It’s not just practice , athleticism , it is also about character , character, character and integrity ….

It’s not just practice , athleticism , it is also about character , character, character and integrity .
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By Tophatal

If you don’t believe character plays a part, in the determination of a player or should I say an athlete’s status , then think again . So much of what I’ve read by patrons within this domain, simply veers around ability , rather than looking at other innate intangibles . If one tends to overlook character and integrity in the belief that also isn’t a desired trait in an athlete , then that front office executive along with the coaching staffs in question , are liable to end up with egg on their face .

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Throughout the years teams within the MLB , NBA , NFL and NHL have made costly blunders by way of their draft choices by simply going after what they believe to be a great athlete , rather than looking at a number of other intangibles . With the 2013 NFL Draft set for April , from the 22nd to the 24th , it will be interesting to see how those teams go about making their choices as it relates to the franchises’ needs at the time . Already, there seems to concerns over a number of players and their presumed status . Perhaps, no more so, than it relates to Notre Dame defensive player and Heisman Trophy candidate finalist , Manti Te`o.

As good as Te’o was said to be for the Fighting Irish during the season , undoubtedly, it was the player’s apparent off the field issues that brought more attention and his claims that he was duped into an online relationship with a female he had never met, Lennay Kekua, whom he insisted was his girlfriend . Having come forward to profess his love for this female , Manti Te’o would then go on to inform us of the untimely death of his grandmother , and then, that of his girlfriend. What we now know , is that the whole episode as it related to Kekua, and played out chronologically, was false and littered with a great deal of perception on the part of the perpetrator and by Manti Te’o , who for some apparent reason, chose to play along with this charade . The individual in question, who engineered this deception, was a male admirer of the Notre Dame Player. Roniaoh Tuiasasopo, a closeted homosexual, claimed that his intent was simply to get the athlete reciprocate what he felt was a reciprocal emotional affinity with the athlete . Yeah , that’s the sort of horse-#hit you tend to read about when there’s said to be a psychologically imbalanced individual on the loose . ” I want him to love me , but , he doesn’t know I’m male and not female ” !

Notre Dame AD , Jack Swarbrick , jumped to the defense of the athlete without ever apparently obtaining a full explanation from Manti Te’o , as to his original statements about his now apparent imaginary girlfriend. Te’o , a defensive lineman and linebacker for Notre Dame, is thought to be a consensus top ten pick in the upcoming NFL Draft . . If Teo’s actions are not seen as a sign of the player’s lack of credibility and integrity , then can someone advise me, what is ? Because , with the young Irish player now claiming that his actions should not affect his draft status , as he should be judged purely by his accomplishments on the field .Granted , Manti Te’o was very good for his team throughout much of the season , but when it mattered most , both the player , team and coaching staff were simply nowhere to be seen , as Alabama , literally blew their opponents of the field in the BCS national title game with a rather embarrassingly lopsided 42-14 victory .

If Teo’s actions are not seen as a sign of the player’s lack of credibility and integrity , then can someone advise me, what is ? Because , with the young Irish player now claiming that his actions should not affect his draft status , as he should be judged purely by his accomplishments on the field .Granted , Manti Te’o was very good for his team throughout much of the season , but when it mattered most , both the player team and coaching staff were simply nowhere to be seen as Alabama , literally blew their opponents of the field in the BCS national title game with a rather embarrassingly lopsided 42-14 victory .

I do believe that Manti Te’o is likely to be a first round draft pick in this upcoming NFL Draft . However, the question remains , which team is likely to take this young man , given his lack of maturity , but yet, his undoubted skills ? We know that several franchises around the NFL are desperate for NFL defensive help , and at a wide variety of positions , beyond linebacker . At the end of the day, it will be left to the general managers and head coaches , to come to a decision which will undoubtedly have far-reaching ramifications for their long-term ambitions, no matter which way one seeks to look at this situation .

Well the “culling “ has begun in the NFL as teams seek to gain some exposure and placed themselves in a healthy position under the proposed NFL salary cap , which is likely to be in the region of $126.5 million for the upcoming season . And for several franchises , this may well mean having to rid themselves of several high-priced veterans , who are deemed no longer productive , or simply beyond the fact that their salaries are too much of a cap-burden , as they prepare for the upcoming draft.

Well, the story that was, and is, the New York Jets , shows no signs of abating . The newly appointed general manager, John Idzik , having succeeded. Within the franchise’s front office . Idzik , has remained tight- lipped , as to the immediate future of the team’s Pro Bowl corner-back Darrell Revis , and whether or not the player will be placed on the trading block. Yet, it appears that Tim Tebow’s future with the franchise , is now all but certain , that the player will be part of the cotillion of players who will be shown the door .

A disaster filled season for the Jets, was further evidence of the fact that Rex Ryan , as the head coach , had lost control of the team , was simply unsure of what his best lineup would be from week to week , never-mind the fact , he had no means of telling how diabolical a player , Mark Sanchez would continue to be over the course of the season , where indeed the starting quarterback was among the league’s worst performers at the position throughout much of 2012 .

Backups , Greg McElroy and Tebow , used in whatever ways thought up by then , offensive coordinator, Tony Sparano , was simply another indication as to how bereft of creativity the coaching staff just happened to be , but the mere fact that Ryan , himself, would continue to make excuses for the team’s poor performances , without ever once holding his players accountable . That pretty much summed up the entire Jets’ season , without adding to the fact, that team owner Woody Johnson chose to “ cry foul” , by stating that he was pressured into acquiring Tebow , by his front office, against his own reservations , which somehow , he just failed to communicate with former general manager , Mike Tannenbaum , who along with Rex Ryan , were the original proponents of what has now described, as one of the “more asinine trades” in recent NFL history . can’t say, that I would disagree with that statement at all ! As to where Tim Tebow’s future may well lay , is anyone really overly concerned at this juncture ? .

Riddle me this, name the NFL franchise which in this past season was amongst the worst performing defensive teams in NFL history ? If you guessed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , New York Giants , Tennessee Titans , New England Patriots or the Jacksonville Jaguars , you not be that far off in your estimation . The answer is , none other than the New Orleans Saints , who gave up a monstrous 440.1 yards per game which ranked the beleaguered franchise last among the NFL’s thirty-two teams. That figure equates to just over 7,000 yards over the course of a sixteen game schedule , and a record in NFL history.

The impasse between Roger Goodell , the Saints’ players , the NFLPA (union) , their animus towards the league hierarchy’s handling of the now infamous ” Saints’ Bounty” scandal , speaks volumes as to why the NFL commissioner has far too much power, in terms of his authority within the hierarchical setup of the league entity . And even with the rescinding of the suspensions of the four players centered within this scandal, you still get the feeling that this whole episode is far from over ! Saints’ defensive player, Jonathan Vilma , has yet to stop his legal action , pursuant of the NFL and Goodell , in which as a plaintiff, in his lawsuit at the Federal level for slander , libel , and defamation of character , for which he is said to be seeking punitive damages. Vilma , if anything has right to seek recourse in such a manner , as from the very outset Roger Goodell set out to be antagonistic , rather than being impartial , as the league’s investigators gathered their evidence , in some cases by dubious and surreptitious means. As defendants in this case , the commissioner and the NFL as a whole, have now either to, publicly issue some form of an apology to the player, or seek to settle this matter out of court.

Away from those legal issues , it would be fair to say , that in spite of the injuries , it would be fair to say that the New Orleans Saints had an underwhelming season , falling far short a number analysts and fans’ expectations . The fact that the team failed to make the postseason , falling short and completely out of contention not only within the NFC South, but also within the NFC , casts a giant shadow their 2012 sojourn. The franchise’s coaching staff at times , used a plethora of excuses for the team’s lackluster performances during the season.

With head coach , Sean Payton , having been reinstated ,after his year-long suspension mandated by the league , he recently re-signed with the franchise , “inking” a five-year deal , worth north of $42.5 million , including performance based, incentives and bonuses . That deal would make Payton amongst the highest paid head coaches in the NFL , ranking him alongside Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks , Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins and Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots .

As I alluded to earlier, the Saints’ biggest concerns were with their defensive corps , but yet, there was evidence there to suggest , that the team’s once prolific offense of recent years had now began to splutter , rather badly . Those issues I believe will be addressed in this upcoming NFL Draft by Sean Payton and the front office staff , headed by general manager , Mickey Loomis ! Last season , the franchise was expedient in addressing their needs , in a variety of positions, as they availed themselves of the talent available in that particular NFL Draft (2012).

For this upcoming draft , before anything is actually done , I believe that there will be some rather expedient decisions that will have to be made, as to the franchise’s salary cap issues as it relates to the team’s payroll ($138.6 million). The team will need to pare down , just off over $25 million to place themselves in a comfortable position to either re-sign a number of their impending free agents or pursue free agents in the open market , as well as meet their obligatory needs , as it relates to their payroll for the upcoming season based on the league mandated cap. Teams such as the Saints will be under the gun , as by 3:00 PM , Eastern Standard Time( EST), today , general managers around the league, will have to come to a decision, as to the contracts of their impending free agents , and whether or not to cut them or simply seek to re-sign at a lower base salary. “Capologists” , will now come into play as they seek to make a name for themselves inside of their respective front offices. In the lead-up to the NFL Draft they might just be amongst the most important employees inside an NFL franchise , as they are able to do from a financial standpoint can go a long way in saving a franchise tens of millions of dollars over a three or four-year time-frame .

Gainful employment sought, unwilling applicants need not apply. Yes, these are now the deafening tones now being heard across the entire NFL landscape. Can someone explain to me why Brandon Jacobs would seek to talk himself out of what was thought to be a fruitful position with the San Francisco 49ers ? It now appears all but certain , that the running back will be jettisoned by the Forty Niners’ front office headed by GM Trent Baalke. The franchise has already began with a slew of moves as they seek to create a comfortable enough cap space , before they embark on their off-season moves. One of the other much-discussed scenarios , has been that of the future of the team’s starting quarterback in the earlier part of 2012 , Alex Smith .

Having lost his starting spot , to understudy , Colin Kaepernick , who would then go on to guide the franchise to the NFC championship game and then on to a thrilling Superbowl 47 (SBXLVII) loss to the eventual champions, the Baltimore Ravens . The consensus seems to be that Baalke and head coach Jim Harbaugh may well seek to gauge the interest of any vested parties seeking to gain a veteran quarterback. From my own perspective , I believe that it would be in the Forty Niners’ best interest to retain Smith , rather than allowing the player to leave via a trade . The player, still has two years remaining, on a three-year $24 million contract , of which he is owed $15 million, and wherein , he is due to become a free agent in 2015 .

I certainly do not believe, any NFL franchise can operate competitively without a standout backup quarterback in the league today ! Doubt my word? Then simply look around at the depth chart of the franchises within the NFL and peruse the rosters of the teams in question and the backup quarterbacks at the coaches’ disposal.

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Picture gallery .

I certainly do not believe, any NFL franchise can operate competitively without a standout backup quarterback in the league today ! Doubt my word? Then simply look around at the depth chart of the franchises within the NFL and peruse the rosters of the teams in question and the backup quarterbacks at the coaches’ disposal.

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Picture gallery slideshow details below .
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(1) Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide (L), and head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish talk before the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game at Sun Life Stadium on January 7, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Alabama would go on to defeat Notre Dame 42-14 in a lopsided and embarrassing defeat for the then, number one ranked team in the nation . The win , garnered Saban his fourth BCS national title as a head coach of a college program. Gettty Images /Kevin C. Cox ….

(2) Manti Te’o (5) of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish warms up prior to playing against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game at Sun Life Stadium on January 7, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida. The player throughout much of the Irish’s strove to fight off questions concerning his sexuality , in the aftermath of it being revealed that the alleged female he was said to be involved , in a relationship , never existed . Ronaioh Tuiasasopo , a closeted homosexual with unrequited love fomented a charade , which somehow Te’o chose to play along with , even after revelations were made that Lennay Kua was never existed . Much ado about nothing ? Or simply the possibility of a high-profiled athlete not wishing to reveal a taboo in testosterone driven sport of college football, ” where a man must be and reveal , he is a man ” . Quite frankly , there has to be male athletes within the college game and NFL who are definitely gay , but who are simply too afraid to reveal their sexuality because of the stigma that is still attached to the lifestyle within collegiate and professional sports amongst male athletes . Getty Images / Mike Ehrmann …..

(3) Linebacker Manti Te’o of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish works out at IMG Academy on January 23, 2013 in Bradenton, Florida. Te’o is considered a top-ten consensus pick amongst the line-backers declaring their eligibility for the upcoming NFL Draft (2013) . Getty Images / J Meric ….

(4) New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan answers a question during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. The beleaguered head coach faces, and will be , under a great deal of pressure to resurrect the fortunes of a franchise that had a disappointing season (7-9) within the AFC East , having failed to make the postseason . With their being upheaval , within the front office , with the removal of former GM , Mike Tannenbaum , to be replaced by John Idzik who would then subsequently relieve offensive coordinator , Tony Sparano of his position. As if to complicate matters further there still remains the uncertain future of quarterback Tim Tebow , as the Jets seek to revamp their roster . AP Photo/Michael Conroy ….

(5) John Idzik talks to the media during an NFL football news conference introducing him as the new new general manager of the New York Jets, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, in Florham Park , NJ,. AP Photo/ Julio Cortez ….

(6) John Idzik, center, reacts while standing next to New York Jets owner Woody Johnson , left, and head coach Rex Ryan during an NFL football news conference introducing Idzik as the team’s new general manager, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, in Florham Park , N.J. AP Photo/Julio …

(7)FILE – In this Dec. 12, 2012 file photo, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell smiles during a news conference after the NFL owners meeting in Irving, Texas. Roger Goodell was paid $29.49 million by NFL owners in 2011, nearly triple his compensation from the previous year. Goodell earned $11.6 million in 2010. Throughout much of 2012 , the commissioner very much had antagonistic and contentious relationship with the New Orleans Saints’ organization , as well as with the NFLPA (union) . All, in all , after the rescinding of the suspension of four players , said to be involved in the Saints’ Bounty scandal , it should be acknowledged that Goodell has seen his once autocratic power diminish , somewhat . Of further embarrassment to Roger Goodell , has been his complete failure to enact the HGH testing protocols that had been agreed to , between the NFLPA and the league hierarchy. The commissioner insists that the edict will be carried out , but the never-ending delays have now drawn the attention of Congress’ House Oversight & Government Reform Committee as well as the Senate Commerce Committee and that of Senate Judiciary Committee . Having given to testimony to the congressional committees in question , it now clearly shows how incompetent the tenure of Roger Goodell has been since he succeeded Paul Tagliabue in 2007. AP Photo / L M Otero …

(8) Mickey Loomis , executive vice president/general manager of the New Orleans Saints, talks with Saints head coach Sean Payton, right, in the first half of an NBA basketball game between the New Orleans Hornets and the Phoenix Suns in New Orleans, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. AP Photo/Bill Haber …..

(9) San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick (7) and Alex Smith (11) talk on the sideline late in the fourth quarter of the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel …

(10) Brandon Jacobs of the San Francisco 49ers in seen here during a game played at Candlestick Park , in San Francisco , California ,. The veteran running back has somehow managed to talk himself out of a job with the franchise , after his continued sniping at the coaching staff and front office at his not being given enough playing time under the staff of head coach Jim Harbaugh. The player has since been cut by the franchise , with his immediate future somewhat uncertain. In an ironic turn of events, Jacobs’ former Superbowl winning teammate with the New York Giants , Ahmad Bradshaw was also let go by that franchise for salary cap reasons . AP Photo/ Mark Pettigrew …. ==========================================

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NFL news and news from around the league

NFL archived stories

NFL transactions

NFL free agents

NFL team salaries

NFL Draft 2013 & 2013 NFL Draft order

NFL Combine and news therein

NFL postseason results

NFL standings (division)

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New York Jets news

New Orleans Saints news

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NCAA football & College Football news

Notre Dame Football news

NFL Draft top prospects by position

Quarterbacks running backs —- wide receiver —- tight-end

corner-back —- defensive tackle

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Thao-Annie

That’s a hot piece of Asian-American ” persuasion ” Annie Thao .

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Reflection Eternal ….. Move Somethin’