Saturday, March 25, 2006

Vince Young - The Mistakes Continue

I could care less about the Wonderlic score of Texas QB Vince Young, who will be a first round draft pick, but what concerns me are the growing number of business mistakes "Team Vince" is making.

First, there was the decision to hire his family members as agents and business managers. There are many more experienced and talented sports agents, like Leigh Steinberg, who can make sure that Vince not only gets a great deal with a good team, but terrific sponsorship deals and TV guest spots as well. His family can't do that. They're banking on the idea that people will come to Vince, when they have to be agressive on behalf of Vince, who's now their client.

I can see a day when Vince fires his family. It's not desireable, but given that he hired them, the prospect is not avoidable.

Second, there's the down right stupid mistake of standing up key corporate sponsorship managers assembled for a meeting by former Dallas Cowboys Personel Director and now Analyst Gil Brandt during the week of Super Bowl XL. By stark contrast, USC Quarterback Matt Leinart attended those meetings, and undoubtely came away having establshed some very lucrative relationship.

Third, there's the choice not to perform at the NFL Combine. That's a far better place to show what one can do that the Wonderlic or Texas Pro Day, which leads me to...

His less than stellar performance, as reported by several news outlets, is not good for his draft prospects. I'm not focusing so much on his 4.58 in the 40-yard dash, so much as I am his throwing show. He reportedly waited for his receivers to come out of their breaks on patterns he's familar with, rather than showing that he could take direction by throwing on time to catchers he doesn't know, and running pass patterns he's not comfortable with throwing.

With all this, my unfortunate prediction is that Vince Young will fall to the middle of the draft. He'll fall right into the arms of the St. Louis Rams, though the Oakland Raiders could snap him up at the 7th spot. But if the Silver and Black don't take Vince, he's going to drop.

Oakland Raiders First: Black Head Coach, Black Offensive Line Coaches, Black Quarterback

I've checked with friends who cover the NFL to confirm this, but I can't remember a time when one team had an African American head coach, quarterback, and offensive line coach until now: the Oakland Raiders.

Earlier this year, the Raiders re-hired Art Shell to be their 15th head coach in the organization's storied history. Shell then went out and pulled in LA Rams Hall of Fame Offensive Tackle Jackie Slater (pictured in his Rams uniform) and Pro Bowl Tackle Irv Eatman (photo at left, from his days with the Chiefs) to coach the offensive line -- both are black. (While some reporters note that Slater has not coached for an NFL team, this does not mean he hasn't coached offensive linemen. He's ran his own clinic for several years.)

Noticing the New Orleans Saints gave up on a very good, capable, and mobile quarterback in Aaron Brooks, Shell and Oakland Raiders Senior Assistant Mike Lombardi went out and made a deal to dress him in the Silver and Black.

Now, the Raiders have African American representation at three of the organizational positions generally considered the most mentally demanding. It also bucks the current pattern of African Americans seemingly being "slotted" to defensive coach positions in college and the NFL. (And in baseball, where then-LA Dodgers General Manager Al Campanis made his now famous "blacks lack what it takes" comment on ABC's Nightline, no organization has had a black general manager, manager, and pitching coach at the same time, with the exception of the Negro Leagues).

In the NFL's past, the positions of quarterback, head coach, and offensive line coach were commonly held by European Americans, and while there have been and are black head coaches, offensive line coaches, and quarterbacks, never before has one organization had all three.

I personally think this is a major sign of tremendous social progress that should not go unnoticed.