The recent suspension of running back Isaiah Pead for the first game of the 2012 season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy was the latest example of a Rams player running into trouble with the law, the league or the team.
Guard Rokevious Watkins will also serve a suspension to start next season, cornerback Trumaine Johnson was arrested for DUI and cornerback Janoris Jenkins and wide receiver Chris Givens were both suspended for a game last year by the team. All five of those players were drafted in 2012 with Jenkins carrying serious character concerns and then the Rams claimed Titus Young off waivers earlier this offseason.
Young was dispatched quickly, but those with the impression that the Rams are taking too many risks in their personnel decisions got more fuel for their argument when the Rams picked linebacker Alec Ogletree in the first round a couple of months after he was arrested for DUI. The Rams disagree with that assessment.
“We’re not an organization of renegades. We’re not seeking to take players with issues,” COO Kevin Demoff said, via Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I think the perception is we’ll take anybody, no questions asked. That couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Having said that, Demoff went on to admit that the team probably has a higher tolerance for risk than some other teams and that comes with a heightened chance that the Rams will get burned by one of their choices. He also said that he, coach Jeff Fisher and General Manager Les Snead have worked hard to come up with ways to help their players avoid future trouble.
They’ll be texting and calling players during the break before training camp, which Demoff calls the “scariest six weeks of the year,” and Fisher had a Brinks truck deliver $1 million in cash to last year’s rookie camp as part of an exercise to show players how much of their money goes to taxes, agents and others rather than their pocket. All of that is deemed necessary because the Rams readily admit that talent trumps all when looking for players to acquire.
“You can’t win without talent. You just can’t,” Fisher said. “Second, you have to then go in and find out if there are character concerns. You have to identify players, examine then and then make your decision. There were a lot of players we took off the board. There’s a balance.”