave, his belligerence and unruliness turned into violence," Wolf told WFAA-TV. "It took four men to do this because he's a big guy. And in the process, my client Mr. Payne received a really, really horrific bite from Mr. Melton. He bit him in the side near the kidney through the skin."
According to Wolf, Payne visited a hospital for treatment. The attorney claimed Payne's ordeal extended beyond physical distress. A patron who claimed to witness the incident told ESPN.com in December that Melton "didn't really do anything."
"There's some psychological injury there," Wolfe told the television station. "The thought of another human being you don't know biting through your skin, piercing your skin: It's a pretty frightening experience, and it's dangerous."
According to the WFAA report, the lawsuit alleges that at the bar the night of the incident, Melton told restaurant workers he "was a millionaire and the bartenders were nothing but poor white trash."
"No different than yesterday," Emery said. "It's an ongoing process."
The Bucs released pricey veteran Darrelle Revis but signed Pro Bowl cornerback Alterraun Verner to a four-year, $25.5 million contract with $14 million guaranteed.
Tillman earned $8 million last season in the final year of his contract with the Bears but will be hard-pressed to find a similar market in free agency.
The Bears have made it seem that they want Tillman to return, although likely at a significantly reduced price.
Tillman started eight games for the Bears in 2013 until he landed on injured reserve (with the designation to return) due to a torn triceps muscle. However, Tillman never returned to action and finished the year with 52.5 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions and three forced fumbles.
Tillman is arguably the greatest defensive back in the Bears' history. Since he entered the league in 2003, Tillman is tied for fifth in the NFL in interceptions (36), tied for second in interception-return touchdowns (eight), second in forced fumbles (42) and tied for fifth in passes defended (132) .
If Tillman wants to continue to explore his options, he has a large network of contacts spread out throughout the league, including Ron Rivera and Steve Wilks in Carolina, Bob Babich in Jacksonville and Rod Marinelli in Dallas. The Washington Redskins remain in the market for a cornerback after missing out on former Bears special-teams standout Corey Graham, who signed a four-year, $16 million deal with Buffalo.
Chicago’s signings thus far in free agency certainly make such a move prudent. Although the Bears re-signed defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff and Nate Collins before the start of free agency, the club still hasn’t put together an enticing enough offer to bring back Henry Melton, who, according to a league source, is visiting Minnesota but also has several other visits lined up.
If the Bears can’t re-sign Melton or any other starting-level defensive tackles in free agency, they’ll certainly turn to the draft to address that need. Kiper sent Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan to the Bears at No. 14 in his first two mock drafts, writing in Mock 2.0 that “I’m a bigger fan of Jernigan in a 4-3 look, where he’s using his power to go through a blocker and not trying to beat people off the snap and use quickness.”
McShay chose Donald in his last mock draft, saying, "Donald is a perfect fit for the Bears’ scheme as a 3-technique defensive tackle. I don’t know if there’s been a prospect who has helped his stock more during the draft process than him. He was unblockable at the Senior Bowl, and that, put together with an unbelievable overall workout at the combine. He’s shorter than prototype size, but he has long arms and a powerful upper body and creates a lot of big plays with his anticipation and quickness. FSU’s Timmy Jernigan is a fit as a 3-technique as well, but Donald is a much better finisher as a pass-rusher."
Kiper and McShay have both been consistent throughout their mock drafts in Chicago's using its first-round pick to address the defensive tackle position, and from this vantage point they’re on the money.
Donald might actually be more of a fit than Jernigan at No. 14 because the Bears might benefit from pairing him with Ratliff next season. If Donald doesn’t pan out early, the worst-case scenario is he would provide depth at a position that lacked it in 2013 when injuries rendered the defense rudderless.
The Bears last season gave up the most points (478) and total yards (6,313) in franchise history as opponents put together 10 100-yard-rushing performances.
Uncertainty still exists along Chicago’s defensive line despite the signings of Ratliff, Collins and free-agent defensive end Lamarr Houston. The Bears need to add along the front four to avoid experiencing another catastrophe such as what they endured in 2013.
“I feel like I can make an impact right away, feel like I can come in and have trust in the coaches and playbook and make plays right away,” Donald said last month at the NFL combine.
At this point, that’s certainly what the Bears need in their attempt to revamp the defense.
Twenty-eight-year-old Willie Young fit the mold of what the Bears were searching for.
While the Bears never had serious interest in former Minnesota Vikings star pass-rusher Jared Allen, Young’s three-year, $9 million signing allows general manager Phil Emery to continue his mission of getting younger on defense, while at the same time stealing a productive player from the division rival Detroit Lions.
Young also has ties to Bears coach Marc Trestman from their time spent together at NC State.
To add some perspective, Julius Peppers was scheduled to earn $14 million in 2014 and eat up $18,183,333 worth of cap space. Young lands in Chicago at a fraction of the cost, and at six years younger than Peppers, figures to have a much greater impact on the Bears’ defense for the next several seasons.
Young probably isn’t a household name in the NFL, but the deal looks solid on the surface.
For all the criticism directed toward the Bears’ secondary in 2013, notably the safeties, the front four needed the most work in the offseason. Houston and Young represent a significant upgrade over what the Bears lined up last year at defensive end when the club barely managed to muster a pass rush or effectively stop the run.
The Bears simply weren’t in a position to wait and see when Corey Wootton recovered from offseason hip surgery to make their second move at defensive end in free agency. Maybe Wootton is back in the mix when healthy (June or July), but with a thin crop of defensive ends expected to be available in May’s NFL draft, the Bears knew they had to be aggressive in free agency in regards to the position.
The respective contracts of Houston and Young speaks to the dire situation the Bears found themselves in on the defensive line. In total, the Bears awarded deals totaling eight years, $44 million to defensive ends, while safeties Ryan Mundy and M.D. Jennings, linebackers D.J. Williams and Jordan Senn and wide receiver Domenik Hixon all received modest deals by comparison.
Instead of rolling the dice on older and somewhat more established defensive ends on the market, the Bears secured the bookends of their defensive line for the future.
In free agency, it isn’t always about reeling in the biggest names. It’s about making the moves that make the most sense for the health of the franchise.
Young's deal is worth $9 million, including $4 million guaranteed, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
The Bears also announced on Twitter they've agreed to a one-year deal with veteran wide receiver Domenik Hixon.
Earlier this week, the Bears reached agreement with Oakland Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston on a five-year, $35 million deal, according to sources. The team also released defensive end Julius Peppers.
"When we went into free agency, we felt that if we could find a way to get two starting defensive linemen we would have made forward progress," Bears general manager Phil Emery said. "We've been able to accomplish that. Our goal or our thoughts about defensive players is to get the toughest most aggressive, instinctive players that have a little bit of an old-school mentality, a Bear mentality and we certainly feel like Willie has those attributes. Excited about him being here."
Young, a former seventh-round pick out of NC State, received his first extensive playing time in 2013, becoming a full-time starter after Jason Jones
The Bears added five starters on offense last year and, as a result, the club experienced somewhat of a resurgence on that side of the ball with the unit gaining a franchise-record 6,109 net yards, in addition to the passing game setting single-season records in gross passing yards (4,450), net passing yards (4,281), completion percentage (64.4), passing touchdowns (32) and passer rating (96.9). The 2013 offense also finished second in team history in scoring (445 points).
Defensively, the Bears yielded drastically different results, as they allowed the most total yards in franchise history, in addition to giving up 10 100-yard rushing performances.
So now, it’s time to upgrade the defense. The Bears made that abundantly clear in free agency, as every acquisition the club made plays on that side of the ball. But given all the holes on defense, the club’s efforts in free agency up to this point haven’t been sufficient. More needs to be done. That’s why the draft is important.
Although it’s still up in the air as to whether cornerback Charles Tillman will return for 2014, the club still needs to find his heir apparent. But after cutting defensive end Julius Peppers, and adding Lamarr Houston from Oakland, the Bears are still in danger of losing defensive tackle Henry Melton and defensive end Corey Wootton via free agency. So reinforcements need to be added first along the defensive line, which was the main source of the club’s problems in 2013.
So expect the Bears to look at some of the top-tier defensive linemen, such as Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald or Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan, with the 14th pick in the draft, but the club could also help itself by acquiring help on the back end with players such as Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert or Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
Check out ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s Mock Draft 3.0 to see which players he thinks the Bears should target with the No. 14 overall pick.
Why else would the Bears let Melton take multiple visits to other teams -- including one to the division rival Minnesota Vikings -- when they could've snatched him up before the start of free agency?
If you remember, Grapevine police arrested Melton in December with the club on the road preparing to face the Philadelphia Eagles, and he was charged with assault and public intoxication stemming from an altercation with a bartender. Payne, the owner of that establishment, is suing Melton, which is interesting considering the defensive tackle's legal representation was also planning to file a lawsuit.
Asked about the civil suit Thursday filed in Texas against Melton, Bears general manager Phil Emery admitted he was just hearing for the first time about the latest development.
"If that's related to the situation down in Texas, I think that's been an ongoing issue in terms of that issue coming to conclusion and that's all I can talk about it," Emery said. "In terms of evaluating Henry the player, that's separate from that. His on-the-field is one thing in terms of evaluation. The off-the-field is the other. It is a part of it, but that's a legal issue, and that's all I need to say about that."
Will that affect the club's desire to re-sign Melton? Absolutely not, but it does give the Bears ammunition when forming a position about the level of compensation at which they'd feel comfortable paying Melton, not to mention the fact he's coming off a torn ACL. That's not a surprise.
Emery had already been planting the seeds for what's transpiring this very minute back on Jan. 2, and rightfully so, given the cap situation.
"Henry, in particular, he has got to fully dedicate himself to rehab. He has to fully dedicate his mind and his focus to football, which is extremely important," Emery said then. "And as I have sat down and talked to him, there was a reason we franchise-tagged him [last season]. There was a reason for that investment. The under-tackle position in the scheme that we're in is the engine that drives the defense. When he was in the game, even though from a statistical standpoint he wasn't off to a fast start, it was very evident on tape that he was a very important part of the defense. So he knows, and that has been related to him that we signed you for a reason. Now let's focus in on getting healthy, and obviously he has some off-the-field issues that he needs to make sure he's focused in on football and having a passion for football."
Emery makes several valid points. But let's keep it real here: If the Bears wanted to sign Melton badly enough, they would've made a concrete offer (they haven't, by the way) instead of waiting for his agent, Jordan Woy, to first find the defensive tackle's value on the open market. You can't fault the team for taking that position, though. At the same time, the fact is the Bears want to bring back Melton as cheaply as possible.
It's not happenstance that Emery on Wednesday mentioned that teams are "very interested in [Melton's] medical status."
Starting with the Minnesota Vikings, Melton is taking several free-agent trips according to a source.
"We pretty much left it with Jordan that he was going to go through this process, and when he got through it and he had a pretty good idea of what his market is, we could talk at that time," Emery said. "Of course, the clock is ticking. So our resources or what we have at the time may have changed. But we'll see where we're at when that's all finished."
If somehow it all gets 'finished' as Emery says with Melton winding up in Chicago, you can bet the defensive tackle won't receive anything remotely close to the $8.45 million the club paid in 2013, when it tagged the defensive tackle as its franchise player.
But given the club's recent signings of defensive ends Lamarr Houston and Willie Young, in addition to Jeremiah Ratliff, the truth is Melton could prove to be the missing piece that completes the puzzle.
“You can’t be timid during the UFA process,” said Emery, who also signed linebacker D.J. Williams and special-teams linebacker Jordan Senn this week. “There’s a lot of moving parts. You have to stay in it, you have to swing hard and be willing to reload and swing again.”
Sure, it is fair to question whether Emery was being a bit impulsive when he grabbed Houston, who has never had more than six sacks in a season, and signed him to a five-year contract that averages $7 million per season, after cutting Julius Peppers, who had seven sacks in a bad year.
But in Houston, Emery gets a 26-year-old who can consistently tackle people, no small feat here lately and the Bears’ biggest problem last season, in case anyone forgot. Teams generally do not risk getting the ball intercepted and their quarterback stomped when they can run at will. In fact, opponents ran against the Bears nearly 50 percent of the time (over the league average of 42 percent), which also no doubt slanted the sack numbers for Peppers & Co.
General manager Phil Emery believes the Bears could still find another starter in the coming days. Entering free agency, the belief among many was that several bargains could be found if teams were willing to wait. That scenario now seems to be playing out around the league.
Why? Because the landscape continues to change daily as teams decide to release players in order to create cap room to bring aboard other players. As the first wave of free agency wanes, the high dollars commanded by some of the players hitting the market will gradually decrease.
“This thing goes in waves,” Emery explained. “There is a first wave; that goes with signing your own players, which we did. Now comes the next wave where players maybe felt they were going to get a higher amount, then just found out that maybe their market wasn’t there and they’re a little more willing to listen.”
That could take place with players such as cornerback Charles Tillman and defensive tackle Henry Melton. Tillman is visiting with Tampa Bay, but the Bears remain committed to re-signing him, as Emery on Wednesday said that “with Charles, it’s an ongoing conversation.” Melton, meanwhile, is to visit to the Minnesota Vikings, according to a source, which added the defensive tackle is set to take numerous other undisclosed visits.
If their free-agent trips fail to yield anything fruitful, the Bears could re-sign them to cap-friendly deals.
Should the Bears wait out free agency even a little longer, they could still possibly find potential starters like they did last offseason with linebackers D.J. Williams and James Anderson. Williams signed last season near the end of March, and the team signed Anderson just two days later.
“There’s a third wave [of free agency] where players know they’re either going for the veteran minimum or a little bit above that and they’re just looking for an opportunity,” Emery said. “It’s kind of what happens after the college draft [of undrafted players], where players are just looking for the right opportunity.”
Could recently the released Julius Peppers return to Chicago in such a fashion? It’s a hypothetical question, but Emery won’t rule it out if it could take place at the right price.
“That could occur for a number of players in terms of coming to the Bears depending on what their market is once that’s been determined,” Emery said. “So we’re open. We’re always open to getting better at every level of our team and our roster. So any player, including Julius, if they want to have an opportunity to come back, and we can provide that opportunity -- meaning we have the cap space -- we're always open to it.”
At least Emery tried to, anyway.
“We released him, like we do with players,” Emery said. “There’s a good chance he’ll come back like we do with players. There isn’t anything other than that, just a process we’re going through. It’s a very fluid period. We like Dante. It isn’t anything he did.”
So why did the Bears release him? Emery still wouldn’t say, preferring to say “those reasons will remain internal.” But as Emery mentioned, the chaos of free agency makes for fluid situations that sometimes require quick decisions that outside observers might not necessarily understand. So Emery and the Bears probably deserve the benefit of the doubt in this case.
Rosario, 29, played in 15 games for the Bears last season, starting in three while participating in 186 snaps. As it stands right now, the Bears have only one other experienced tight end on the roster (Zach Miller) outside of starter Martellus Bennett. So as Emery said, there’s a good chance he could be back in a Bears uniform for 2014.
Just don’t ask Emery why.
“If we bring him back, those reasons will remain internal,” he said.
With the release of Julius Peppers and the Bears' last-place league standing in sacks last season, general manager Phil Emery addressed that concern quickly when talking about Houston, who had a career-high six sacks last season.
"He's a good pass-rusher," Emery said. "When I looked at him versus the players that we have on our team, his two-year combined total disruptions is higher than anybody on our team. And I know I've used that word disruption and there are a lot of variations of what that means ...
"The research from 2008 on [shows] when a pass play is performed without pressure, without a knockdown, hit or sack, the percentage of completion is about 64 percent. When there's a sack, obviously it goes to 0. But with a hit or a pressure, it goes to 38.5. So those are significant when you talk about disruptions of a passer. And he certainly has had those."
And Houston, Emery emphasized, was targeted by the Bears because of his versatility, his tackle totals (tops in the NFL for defensive ends playing in the 4-3 over the past two seasons combined) and his ability to play against the run or the pass, both standing up or with his hand on the ground.
"I think that's very important," Houston said of being an all-around end. "Sack totals are important in this league and mine haven't been the highest, but I know that I will prove to everybody that there's a reason I'm here and in the future, it will tell you how good of a player I can be with this group of men and how good of a group we can be together."
What does it say that the Bears put such faith in the 26-year-old former second-round draft choice out of Texas?
"That they believe in me," Houston said. "They believe in what I can do, they have a use for my skill set, and I think doing that is only going to help me get better and improve my game."
Also introduced to the media Wednesday, safety Ryan Mundy vowed to compete for a starting spot with a physical approach to the game.
"That's been my M.O. for as long as I can remember, since I started playing football," said Mundy, who signed a two-year deal. "I'm not a guy who's going to shy away from contact. I like to get down there, mix it up with tight ends, running backs, might even run into a few linemen here and there.
"I think that's the No. 1 attribute I bring to the game. I like to use my size and strength and combine that with my athletic ability to get guys on the ground and get some third-down stops for our defense."
The 6-1, 209-pounder started just 14 of 80 games over five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Giants, but appeared in all of them, and started one of four postseason games he played, finishing with four tackles and two forced fumbles.
Emery said the Bears will continue to "look at safety extensively" in free agency, the draft and post-draft.
"I feel like I'm coming in here to compete for a starting opportunity, and that's all I can ask for," Mundy said. "I don't shy away from competition. I look forward to getting started with workouts and practices and everything like that. Nothing's set in stone, and I don't take anything for granted, I'm just excited about the opportunity and I'm ready to get to work."
Williams, a former first-round pick, never panned out with the Chicago Bears. He started 16 games at left guard last season and now will have a chance to step into that same role with the Bills.
ESPN Bills reporter Mike Rodak, ESPN Rams reporter Nick Wagoner, and ESPN Chicago's Jeff Dickerson discuss the signing:
Rodak: Nick, how did the Rams' line as a whole perform last season? Did Williams make it better or worse?
Wagoner: As expected, the Rams had their share of injury issues on a line full of veterans. They were mostly solid, especially after the team refocused on the run game. But they also had their share of struggles, especially when they faced the dominant front sevens in the NFC West. Williams was the weakest link of the group, though he provided more durability than any of his linemates. He held up OK, but those division foes especially had a knack for getting the better of him.
Jeff, you saw Williams early in his career and when the Bears first tried to make him a guard. Did you ever envision he'd land a contract like the one he got from Buffalo?
Dickerson: Not a chance. The Bears touted Williams as their franchise left tackle of the future when the team selected him in the first round (No. 14 overall) of the 2008 NFL draft, but he hardly lived up to expectations and is considered one of the Bears' biggest draft busts, along with Gabe Carimi, in the last seven or eight years. His chronic injuries and uneven play ultimately led to his release. To be fair, Williams turned out to be much better suited to play inside at guard, however, he was never viewed as one of the elite guards in the NFL, except by the Bills, apparently.
Rodak: Jeff, Doug Marrone is a former offensive line coach and has valued size among offensive linemen early in his tenure with the Bills. Williams (6-foot-6, 326 pounds) is a load, but how effectively did he use his size with the Bears?
Dickerson: Again, I don't want to make it sound as if Williams was a terrible guard, but he never had the reputation of being an ultra-athletic or ultra-aggressive offensive lineman. Maybe that changed when Williams went to St. Louis. Obviously, he has the requisite size to play inside. Marrone is a terrific coach. Hopefully it's a good pairing. But his size was never viewed as a negative or a positive when Williams played in Chicago.
Rodak: Nick, what was your sense on how the Rams valued Williams? Do you think they wanted to bring him back as a starter?
Wagoner: They had interest in bringing him back, though I think it's likely if he'd come back he would have either been a backup or, more likely, in a competition for the starting job like he was in 2013. To me, it made sense if they could get him back to serve as a swing man simply because he could play anywhere on the line except center. Having a player like that at a cheap price is pretty much ideal for a backup. But I don't think they were going to extend themselves too far to bring him back. Offensive line coach Paul Boudreau has a great reputation for taking reclamation projects and getting something out of them. Although this is another starter subtracted from the line, I believe the Rams feel they can upgrade the starter at this spot and develop someone else to fill a backup swing role he could have had.
Jeff, something that applies to the Rams and Bills, but you saw up close. The Rams look like they're going to have to do some quick work to improve the line this offseason and they may have to use the draft to do so. It seems the Bears were able to do that last year, what did you see in how they were able to turn it around so quickly?
Dickerson: General manager Phil Emery double-dipped in free agency and the draft. He spent big bucks to land left tackle Jermon Bush and reunite him with his old New Orleans Saints offensive line coach Aaron Kromer, and followed that up by signing guard Matt Slauson. Both turned out to be major upgrades over what the Bears had in 2012. Then Emery drafted right guard Kyle Long in the first round and right tackle Jordan Mills in the fifth round to complement veteran center Roberto Garza. It was a stroke of pure genius.
Wagoner: The Rams might need some of that genius in the next couple of months here though when they lean on Boudreau to be their offensive line whisperer of sorts.
Mike, obviously this is a move that has Jeff and I scratching our heads, and I know you feel that way, too. What was the need for Buffalo on the offensive line, how do you see Williams fitting in and what do the Bills hope to get from him?
Rodak: Nick, the Bills have told Williams that they want him to be their left guard. That was a problem area for the Bills last season, as they never found someone reliable to step in for Andy Levitre. The Bills are big on Williams' size and if it works out, then he'll be an upgrade over Doug Legursky, who should ideally be their backup center. With the contract the Bills gave Williams, he should be starting at left guard on Day 1. If he's not, that's a problem. They're not paying him to be a backup, although with his versatility, he could help as a swing player at several positions. It's a signing that addresses an area of need but also comes with an element of financial risk.
Trestman walks in, and in the hotel lobby, McCown had gathered the rookies for an impromptu film session in an attempt to help the inexperienced players digest the copious amounts of information they'd soon be trying to process on the practice field. As they watched film, McCown drew up the X's and O's on a grease board he'd borrowed from the front desk.
He'd pulled together everyone for film study without anybody ever asking him. Soon, starting quarterback Jay Cutler was doing the same thing with the rookies at that hotel.
That's the type of influence the Bears lose in McCown's departure to Tampa Bay. General manager Phil Emery once called McCown "a glue guy," while others within the organization have described him as "fatherly." That's why the team held supreme confidence in McCown's ability to get the job done in 2013 during the times Cutler was unable to play because of injuries.
Cutler will probably miss McCown the most.
"I'd like to see him come back," Cutler said back in January. "There are talks about him getting other opportunities, which I think, rightfully so he'll have. We've had candid talks about what he wants to do. I'll let Josh address that when he wants to. I know we'd love to have him back. I know Phil talked on it. We'd like to have him back in the building: Just the amount of work he does behind the scenes with the younger players and myself, just the experience he brings to the quarterback room, it's very valuable. The guys in the locker room are hoping we see 12 back next year."
They will, but McCown will be standing on the other side of the field playing for Tampa Bay -- possibly as the starter -- next season when the Bears host the Buccaneers at Soldier Field.
In weighing his options, McCown hoped for an opportunity to compete for a starting job, and it appears the Buccaneers will grant such a chance.
"To leave Chicago, it will be a situation where I'm looking to compete to start or to start, and be able to kind of grow more as a player," McCown said. "The only way as a player that you can do that is on the field. That will definitely be something that we are looking at. So we'll see. We'll see what opportunities come and where we are at tomorrow."
McCown is expected to receive a significant bump in pay from the one-year, $840,000 veteran league minimum salary he received from the Bears last offseason that included a $25,000 signing bonus and $5,600 workout bonus for a total compensation package of $870,600.
He'll be missed in Chicago. But Emery put it best Wednesday in reacting to the news McCown is headed elsewhere.
"We all want to congratulate Josh. He's been provided with a great opportunity to be a starter down there in Tampa. We're very happy for him and very proud for him," Emery said. "Obviously we look forward to competing against him on the field; very happy for him that he's had this opportunity. Josh has earned the right and respect to be given the opportunity."