Football, Drugs and the Chicago Bears: A GM’s Perspective


Oct 10, 2011; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago Bears offensive tackle J

As the news broke about J’Marcus Webb’s run-in with the law, I spent some reflection time thinking about what this really means for the Bears…from the perspective of a GM, if I may.

Make no mistake about it, football is in the category of an “entertainment business”. It is big money and a major influence in our day-to-day lives; especially in the fall. A GM’s first priority is to field a competitive team that will attract followers, create a “buzz” (that is non-narcotic in nature). For those players that prefer the buzz generated from an illicit substance; well that would elicit a response from the fans, the league and yes, the law.  But really, how important is it in the overall scheme of things football related?

Lets look in our own underwear drawer for a moment and examine Jerry Angelo’s self-proclaimed system for draft selections. The full recipe from an Angelo perspective can be found here.  The short version:

1.  Football character

2.  Citizenship

3.  Durability

4.  Character

Angelo’s position was that drafting talent was maybe a little simplistic for my taste.  Everyone is talented, he states in his story.  I would agree if you were comparing them to …. say, me for example.  In my prime, I would run the 100 yard dash in about 15 seconds.  It has gotten much, much worse!  Forgive me, for I digress.  Note the redundancy in Angelo’s use of the word character.  There IS a difference in talent, albeit the differences are miniscule.  They are, however, observable and measurable.  Every year, in the combine, we measure and chart and compare and contrast and pontificate and well…it is a little over-the-top but it is good fun for many of us football nerds.  Instead, Angelo obsesses about an abstraction.  He should, in my opinion, but his results would seem to indicate his logic was flawed.  In all professions I have knowledge of, performance in an objective sense is the combination and integration of both skill and will.  Perhaps, Angelo was eluding to the difficulty of measuring the will of an individual for this attribute is the most difficult of all to wrap your arms around.

Well my experience has proven to me that these attributes all matter and then some.  Where GM’s make mistakes is in evaluation and prioritization.  That is to say, all of these attributes ARE important.  Can you measure them accurately?  Then, assuming the GM has made an accurate assessment, are you placing the proper weight on them to build a winning team through the draft?  My judgement and sense says that the Bears have not done so in the recent past.  One good thing about taking over a broken system, there is only one direction to go…UP!

So does smoking a little weed matter?  Even if you weren’t smoking, hanging around people who do or having it in your vehicle…does that matter?  Would you take the chance on the next multi-million dollar contract for a little buzz?  The NFL is intoxicating, literally and figuratively speaking it seems.  Well, I think it does figure in the overall scheme of things, however it is one of many factors.  A person’s effort and mental state of mind is the one thing that one can control.  A person’s effort and mind will ultimately decide what % of a person’s potential they will realize in their life.  GM Mouser says “you get out of life what you put into life”.  Pay attention J’Marcus!

The biggest thing I wonder about is a person’s long-term perspective and focus on the goal.  Goal oriented people tend to be more focused and successful than those that go through life as a pinball.  A person can have a great deal of potential and physical talent but will never achieve even a shadow of their potential if they alter their conscious self with the use of drugs…Ricky Williams or Rashaan Salaam anyone?  J’Marcus Webb has been constantly touted for his physical attributes, talent and athleticism.  Where did he fall down?  Well the gray matter between his ears continuously let him down.  I would say it was focus, or lack there-of, that has been his Achilles heel.

Drugs are not necessarily a cause, but rather an effect.  By that I mean poor judgment can manifest itself in many ways.  GM’s must look for the signs and use their judgement to make proper decisions.  Make good decisions, and good things happen.  Make bad decisions, bad things happen and those things often lead to unemployment.

I hope Emery has failed a bunch and has gotten most of it out of his system.  Most importantly, my hope is he is still learning.  That he is still sharpening his understanding of human nature and how skill and will fit together to make a football player.  Then how to measure it, rank it and select players that have a high likelihood of success.  If he is good at it, then all of Beardom will be the benefactors of his acumen.  If not, well there is always twitter.  Webb, I hope he is not using drugs and I hope he gets away from the people in his life that influence him in a way that puts his performance and career at risk.

So Bear fans, if you were GM how much significance would you place on a player busted with drugs?