Wednesday, June 5, 2013
101ESPN St. Louis audio: Outlaw program?
By Mike Sando
Two substance-abuse suspsensions, one DUI arrest and two one-game benchings have negatively branded the St. Louis Rams' 2012 draft class.
All off-field troubles are not the same, however. This situation lends itself to exaggeration, a subject I discussed Tuesday during my latest conversation with Randy Karraker and D'Marco Farr on 101ESPN St. Louis.
Of course, coach Jeff Fisher has long been known for taking chances on players in the draft. Someone somewhere asks him about Pacman Jones before every draft. And with the team selecting the previously troubled Alec Ogletree in the first-round this year, those questions are fair. Not fair: equating the various issues affecting the Rams' 2012 choices to this point.
Second-round choice Isaiah Pead and fifth-rounder Rokevious Watkins will indeed serve substance-abuse suspensions in 2013. These were one-game bans instead of the usual four-game ones, indicating neither player failed a drug test. Fisher's unusual public comments contesting the suspension against Watkins suggests additional mitigating circumstances at work.
And while Fisher did bench second-round choice Janoris Jenkins and fourth-rounder Chris Givens for one game last season, it's misleading to say either was suspended. They missed curfew one night on the road. Fisher decided to make an example of them. Neither player violated league policy. For that reason, it's a stretch to lump them in with Pead or Watkins as players who have faced suspensions.
Trumaine Johnson's DUI arrest is the most serious situation involving a 2012 Rams draft choice, in my view. Johnson, a cornerback the Rams selected in the third round last year, had been in trouble while at the University of Montana. He was back in Montana when authorities arrested him on suspicion of DUI.
There is zero correlation between alleged DUI and missing curfew.