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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Will the Giants' William Beatty, the 60th pick overall, succeed?

Here's the reason I'm asking the question: Joey Harrington failed.

So why the analogy, you ask? Good question. Harrington was and probably remains a well-rounded individual. I recall stories when he was a senior at Oregon about his being able to play the piano at concert-level quality and how he joined the student body at basketball games, dressed up in a fright wig and helped lead cheers. Sounded like a great guy, a guy you would have loved to have had at your high school, a guy who was a real positive force around the campus. At the time, I actually loved the fact that he was an exceptional piano player.

Fast forward to Beatty, an offensive tackle out of UConn, a man who is an accomplished artist, who studies the bible, cooks, sews and paints portraits. Another Renaissance man, a well-rounded individual who is guaranteed to be a better interview than the average linebacker from one of the many linebacker factories who only can talk about getting to the quarterback and making tackles for losses. (You can read the article in today's New York Times about Beatty here). But the article brought to mind Harrington and something that I've always wondered -- who fares better, the single-track minded player or the player whose interests are diverse.

Look, Peyton Manning has proven himself to be funny in his commercials, and while he was a good student I doubt that during any discussions with pro teams he discussed the merits of Proust as compared to his aspirations for the Pro-Bowl. That Peyton Manning has succeeded results from his savant-like knowledge of offenses and defenses and his slavish commitment to being better prepared than anyone else in the game. In contrast, Harrington had other talents and interests. That's not to say, by the way, that Joey Harrington is a bad guy, didn't prepare well or any of that -- but he did have other interests and other things to draw upon.

Lawrence Taylor didn't. One-time Bengals' defensive tackle Mike Reid did. Reid, an All-American at Penn State, abandoned a reasonably successful young NFL career to pursue his real passion -- writing country music songs in Nashville. Give up the NFL, you say? Well, Reid did. In addition, an undersized guy like Zach Thomas excelled in the NFL because he was focused on one thing -- getting to the guy with the football. I hadn't read any articles in the national publications about Thomas's ability to do batik, carve wood or carmelize spare ribs and win a throwdown against Bobby Flay. That he was great was founded on many facts, one of which was a single-track mind where football was (and is) concerned.

So, I'm not writing to say that William Beatty will fail. To the contrary, he seems like a well-rounded guy with a good balance of family, faith and outside interests that should keep him sane once he gets burned on national TV. He also seems to be coming into his own, football-wise. Moreover, the Giants are known for building great teams and for evaluating players well (their won-loss record is prime evidence of that). So, obviously, my hypothesis doesn't concern them one bit.

But, somehow, deep down, I do wonder if anyone ever researched the topic whether there are certain tendencies among starters and all-pros that distinguish them from those who are back-ups, don't get off practice squads or out of NFL camps.


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