Ryan Mallett sure can pick ‘em.
First, he gets advice from golfer John Daly, whose wisdom would be helpful only if it consisted of telling Mallett to study Daly’s life — and to do the opposite.
Second, Mallett gets some public praise from his former head coach, Bobby Petrino, who abruptly bolted from the Falcons near the tail end of one of the most difficult seasons that any NFL franchise ever has endured.
Petrino has gone on the record with Elizabeth Merrill of ESPN.com to claim that Mallett never tested positive for any banned substances while at Arkansas.
That very likely is a true statement. But we’d never take Petrino at his word on this one, or on anything important. For starters, college football coaches generally are full of something that’s brown, but not chocolate. Then there’s Petrino’s in-season betrayal of the Falcons.
And then there’s the fact that Petrino never, ever could admit that Mallett tested positive, even if Mallett did, due to strict privacy laws that apply to college students.
Petrino also attributes the perception of Mallett — Jamie Dukes of NFL Network recently called Mallett a “Caucasian street guy” — as a product of today’s age of texting and technology, and that all kids now talk in slang. But if that were true, then all kids would sound like, as Merrill describes it, a cross between Eminem and Billy Bob Thornton.
In the end, nothing Petrino or Dukes or anyone else publicly says matters. What matters is what the teams interested in Mallett have learned by talking privately to people who know him. Not just Petrino and his staff, but teammates and friends and classmates and training staff and janitors and secretaries and teachers and anyone else with whom Mallett came into contact. With so much money and so many careers riding on the proper exercise of a high draft pick, prudent teams do their homework.
When it comes to Mallett and every other quarterback at the top of this year’s draft class, only the most imprudent teams would pick him without spending a lot of time finding out everything there is to know about a guy who will be relied upon to play the most important position in the sport of pro football.