I guess if you’re an NFL Scout and you can’t find anything wrong with the top quarterback NFL Draft prospect in the country, you start grasping at straws.
This week, Sports Illustrated quoted an unnamed NFL Scout arguing his point that Mariota might be too nice for the NFL. “Like if you punched him in the stomach, he might apologize to you,” the scout said.
“I just don’t know if he’s that alpha male that you’re looking for. The kid’s kind of a fly on the wall kind of guy. Physically, he’s really talented, but it’s going to take a little time. If you’re expecting him to come in and be your savior year one, I don’t think that’s going to be it.”
Of course, NFL Scouts, and everyone else for that matter, are entitled to their opinion, but for the sake of argument, let’s explore this whole “too nice” thing.
Since surprising fans with his incredible talent at Oregon’s 2012 Spring Game, Mariota has done nothing but continue to win the hearts and respect of fans, his team and his coaches.
On the field, Mariota has “nicely” led the team to at least two straight 10 win seasons and is well on his way to leading them to a 3rd. Meanwhile, he has also managed to “nicely” slaughter the record books and now owns several of the records including: career total offense (10,417), touchdown passes (87), rushing yards by an Oregon quarterback (1,792), completion percentage (.665) and total TDs (108) (goducks.com). And the accolades don’t stop there. Nationally, Mariota leads the nation in pass efficiency having thrown just one interception after 8 games, despite playing at least two of those games with a very banged up and ineffective Offensive Line.
Aside from records and stats, Mariota has also shown he’s capable of leading the team from behind and rallying them to a win when needed. He simply does it in his own way. Mariota puts his team first and leads in a different fashion. He doesn’t rattle. He doesn’t usually get in your face. But don’t let that fool you. Mariota is intelligent, very competitive and at the end of the day, his team and coaches respect him and have full confidence he will make plays time and time again. Then, when all is said and done, Mariota shares success but humbly takes full responsibility for any defeat.
Off the Field, Mariota has proven to be gracious with his time, volunteering at a local boys and girls club and spending extra time with his teammates on the field after practice. He carries himself respectfully and takes time to “nicely” interact with fans. He follows rules and works hard academically (yes, he’s allowed to take Yoga and Golf, after completing his degree coursework already). He is, do I dare say it? One of the best and most loved college quarterbacks to ever play the game.
So Mr. Unnamed NFL Scout, I ask you this: Since when did being “nice” become a negative and how does it suggest you can’t lead a team or be an “alpha male”? Does that mean only the perceived arrogant and “mean” guys can lead a team? Does that mean guys like Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson haven’t had a successful transition to the NFL? If so, feel free to focus your sights on Tallahassee because you clearly haven’t spent much time around Mariota or much less talked to him or his team. If you did, you’d understand what the rest of us already do. Mariota has spent over a year focused on developing as a leader and he’s done an outstanding job. That’s ok though, go ahead and turn the other way. It’ll just leave more room for other scouts looking toward Eugene where “nice” also leads. . .and wins.