Eli Apple can’t cook, but that’s not the dumbest thing happening here

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It’s easy to point and laugh at some of the ridiculous things scouts can uncover about prospects, and how they get traction in a modern media cycle.

But at the same time, some of the things uncovered, and the importance attached to them, might explain why the miss rate on players in the NFL Draft is so high.

The easy punch line in Bob McGinn’s latest installment of scout-driven character assassination for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is the fact that someone thought the fact Eli Apple only eats takeout is pertinent.

“I worry about him because of off-the-field issues,” one scout said. “The kid has no life skills. At all. Can’t cook. Just a baby. He’s not first round for me. He scares me to death.”

Eli Apple is almost certainly going to be a first-round pick, which should give him the financial flexibility to hire a personal chef. Such that that matters at all.

That silliness aside, there are other parts of the article even more offensive, or at least they should be.

While Wonderlic-shaming has largely gone out of fashion (in part because the league has stressed to its partners how much they want it to go out of fashion), it’s back in full force here.

One of the courageous providers of inside information compared Baylor cornerback Xavien Howard to former Panthers cornerback Chris Gamble, citing his test score.

“That (mental) is going to be a key for him,” the scout said in drawing the correllation between the two players.

Gamble was also routinely degraded prior to his draft for his test scores, but was sufficiently able to play football for nine years in the NFL, earning a six-year, $53 million contract to replace his rookie deal. At no point in that career was his inability to learn football evident.

So not only should a comparison to Gamble not be considered a negative, scouts should be actively looking for more players just like him. Their employers would prefer a pick be used on a guy who can cover top receivers for nearly a decade over a guy who tests well and makes a mean meatloaf.

Any business that spends as much on employees as the NFL does has an obligation to vet those employees carefully. But the fact scouts spend so mental energy on things their tests can’t measure suggests a weakness in the process, not the players.

62 responses to “Eli Apple can’t cook, but that’s not the dumbest thing happening here

  1. Why is it wrong to not want an unintelligent player? Why are we so hard on these scouts? These are HUGE decisions with A LOT of money at stake. If Eli Apple is immature and some teams want to avoid him for that reason… who cares?

  2. Restaurant food in general, and fast food in particular leads to diabetes. Ask Patrick Peterson.

    It is a legitimate question.

  3. I would prefer the weed guys on my team over the alcohol guys. Give me the guy that’s staying in with close friends on the weekends smoking some herb vs the blackout drunk club goers. Wonder what scouts think when it comes to players substance use habits.

  4. bottom line, can you play football?!
    as long as youre not in the media for the wrong reasons or find yourself in a jail cell, all that matters is CAN YOU GET IT DONE ON SUNDAYS?!

    most scouts are over-rated anyway

  5. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I can cook it just usually doesn’t taste as good as whatever food I could get somewhere else. Not wanting cereal or a ham sandwich doesn’t mean you can’t handle yourself.

  6. I would destroy Eli Apple in a cooking competition it seems. I made some mac and cheese last night and it was glorious.

  7. Well you never know really. Perhaps he can’t cook because he spends so much time practicing and studying playbooks, working out, etc. Some people just cannot cook. Maybe he can fix his car when it breaks. Maybe he can easily patch a hole in a wall.

    People have different skills. He certainly plays football well enough.

  8. “That silliness aside, there are other parts of the article even more offensive, or at least they should be.”

    — No, they shouldn’t be. Only the easily offended would find this offensive. I’d be a little nervous about handing millions of dollars to a kid with zero life skills myself. For his sake more than anything.

  9. So…
    – intelligence (whether assessed through the Wonderlic or some other method)
    and
    – maturity (whether or not a prospect has had the maturity and intelligence to have the life skills to simply be able to take care of one’s self)

    are immaterial in the evaluation of whether or not a player will show up for work prepared, with a self reliant / dog with a frisbee work ethic, and fully capable of doing the large amount to learning and intelligent thinking on their feet necessary to succeed in the NFL?

    that’s crazy… of course teams want intelligent, mature players and don’t want a guy who needs a constant spoon feeding of football and work ethic mentoring.

    wow

  10. It is a legitimate question.

    ———————

    No, it isn’t. Many people can’t cook. Doesn’t mean they have no life skills. You think Tom Brady & Peyton Manning are cooking their own meals? This is about as stupid as it gets.

  11. I think the key part of that quote is about him not having any life skills. That would bother me too. Not to mention what eating takeout all the time would be like nutritionally.

  12. Eating fast food everyday/night, and not taking the initiative to learn how to cook for oneself, is alarming to me as a Steelers fan.
    This speaks to his dependency on the OSU athletic dept to feed him. At the age of 21, a kid should be able to cook at least basic dishes. The fact that he is too lazy to learn life skills tells me a lot about his character.
    I do not want my Steelers to draft this kid.

  13. savethebs says:
    Apr 27, 2016 12:37 PM
    It is a legitimate question.

    ———————

    No, it isn’t. Many people can’t cook. Doesn’t mean they have no life skills. You think Tom Brady & Peyton Manning are cooking their own meals? This is about as stupid as it gets.

    ________

    Peyton can make a chicken parm sandwich

  14. I don’t have a problem with that scout’s take. There are many ways to determine if a player has the maturity as a person to handle himself. We hear over and over and over players that end up missing meetings, missing team flights, simple things that “professionals” shouldn’t mess up, and they are always referred to as “immature”. Look at Ryan Mallett as an example. All of his missteps last year were labeled as “immature”.

    If a scout is having a conversation with a player, and concludes that this guy cant take care of himself, cant cook, cant do laundry, cant remember to pay his bills, etc etc etc, I have no problem with him questioning, “what will happen when this guy is a pro, with a big money contract, living alone, away from everything he knows…? Is it enough for me to pass on a first round player, probably not, but it would be something that I would want the team to monitor. And if you have too many guys on the team you have to monitor, you aren’t focusing enough on the task at hand, winning games

  15. As the great Bill Russell said when someone asked him if he’d ever draft or trade for a player who’s gay…”only one question. Can he play? That’s all that should matter.

  16. dukeearl says:
    Apr 27, 2016 12:24 PM

    Restaurant food in general, and fast food in particular leads to diabetes. Ask Patrick Peterson.

    Diabetes–Types I and II–is a genetic condition: if you are not genetically predisposed, you ain’t gonna ‘catch’ it, no matter what you eat. That being said, the ‘American Diet’ will increase the likelihood that those that are predisposed will develop symptoms, especially those predisposed to Type II.

  17. First, the only people who can’t cook are those with physical or mental disabilities severe enough to make it dangerous. Eli Apple can cook he just hasn’t learned how to, which frankly what college kid with a meal plan paid for by the school is going to be making his own dishes each night?

    It’s crazy to think that a college which promotes the fact that they will ‘take care’ of their players would then have some dumb scout come in and attack a player’s character because they are taking advantage of the exact thing the school promised them when they signed.

  18. I bet if somebody asked the unnamed scouts wife if the scout knows how to cook it would end with laughter!

  19. The process-shaming here is terrible…no wonder, given the article of this post. Look, we all understand that the draft is an inexact science…if there were a few magic bullets that perfectly revealed a prospect’s future, we’d be all set, but there aren’t. But the nature of SCIENCE is to attempt to isolate factors in order to determine their value. If you never even bother to consider a factor, you’ll never know whether it is of value or not.

    And pretending that Gamble’s outcome proves much of anything is the exact OPPOSITE of a scientific methodology. We don’t know why Gamble succeeded, and even if we did he would just be a single data point. The author shouldn’t chide people who clearly understand analysis better than he does.

  20. I wonder why this site continuously ignores the study that showed that the players that seem to have the most problems off the field (drugs, spousal abuse, assault charges, DUI’s) are the players that score low on the Wonderlic. To say that the test is useless and should be thrown out is ridiculous and ignoring this study is incompetent.

  21. This is completely normal, actually. If you notice, the guy writing this piece is from Milwaukee, who just watched Eddie Lacy destroy their season with takeout chinese.

  22. Scout and process shaming…. done by people who have never scouted, GM’d, or been in any important position for acquiring talent in the NFL. I guess these billionaires and an industry that has more resources available to it, understand less about red flags than a former attorney who runs a football BLOG for NBC.

    I love when people that have never done something, criticize those that have. For many, many years.

  23. digitalsasquatch says:

    Diabetes–Types I and II–is a genetic condition: if you are not genetically predisposed, you ain’t gonna ‘catch’ it, no matter what you eat. That being said, the ‘American Diet’ will increase the likelihood that those that are predisposed will develop symptoms, especially those predisposed to Type II.

    —————————————————-

    dead wrong, Diabetes can definitely come from overloading of the Pancreas with sugars (including alcohol) and fats, like you get with, you know take out food… simply drinking one can of non diet soda a day increases risk by nearly a quarter and the genetic marker for increased risk of diabetes is simply that, an increased chance, it’s not required for you to get diabetes

  24. Why is everyone here assuming the take-out that this world class athlete chooses to eat is McDonald’s and Burger King?

    It’s more likely he’s getting his meals from a local restaurant, where you can get something relatively healthy like a grilled chicken salad, salmon or sushi almost every day.

    It’s really not that unhealthy to eat take-out every day if you avoid the fast food joints. There are literally hundreds of regular restaurants capable of making something good to-go.

  25. Diet correlates with longevity.
    I worry about you the way that scout worries about Mr. Apple.
    If you can’t imagine yourself years down the road you’re going to be excluding variables, throwing cation to the wind.
    Diet, practice, sleep, routine, etc., they all have future mental and physical consequences.
    1st round I want to imagine that player producing in the league for a decade.

  26. Dude’s about to be a multi-millionaire. He can hire a personal chef (like many of these players do) to keep in tip top shape. I’d be much more concerned if he can break down plays or tell me what he sees when looking at the playbook.

  27. So, what you’re pointing out is Apple and (previously) Jones are not very bright. To hear the Ohio State fans tell it, only the SEC players are “taken care of” with the schooling and such.

  28. I don’t see anything wrong with worrying about a kid who doesn’t seem to have the daily living skills an adult needs. Sure, he can hire a cook for eating, but there is clearly so much more to daily existence than that. This is a kid that you are about to give millions of dollars too in a sport where immature multi-millionaires end up penniless. It doesn’t mean he won’t be able to fend for himself, but there is nothing wrong with questioning if he is capable of doing that.

  29. minnesotablizzard says:

    I would prefer the weed guys on my team over the alcohol guys.
    ========================================

    And I’m sure you don’t drink. If a study was done I have no doubt it would find that most dope smokers also get drunk.

  30. There is no “can’t cook” there is only “I don’t want to learn”. When shows like Good Eats, America’s Test Kitchen and the like exist, you have no excuse.

  31. For the millions that the teams will be paying them, they can choose to look at anything they want about a player. Any of you that think you can tell a scout what he can look at and what he can’t should stick to controlling your own business.

  32. A lack of self sufficiency, intelligence, and/or maturity should be red flags. They can all lead to making bad decisions on and off the field.

  33. Love how this article totally neglects Morris Clayborne. yup the guy who bombed the wonderlic, who also drafted in the 1st round who has failed to live to a 4th round grade.

  34. Yeah, well, I can make the living daylights out some tacos (and I’ll even sub in plain Greek yogurt for sour cream, as a token olive branch to healthiness; you’ll never know), can grill like a caveman, and even make a spectacular salmon chowder.

    I also probably clock well north of seven seconds for the 40. Maybe they want to draft me?

  35. Does anybody else realize that “not being able to cook for himself” is just an example of no life skills. It NFL teams are not going to draft Eli Apple its not just because he can’t cook. Talk about over react..

  36. randomguy9999 says:
    Apr 27, 2016 1:01 PM

    digitalsasquatch says:

    Diabetes–Types I and II–is a genetic condition: if you are not genetically predisposed, you ain’t gonna ‘catch’ it, no matter what you eat. That being said, the ‘American Diet’ will increase the likelihood that those that are predisposed will develop symptoms, especially those predisposed to Type II.
    —————————————–
    Diabetes II is caused from a bad diet….
    Diabetes I = Autoimmune

  37. That a guy can’t cook means nothing for his football career. If he really does eat takeout every day, that is a valid concern since a poor diet is not conducive to a long, successful athletic career of any kind. If he can’t cook but is happy to eat healthy food prepared by someone else, then it’s a non-story.

  38. Kwame Brown was drafted right out of high school by Michael Jordan (the Washington Wizards) and (surprise) without any support was eating at McDonalds 3 times a day. Now that is 15 years ago and basketball instead of football but the question is can any player stay on the field and produce better than any other player we can get right now with a +/- factor for payroll because of the cap and not be a locker room cancer. Because if you don’t have players you can’t win and if your don’t win you get fired.

  39. I wouldn’t be surprised if the the scout was referring to Trent Richardson when he made those comments. You can talk about guys like Gamble who were successes and then you have Trent who said.

    “its easy to be lazy in the NFL”

    He talked about being away from the college structure where your schedule was handed to you everyday and you just followed orders and that he was more comfortable with that regiment than the freedom the NFL allows.

    If you think of it that way I could see why the scout said what did. Its easier to hide you’re lack of “Life skills” when you’re a college athlete. You can’t in the NFL.

  40. This kid will have to change his game to play in the NFL. He won’t be able to hold all the time like he did in college.

  41. Amusing, to say the least. Most amusing is that it took to 3 pm with typing,etc. to note it might have been planned, regardless of accuracy. But, at least I think I learned a little about diabetes.

  42. Its the cooking comment that is taken out of context and so people miss the forest for the trees…

    As some have pointed out, it may not be relevant that a kid cant cook but it may be relevant that a kid has absolutely no idea how to care for himself when he doesnt have people holding his hand.

    A guy who lacks responsibility and maturity equates to a potential problem down the road

  43. “But at the same time, some of the things uncovered, and the importance attached to them, might explain why the miss rate on players in the NFL Draft is so high.”

    I think it’s the other way around pal.

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