By now, it’s clear that Eagles coach Chip Kelly really likes his former Oregon quarterback, Marcus Mariota. It’s also clear that Kelly has no knowledge of or regard for league rules regarding underclassmen who have not yet been accepted for early entry to the draft.
“I think Marcus will be successful whether he’s an NFL player, a banker, a teacher, a fireman, a policeman,” Kelly said Monday on 94WIP in Philly. “I’ve said it before about some other players, but if you can buy stock in a human being, you buy stock in that kid because he’ll always be successful in anything he does. . . . I felt lucky that I had an opportunity to coach a young man like that. When you listen to his [Heisman Trophy] acceptance speech, I think it’s maybe a sliver of what we got the chance to experience every day to be around him. He’s a special young man. I know I’m better person for being associated with him.”
Kelly’s comments follow last week’s glowing remarks about Mariota, whom Kelly pegged to win a Heisman Trophy as a freshman and whom Kelly said has a “gift for playing football,” that he’s “everything you want,” that he “can throw the ball, he can run,” and that he’s “the most talented kid that I coached in college.”
Here’s what the league’s anti-tampering policy says on the subject: “Club personnel who make public comments about the football ability or NFL potential of underclassmen who have not yet been officially declared eligible for the draft will be subject to discipline by the Commissioner.”
The NFL doesn’t aggressively enforce this specific provision. But the league tends to take notice when the violation becomes repetitive. While it’s probably not likely that Kelly will be fined, Kelly has two strikes against him on this one. It probably would be smart not to swing again.