A day after Louisiana Tech pass-rusher Jaylon Ferguson had his invitation to this year’s NFL scouting combine pulled due to a teenaged fight at a McDonald’s, his agent is speaking out.
Safarrah Lawson of STL Sports Group asserts — pretty correctly, we believe — that the league shouldn’t deprive players of the chance to show potential employers, aka team brass, that they’re remorseful and have grown from a past mistake.
‘A fight between two teenagers’
The NCAA’s all-time leader in sacks, Ferguson was involved in a fight at a McDonald’s early in his freshman year at Louisiana Tech, and also was cited for public intoxication in a separate incident.
Lawson maintains that Ferguson was given an appropriate punishment at the time for the fight, and has shown himself to be a good citizen since.
“We disagree with the NFL’s position with regards to Jaylon Ferguson. Jaylon is a great person who made a mistake 4 years ago before he started playing college football,” Lawson’s statement said. “He was involved in a scuffle that resulted in him being charged with misdemeanor simple battery. He received a deferred judgment and $189 fine, a proper punishment for a fight between two teenagers.
“Since that day Jaylon has been a fine and upstanding student athlete that personifies the things we are trying to teach our young people today.”
Jim Nagy, the executive director of the Senior Bowl, tweeted his support for Ferguson, saying he respected the league’s decision, but that Ferguson acted like a pro at the Senior Bowl and staff there enjoyed their time with the Conference USA defensive player of the year.
Totally respect how the Combine makes their decisions but the Senior Bowl was fortunate to have Jaylon Ferguson in our game. He handled himself like a pro all week and our staff enjoyed spending time with him. Stay positive, @JayFerguson45! #NFLDraft #seniorbowl pic.twitter.com/yvs7RpkEp9
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) February 14, 2019
‘No person is perfect’
Lawson’s statement argued that the league should not continue to penalize players like Ferguson.
“As opposed to penalizing and vilifying the future players of the league, we would hope the league would allow Jaylon and other similarly situated players the opportunity to prove to potential employers that they are remorseful, and have learned from their mistakes, accepted responsibility, want to be good role models and are better people now for it.
“No person is perfect, and people are entitled to second chances and opportunities and one would hope the NFL as an open minded Industry Leader, Diverse League and Business would want to see the best in their players, educate them and help them to mature, learn and be better people.”
At the end of the day, Ferguson, who had 67.5 in 50 games with the Bulldogs, won’t lose out on being drafted because he wasn’t at the combine — he’s considered a first- or second-round pick — and his agent is certainly biased, but Lawson’s overall point isn’t wrong.
Interview process is important
At its core, the combine is a job interview: why not let Ferguson speak directly to employers?
Ferguson will be part of Louisiana Tech’s pro day on March 19, and he can meet with teams there and at pretty much any other point, whether through official visits to team facilities or if a coach travels to work him out privately.
The fact that he can meet with teams in other ways sort of makes the NFL’s attempt at drawing a line in the sand with players who have had trouble in the past even more silly. If the league truly wants to show it is taking a stand on players with convictions, why let them be drafted at all? Or fine teams who put talent over character?
Telling a player he can’t spend four days in usually frigid Indianapolis being poked and prodded by medical professionals and herded from one drill and 15-minute interview session to another isn’t much of a punishment if it doesn’t affect his draft status.
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