Bob Ley, Host: April 9, 2000. Every year, NFL
are measured, timed and tested. But this year, the
focus is on one
Unidentified Male: Ray Lewis is accused of two
Harold Henderson, Executive Vice President, NFL
I think that generally clubs do pay attention to
character. And this has
heightened the attention that they will pay, and there
will be a little more
in the future.
Unidentified Male: Marv Levy had a great
saying. He said,
"Personality is what you do when everybody is looking,
and character is
what you do when no one is looking."
Ley: Today on Outside the Lines, the NFL draft.
Announcer: This is ESPN's Outside the Lines.
Joining us from
ESPN Studios in Bristol, Connecticut, Bob Ley.
Ley: It is a remarkable irony in a league where
rookies are tested and evaluated to the limits of
science, poked and
prodded like NASA astronauts, NFL teams say they
increasingly make draft
day decisions based on a most subjective quality, a
Now the NFL is not suddenly recruiting Eagle Scouts to
violent game. But the league has taken a body blow to
its image over
the past six months. And the logical argument that the
vast majority of NFL
players are certainly law abiding individuals runs
aground on the
chilling fact that two current NFL players are to be
tried on first degree
charges, one of them facing the death penalty.
But even the non-sensational - and isn't it saying
the domestic assault reports and DUI qualify as that -
non-sensational allegations against the players
accumulate. A total of 18
charged with crimes since September. And that's not
criminal charges brought against prominent college
Which brings us to the pressures this NFL draft week on
must weigh the crushing need to win now against whether
problems of a prospect will haunt a draft day decision
for seasons to come.
General managers and coaches making investments, in
some cases tens of
millions of dollars, and young players wondering if
those millions will
buy rare talent or more trouble.
Ed Werder considers this draft dilemma.
Unidentified Male: With the first pick of the
Indianapolis Colts select quarterback Peyton Manning.
Unidentified Male:: From Marshall University,
Unidentified Male: Quarterback Tim Couch.
Unidentified Male: Their choice in the fifth
round, Cecil Collins
from McNeese State.
Dave Wannstedt, Dolphins Head Coach: I can
remember when we
drafted Cecil in the fifth round, we talked about a
team that we felt
was close. We talked about a potential first-run
talent. Get him in the
But I can remember Jimmy saying, "Hey, the toughest
this call is going to be my reputation. You know,
that's what's really
at risk here."
Ed Werder, ESPN Correspondent (voice-over):
Jimmy Johnson, now
the former coach of the Dolphins, misjudged Cecil
Collins in last year's
draft. The consequences of such mistakes become all
the more obvious as
Collins sits in Florida's Broward County Jail.
Similar conditions in this draft carry a potentially
as the NFL's image has been damaged by the murder
against Baltimore Ravens Linebacker Ray Lewis and
Carolina Panthers wide
receiver Rae Carruth.
As this year's draft approaches, teams are particularly
even more closely scrutinizing potential character
Bill Walsh, 49ers General Manager: All it takes
is one or two
players who fail to conform to society on a ball club,
and it affects
everybody. So we can't tolerate that much.
Jim Fassel, Giants Head Coach: If a guy doesn't
have character -
and like I determine is if he doesn't have a substance
and a character
about him, a love of the game, to play the game, and a
about him, I don't care how good he is. It's not going
Floyd Reese, Titans Exec. Vice President/General
are some people out there that have a glitch in their
record. You have
to sit back and determine, now, what kind of glitch was
Was he a participant in a fraternity party someplace
really kind of obscure and yet he got thrown in the
middle? Or was he
the guy that stole the car or hit the gal or, you know,
whatever? And I
think you sit back and say, "Well, was he a part of the
problem? Or was he
Werder: The executive director of the NFL
Gene Upshaw, says he fears overreaction to the image
problem a league
Gene Upshaw, Executive Director, NFL Players'
have over 1,800 players. And those 1,800 players, we
have about 20 or
30 or so each year that seem to get in trouble.
That's going to continue to be. That's not going to
because that's just the way it is.
Werder: The league, however, has created at
least the perception
of concern. NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has
formed a task force
led by Executive Vice President Harold Henderson to
misbehavior by players.
Henderson also oversees background checks performed by
security. This year, teams have been provided
off-the-field behavior of 383 draft prospects.
Henderson: We generally acquire information
arrests, convictions, about incidents that have been
reported in the
media, incidents that the player will tell about, will
Werder (on camera): ESPN has learned that the
NFL does distribute
these incident reports to teams even as the league
insists it does not.
Henderson: It is the practice of our security
department if they
should stumble onto that kind of information to not
report it to the
clubs because it would be prohibitive.
Werder (voice-over): In addition, agents
interested in polishing
the image of their clients can be another problem.
Beyond that, NFL
scouts have become leery of college coaches who might
refuse to provide
full disclosure, opting to shield their players and
protect their own
reputations as well.
Reese: Before you could go to a coach that
would be in some kind
of a general session with personnel people. And he
would stand up there
and say, "This is really a good kid," and everybody
would be satisfied
I think those days are over. You know, there are some
can tell you that - and I'm not saying that they're
lying to you - but
it's how do you define a good person?
Walsh: We build these so-called monsters
ourselves because they
never have to account for their behavior through high
college. And I worry, really worry, about the job that
many colleges do
because a lot of inner city young men enroll in the
colleges with high
hopes and leave the colleges without much of an
education and without
having changed their values system, without having it
molded and them
moving on with their life.
>From age 15, they may have the same values they have
at age 28.
Fassel: Sometimes the guy is such a great
player and stuff, you
know, you might turn your back a little bit to it. But
I think people
are starting to realize you can't do that.
Werder: Florida State wide receiver Laveranues
Coles will be a
temptation for many coaches. His 4.17-second speed
makes him faster
than any Seminoles player ever, including Deion
Sanders. But his potential
must be balanced against his behavior history.
In 1998, Coles was sentenced to community service for
father's ex-wife during an argument. Last fall, the
$421 worth of
designer clothing he and teammate Peter Warrick
purchased for $21 cost
Coles his place on the Florida State team.
Reese: If he went from the first round to the
third round, that's
an expensive drop. And that's money, that's big money
they may never,
ever be able to make up. And to have that as a result
of something you
did a year ago or six months ago is really sad for
Upshaw: We're dealing with 19-, 20-, 21-year-old kids
that see the
world a lot different than we saw it at that same age.
Werder (on camera): Coles' nickname is trouble.
And it snugly
fits a player who just completed his second stint of
on Thursday and the next day met with the Jacksonville
Jaguars for what
ostensibly was a job interview.
Coles and other potential draftees will know next
weekend how much
their off-the-field behavior has cost them in terms of
But the teams will have to wait a lot longer to
determine if those players
were worth the risk.
For Outside the Lines, I'm Ed Werder.
Ley: In a moment, we will be joined by
Laveranues Coles and
Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick, along with
Kathy Redmond, a
critic of special treatment for violent athletes, all
on Outside the Lines.
Ley: Welcome back. The topic: character in the
And joining us from Baltimore, the head coach of the
Ravens, Head Coach Brian Billick. From Jacksonville,
State wide receiver and hopeful NFL draft choice
Laveranues Coles. And from
Denver, Kathy Redmond, who founded the National
Brian, let me begin with you. A number of NFL teams
players off their draft board because of off-field
issues. It's been
reported anywhere between six and 10 off the Denver
Broncos draft board.
Have you X'd out some players already for consideration
Brian Billick, Ravens Head Coach: Well, as
usual when you get to
this point in our evaluation, there are a couple of
players that we'll
look at, look at their history, look at their
culpability and whatever
instances that may have happened and just decide that
we're not going to
include them on our draft board.
Ley: About how many would you say that is this
Billick: Well, it would be hard to quantify.
You know, I
wouldn't want to put a specific number to it. There's
usually in any
given year between a half-dozen players, maybe a few
more, that you're
going to look it and just decide that they're not going
to fit the
parameters you're going to go with.
Ley: With NFL draft info, I know they're like
nuclear codes. And
if you want to dodge this question, you can. But
Laveranues Coles, is
he on your draft board still?
Billick: Yeah, Laveranues is a young man that
we've looked at, as
many teams have. It's a difficult dynamic because
you're talking about
things that happen to young people throughout the
And you don't want to make excuses for them. You don't
justify it. But by the same token, you're not going to
throw the baby
out with the bath water, so to speak, and put a stamp
on everybody that's
had any kind of incident whatsoever.
Ley: Well, Laveranues, you told ESPN The
Magazine that you
thought the Ravens had written you off. Is this good
news for you?
Lavernues Coles, former Florida State Player:
Yes, this is
very good news for me. I'm very excited about having
the opportunity to
try and get an opportunity to play in the NFL. So I'm
that they're considering me.
Ley: Let me ask you a direct question, why are
you here with us
Coles: I'm here to talk about some of the
incidents that has
happened and the character issues that a lot of us
athletes have had in
the past, and how a lot of athletes nowadays have
tarnished some of us
Ley: So you would put yourself not in the group
tarnished the other athletes?
Coles: Yes, I've kind of made a bad name for
myself and other
athletes also. I mean, we've all kind of fallen into
that mold of being
bad people. And I think that a lot of times a lot of
the mistakes we make
not just mistakes made on purpose. I think we all do
that's not to say unintentionally, but unintentionally.
And things are made
bad for themselves.
Ley: Kathy Redmond, let me ask you this. That
tape of the
shopping expedition that Laveranues and Peter had at
infamous. I'm sure you followed the progress of Peter
Laveranues through the Florida judicial system. What
was your opinion
of that trip through the judicial system?
Kathy Redmond, Founder, National Coalition Against
I felt that the judicial system worked rather quickly
when they were dealing
with Peter Warrick mainly because he was being
during that time, and suspended during the outcome of
the case. So I was
very amazed that the court system moved so fast when
most NFL players
and most college players can basically decide their
length of time that they
will spend in court.
Ley: I'm going to roll on a piece of tape.
This is Lawrence Philips
back in April of 1997 being picked up at the jailhouse
door having just -
actually, why don't we look at Lawrence Taylor actually
And there is Lawrence Philips coming out of jail, Dick
Vermeil is there, the
head coach of the Rams, to pick him up at the jailhouse
and take him off.
Brian Billick, would you have ever put yourself in that
to pick up a player at the jailhouse door?
Billick: Well, you have to look at
circumstances. For the most
part, you're talking about young people.
I've coached college ball as well as professional ball.
have a certain obligation to support your player, to be
somewhat of a
mentor or counselor hopefully and to help them move
through some of
these issues that they have to deal with.
What you can't account for is what their actions are
going to be
later on and that those actions that you do are
supporting anything that they might have done.
Ley: Kathy, your reaction to seeing a piece of
footage like that?
Redmond: Well, I know I've heard people like
Tom Osmond (ph) say
they're a father figure and they're a mentor and a
counselor to these
guys. What I know that my father, had that had
happened to me, would
not have picked me up. He would have let me rot there
Ley: Laveranues, you're now making the rounds
of teams. How
direct are the questions? Give me a sample question
that's been asked
across the table of you from teams about what you've
been through off
Coles: Teams will pretty much ask me. And they
let me pretty
much explain it in my own words what happened. They
ask me starting
during my years in high schools and then come on up
through my years in
college and talk about all the different obstacles I
faced off the
Ley: How much money do you think you may have
Coles: Probably quite a bit of money. I mean,
I felt like if I
had played this whole season, I probably could have
made it into the top
15 players draft. But being with these off-the-field
problems, I don't
know how far I'm going to slide. Hopefully, someone
will just give me
Ley: We had a quick look before at Lawrence
Taylor. Perhaps we
can roll that tape in again. And there's a piece of
tape that "Sports
Century" shot with Lawrence Taylor wearing the bandana
and the glasses
and sitting there casually dressed.
The National Football League asked for a copy of that
show so that
they could show it to NFL players and rookies basically
to how not
represent themselves at a prominent interview. And
Brian Billick, we
understand that at Cleveland this past week, when Peter
up for his interview, he wore camouflaged fatigues.
Can that - that has to
make an impression on potential employers if someone
comes in dressed -
and possibly as the number one draft pick - wearing
Billick: Well, you're going to use any number
criteria to measure the character is of a given
individual. As you said
in your opening piece, this is the hardest thing for us
We've got a plethora of data, whether it be 40 times,
You've got countless hours of tape and film that you
can look at about a
player and about his playing abilities.
But you also have to find out about the person. Now
interview coaches, family members, friends. But as you
their agendas, their views, can be somewhat biased. So
it's a hard
thing to cut through.
And all you can really do with these players, whether
currently in the NFL or coming into the NFL, they're
adults. They have
the free agency to do as they please. What you've got
to try to do is
counsel them to understand the environment they're
coming into and how
they put themselves at risk with a given behavior.
Ley: That's a big issue. As we continue, we'll
be discussing how
the NFL has been handling the off-field conduct of
players and looking
at some hard numbers and seeing whether the NFL is
We'll be right back.
Ley: We continue our discussion about the NFL
draft and character
with the head coach of the Ravens, Brian Billick, NFL
Laveranues Coles, and anti-violence advocate Kathy
Kathy, I'm going to put a graphic up for the folks at
shows the NFL having established a program in '97 to
conduct. Thirty-nine players in '97, 36 in '98, this
past year 28, 10
players total fined and suspended, the suspensions
within the last
month. What do those numbers say to you?
Redmond: What they say to me is it actually
looks like things
have gotten better. But what's really happening is
that their crimes
are getting worse, and people aren't reporting them
If you think as many of us, many of the victims are 18
to 24 years
old. They are not seasoned in the world. If you think
going to have the courage and guts to go up against the
NFL, then you're
They're not going to make the reports. We all know
And so they're not going to do it.
In fact, I have an agreement from a college that was
given to a
victim. And I have other agreements like this from
Division I schools, that say, "We will let you stay at
school if you do
not prosecute." That's the problem.
Ley: Well, Brian, your own boss Art Modell
said, "I just don't
think there's anything the league office can truly do
to help with this
problem." And Wayne Huizenga of the Dolphins,
when he looked at
those numbers at the recent meeting, came out, and said
they threw up
numbers, said they're making progress. It doesn't seem
You moderated the discussion with the owners at the
meeting. What did the owners want to know? What was
Billick: Well, basically it was an open
exchange of seeing what
the different clubs are doing regarding these issues.
I'm not trying to
diffuse the situation at all or pass off responsibility
of the league or
the club. But I think there's an incredible amount of
expended by the league and the individual clubs,
probably more so than
any other industry you could find, that want to address
What we have to understand is that we could increase
resources and focus by tenfold, and there are still
going to be
problems. What we can't do is give in to the
frustration and say, "Hey, no
what we do, it doesn't help, so why do anything?" You
can't just throw
your hands up and say "I'm not going to try anymore"
because what you
can't quantify is do the mentoring and counseling
programs that the
league and individual clubs do have - what you can't
quantify is how many
athletes, how many young men, have been in situations
potentially volatile, saw what was going on - maybe
something kicked in
from those counseling sessions - and removed themselves
conduct themselves in a certain way because of the
counseling that they've
Ley: Laveranues, in our taped report from Ed
Werder, we heard
Bill Walsh say, "We build up these so-called monsters
never held accountable from a young age for their
behavior." Do you
agree with that?
Coles: Some instances, yes. Some instances,
no. I mean, a lot
of us have had accountability for our behavior, such as
I. I mean, I
wasn't built up as a monster.
I failed my family and friends. And the people that
was around me
helped raise me pretty good, put a lot of character in
also, I feel like I did a good job with myself also. I
just stumbled quite
bit during my college years, before my college years.
Previously, I had no record or anything in my past. So
for me, I
just stumbled quite a bit at a very vulnerable time
when I was in a fish
So for me, I don't think in my instance that that is
But in other instances, yes.
Ley: Let's talk about accountability, Kathy
advocacy in this area comes from the allegations you
Christian Peter. You claimed you were assaulted
by him. You saw
New England draft him in the fifth r round several
years ago and then three
days later let him go. What was your assessment of the
decision to wait three days?
Redmond: I think what was happening is that the
expecting the public outcry that they got. And I think
where the power lies with the fans.
I believe the Patriots knew everything about his
like every NFL team does. And they decide to take a
risk. And I would
like to see someday where a team gets sued by a victim
for taking that
risk because right now these teams don't have any
And what I find odd is - and this could be addressed to
what I find out is have you ever heard of a coach's
daughter or a
coach's wife being attacked by one of the players?
That goes straight to
Billick: Well, I have a wife and I have two
obviously, I would take any action towards them by
seriously. But the question I would then turn around
and ask, whether it be
Laveranues or any other athlete that has had some type
that whatever the process, the legal process, they've
they've gone through whatever sanctions have taken
place, are we saying
that these athletes or these individuals, where do we
draw the line?
No, they're not going to be allowed in the NFL. No,
going to be allowed to become stock brokers. No,
they're not going to
be allowed to go any employment. Are we saying they
shouldn't be allowed
to go into any employment whatsoever with anybody
simply because of errors
that they've made?
Ley: Kathy, when is enough enough?
Redmond: ... Well, all I'm saying basically in
just response to
his question is if we treated everybody's daughter or
as we would our own, as the coaches would their own, we
wouldn't have the
problems because there would be no way that that player
would be allowed
back on that team had he assaulted or raped one of the
Billick: Well, I can promise you, Ms. Redmond,
whether it was a member of our administration, if
someone we knew
personally, we would take any violent action against
seriously. It doesn't have to be someone we know. We
do take this very
We have both moral and ethical obligations with regards
players, but just from a business standpoint. And I
don't want to
diminish the other end of it. We have a tremendous
amount of resources
extended to these players. And from a strictly
business standpoint, if
we don't think we're going to get a return from these
athletes because of
these off-field instances and they're not going to be
available to us,
we're not going to have these athletes here...
Billick: ... So besides the moral and ethical
business-wise, it's not good business to involve
yourself with these
types of people. So you can be assured that as a
league we'll address that
Ley: Brian, you - go ahead, Kathy. Quickly,
Redmond: ... But business-wise, though,
wouldn't it make sense
then that if an athlete commits a crime and you're
paying him a lot of
money and he might not be on the field because of his
crime, doesn't it
make good business sense to help cover that up?
Ley: One sentence, Brian, please.
Billick: Well, we're not going to try to cover
We're not going to counter due process. We're going to
let due process
take care of itself. And if greater authority than us,
whether it be
the league or the countries or the state or the
national government wants to
sanction these players, then we'll support that.
Ley: That's where I'll have to jump in. Thank
you very much,
Brian Billick, Laveranues Coles, and Kathy Redmond for
joining us to
talk about character in the NFL draft.
Outside the Lines will continue in just a moment as we
Sunday morning on ESPN.
Ley: Tuesday evening, Outside the Lines
Primetime will examine
the problem of hazing in sports from high school to the
Major League Baseball and the NFL. Two summers ago,
there was an
infamous hazing incident, and New Orleans Saints wide receiver Andy
McCollough describes it for Outside the Lines.
Andy McCollough, New Orleans Saints: They were
on him bad. He
was just getting hit with a left, with a right. I
mean, some guy had
like a trash can and a bag of coins. And as he was
running through, I just
was like, "Man, please let Louis, let him get
through this safely.'
Ley: "Rites and Wrongs: Hazing in Sports."
That's Outside the Lines Primetime this Tuesday evening at 7 p.m.
Eastern right after
And we'll have a final word on this Sunday right after
Ley: This reminder, if you missed any portion
of Outside the Lines on character and the NFL draft, you can catch the
re-air on ESPN2
in two hours at p.m. Eastern time. We will see
you here next Sunday
morning at 10:30 a.m. Eastern with our next edition of
Outside the Lines.
Send this story to a friend
BROADCAST OF SUNDAY, APRIL 9, 2000
Anchor: Bob Ley
Guests: Brian Billick,
Coles, former Florida State wide receiver
Redmond, activist against violence by
Featuring a story
reported by Ed Werder