Charlie Ward’s basketball interest kept Dennis Green from drafting him

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When considering the draft fate of a potential baseball player, the case of a former basketball player deserves consideration.

In 1994, Heisman Trophy winner and national championship quarterback Charlie Ward was available for the NFL draft, two months before the NBA draft. Ward had said that he could make no promises about signing an NFL contract, if he wasn’t drafted in round one.

Earlier this week on PFT Live, Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy (a former Vikings defensive coordinator) said that the late Dennis Green had considered using a first-round pick on Ward, but ultimately decided not to risk Ward not agreeing to terms.

After Ward went undrafted, Green offered Ward a contract.

“Whether or not he accepts it, that’s up to Charlie Ward,” Green said at the time. “A free agent contract is not very lucrative, but what it gives you is opportunity. If he’s interested in the opportunity to play in the National Football League, then he’d have that chance. If not, then he’d move on and we would also.”

The Knicks made Ward the 26th pick in the NBA draft, and he played basketball from 1994 through 2005.

For Murray, the challenge (if he wants to play football) will be to persuade the team that considers drafting him that he will indeed show up and sign a contract. Although many first-round picks end up being busts, that’s largely unavoidable. Wasting a first-round pick on a guy who never plays football is avoidable, and it’s the kind of unforced error that can get the guy who wastes the pick fired.

18 responses to “Charlie Ward’s basketball interest kept Dennis Green from drafting him

  1. I think Ward would’ve thrived in a west coast offense. I would’ve loved to see him back up Steve Young a few years then take over.

    My only fear was Ward’s frame. He missed a game his senior year because of a regular old sack. I’m not sure he could’ve withstood NFL punishment. I have the same fear on Kyler Murray.

  2. Michael Edits says: “Also, he was too short to play QB but not too short to play in the NBA. Yeah. Right.”
    ———————-

    The NBA had plenty of short PGs. Muggsy Bogues was 5’3″, Earl Boykin was 5’5″. Former all-star Isiaih Thomas as well as HOF Calvin Murphy is 5’9″. Charlie Ward was about average at 6’0″.

  3. The fact that no one even spent a low, late round pick on Ward shows that no one was seriously interested in giving him a chance to play QB in the NFL. To Ward, a free agent contract after the draft must have seemed like an insult, The decision to play basketball probably wasn’t that difficult.

  4. Charlie thanks god every day that the Vikings didn’t draft him.

    Saved him from being a part of the biggest joke franchise of all time in the NFL.

  5. The Vikings actually had TWO first round picks that year: #18 & #19

    #18 was CB DeWayne Washington who played in the NFL until 2005! Of the next 55 players taken after Washington only FOUR played in the league longer
    Two of them are in the HOF: Mawae, Larry Allen
    One will be a HOFer: Issac Bruce
    And the 4th was taken with the next pick: OT Todd Stuessie who played until 2007

    So say what you will about the Vikings and Denny Green, but he knew how to draft & develop players!

  6. And that would make Denny Green the only coach who genuinely avoided him because of basketball and not because of race. For those under 30 that sentence probably makes no sense to you but it was a VERY different time. the only thing i feel good about is that Charlie Ward likely made more money in the NBA, but if u subtracted the NFL prejudices of the early 90’s, then Charlie Ward would’ve been a Top 3 pick.

  7. The shocking part was the Vikings didn’t waste a draft pick on a QB. They made up for it in spades later on in the decade by drafting John David Booty, Tarvarius Jackson, Christian Ponder and Theodore Bridgewater. Qb’s has never been the strong suit of any Viking GM

  8. This is a great article. I didn’t know the Vikings reached out to Ward. It also made me realize that Murray reminds me a lot of Charlie Ward. Great stats, similar body type, and undersized for the position. Now I wonder how Murray’s measurables will compare to Wards.

  9. freefromwhatyouare says:
    February 16, 2019 at 4:01 pm
    Charlie thanks god every day that the Vikings didn’t draft him.

    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

    Post by the biggest green and yellow troll. Thanks for bringing such insight to this well written article.

  10. whatjusthapped says:
    February 16, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    The shocking part was the Vikings didn’t waste a draft pick on a QB. They made up for it in spades later on in the decade by drafting John David Booty, Tarvarius Jackson, Christian Ponder and Theodore Bridgewater. Qb’s has never been the strong suit of any Viking GM

    —–
    Congratulations on not having a clue about what the definition of “decade” is. Wisconsin public school education at its finest. Cudo’s to all the geniuses that gave a thumbs up as well. Btw, not one of the players this dope mentioned was drafted within 10 years of Ward.

  11. saw Charlie at a basketball tournament in Tally a few months ago and he looks like he could still play. A great QB but an even better man. FYI 6’2″ so plenty tall enough.

  12. whatjusthapped says:
    February 16, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    The shocking part was the Vikings didn’t waste a draft pick on a QB. They made up for it in spades later on in the decade by drafting John David Booty, Tarvarius Jackson, Christian Ponder and Theodore Bridgewater. Qb’s has never been the strong suit of any Viking GM

    ——————
    Not only were these guys not within a decade of Charlie Ward, as was already pointed out, but clearly omitting Daunte Culpepper drafted in 1999. Culpepper had a really good run until his knee blew up.

    2004 he had really good numbers: 4,717 yds, 69.2% Comp, 39 TDs, 11 INTs, 110.9 rtg, & 406 rushing yds. Blew out his knee in 2005.

  13. Love how free professes he doesn’t care about the Vikings yet two posts about a dude who was offered as a UDFA almost 25 years ago. Go worry about your temperamental qb and rookie head coach with their upcoming third place schedule.

  14. All-American Voltron says:
    February 16, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    And that would make Denny Green the only coach who genuinely avoided him because of basketball and not because of race. For those under 30 that sentence probably makes no sense to you but it was a VERY different time. the only thing i feel good about is that Charlie Ward likely made more money in the NBA, but if u subtracted the NFL prejudices of the early 90’s, then Charlie Ward would’ve been a Top 3 pick.

    ———

    38 year old guy here, and I have no idea what you’re talking about. Randall Cunningham was a 2nd round pick in 1985. There was a bidding war for Warren Moon in 1986. Andre Ware was the 7th overall pick in the 1990 draft. Steve McNair, Akili Smith, Kordell Stewart and many more were top draft picks in the 90’s.

    Ward wasn’t drafted because the NFL had an obsession with height for QB’s (Ward was 6 feet) and there were doubts about Ward actually choosing football over basketball.

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