Prior to the disappearance of Pro Football Weekly, its resident draft expert had been putting together scouting reports so frank and candid that they invited plenty of criticism for the criticisms levied against incoming prospects.
Last year, not long before PFW folded the tents, Nolan Nawrocki took a flamethrower to former West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. Two years earlier, Nawrocki played the “fake smile” card with former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton.
Nawrocki recently resurfaced at NFL.com. After first catching wind of the move, I assumed that the league-owned media outlet wouldn’t authorize similarly scathing assessments of players about to enter the league-owned league.
As usual, I assumed wrong.
Nawrocki is at it again, and instead of burying the negative information within the context of a balanced assessment of a player, NFL.com has carved out all the negative stuff for one full column devoted to the red flags of various top prospects. The information contains not only the objective stuff like arrests and suspensions but inherently subjective (and entirely unsourced) character assessments that deserve the scrutiny that Deadspin already has levied upon the effort.
As to Johnny Manziel, Nawrocki says the 2012 Heisman winner “[c]arries a sense of entitlement and prima-donna arrogance seeking out the bright lights of Hollywood.”
Jadeveon Clowney, per Nawrocki, “[l]acks discipline on and off the field and has had to be managed closely since he arrived on campus.”
Nawrocki plays armchair psychologist as to Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla, writing that he is “[o]verly emotional and prone to outbursts following a dysfunctional childhood that offered little direction and much confusion related to a divorce.”
It’s an awkward situation for the league. On one hand, the in-house media outlet needs to display independence in order to have legitimacy.
On the other hand, everything written by NFL.com necessarily carries the letters N, F, and L. NFL Media is the NFL, and if a writer for NFL.com is hammering future NFL players based on something other than instantly provable facts and without any type of disclaimers (which rarely appear anywhere on NFL.com), the NFL necessarily is hammering future NFL players based on something other than instantly provable facts.