There is a top draft prospect whose athletic ability is undeniable but whose character and integrity is being called into question this week. We’re not talking about Auburn
athlete quarterback Cam Newton and what was said in a Pro Football Weekly draft guide. We’re talking about LSU defensive back Patrick Peterson.
Earlier in the week ESPN revealed that they had evidence that Peterson, then known as Patrick Johnson, had offered to sign a letter of intent with Texas A&M back in 2007 for $80,000. A former assistant coach at A&M said the request came through a family friend of Peterson’s named Willie Lyles. A name which may ring a bell due to his involvement with Oregon.
That part of the story is interesting but Peterson’s subsequent denial of not only knowing Lyles but ever visiting Texas A&M is where things get interesting. See, Peterson in a August 2007 article on Rivals.com is quoted as saying he visited the school on the recommendation of a friend of his father.
That friend? Willie Lyles.
Cam Newton’s character, Wonderlic score and past transgressions have all been reasons why analysts say the Arizona Cardinals and other teams at the top of the draft shouldn’t select him. If that’s the standard by which he’s being judged don’t we have to use the same criteria for Peterson with what has come to light over the last few days?
Sure, he was a young kid and someone like Lyles was probably just trying to find a way to make a quick buck off of his great athletic talent. The problem is, it’s not the initial action that’s the issue. It’s the cover up that is the real issue (just ask Jim Tressell).
If Peterson had come clean upfront it’s forgivable. By allegedly lying on top of initial allegations just brings his character into question even more.
Young men make mistakes and this won’t define him or his career but it does have to concern teams like the Cardinals and others that are lining up to invest millions in him and his character.
If Newton is being picked apart for every character flaw shouldn’t Peterson too? Then again, no one is questioning Peterson’s ability to be a great NFL player like Newton’s. And that’s all that really matters when teams like the Cardinals go to the podium later this month right (insert sarcasm here)?