UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen rubs a lot of people the wrong way.
He’s opinionated, cocky, and decidedly against Donald Trump.
But now his outspoken views could hurt his career prospects unexpectedly.
Rosen was billed as the sure-fire number one overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft back in 2015 during his freshman season.
He flashed elite physical attributes and tremendous poise. Rosen’s college career, beset by injuries and team underachievement, didn’t quite pan out as expected, but he still showed enough to be a top 10 draft pick.
However, some teams are wary of selecting Rosen because of his brash personality.
Thursday, ESPN “Pardon the Interruption” co-host Tony Kornheiser reacted to the report that NFL teams are wary of rich prospects like UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen — who could be picked as high as first overall in the upcoming draft.
According to Kornheiser, teams are afraid of Rosen because not only comes from money, but he is brash and perceived to be liberal because he once sported a “F*** Trump” hat while golfing at Trump National Golf Course.
“This is discrimination here,” Kornheiser stated. “Josh Rosen is rich. And he appears to be politically liberal. And because this is my side of the street, I’m going to say he’s half Jewish. Plus, he’s a quarterback. And that is the position in the league that is supposed to be the take charge role. You put that in combination, you scare all the coaches. This stuff scares coaches, because they think we can’t control him. And we want to control him. So I hope that he’s great and I hope that he puts it in their eye for this kind of thing. This is overt discrimination.”
Kornheiser’s assertion is ludicrous. In addition to the derogatory Trump hat, Rosen missed significant time with injuries, and came across as overconfident with some of his antics; he installed a hot tub in his dorm room.
NFL analyst Mike Lombardi voiced other concerns teams had with Rosen on The Ringer podcast network: “[Rosen] might like humanitarian work more than football…nothing wrong with that, but I don’t know where his values really lie.”
This is obviously a valid concern if a franchise is going to invest millions in a quarterback.
Rosen addressed concerns about his personality at the combine, but some saw his comments as defensive.
From The New York Post:
He is opinionated and has an edgy personality that will intrigue some and scare off others. His skills are obvious; his ability to lead a team and be the face of a franchise is less obvious.
“If they think I’m a good player, but not a good fit for their personality profile, you can respect that,’’ Rosen said. “I’m not going to present a fake image of myself. I think you have to be yourself. You have to be authentic. You have to show that you’ve learned and grown over the years. You have to own your mistakes. I’m trying to show who I really am, not who I’m trying to be, because I don’t want them to draft someone they think they’re getting and then not to get that guy. I think that’s also what your teammates want. Your teammates don’t want a fake shell of yourself. Teammates want you to be you every single day, so that you’re that reliable rock that they can count on.”
Ironically, Rosen’s comments about reliability run counter to the concerns front offices have.
Regrettably, Kornheiser’s ESPN colleague Jemele Hill chimed in on the issue, and infused her usual race-baiting commentar
From The Spun:
In her latest column, Hill points to reports that teams have concerns drafting Josh Rosen because the UCLA star quarterback is seen as too opinionated, especially when it comes to politics. Furthermore, teams have questioned Rosen’s dedication to football because he comes from a wealthy family. Hill likens that treatment to what black NFL players experience for being outspoken on social issues.
“Now while the scrutiny and questioning of Rosen hasn’t quite reached Lamar Jackson levels of absurdity, Rosen is unfortunately getting a taste of what outspoken, unapologetic black athletes experience all the time.”
Hill fails to realize that the scrutiny Rosen (and Lamar Jackson) is under has nothing to do with race or politics. It has to do with a team’s comfort level in a player being the face of a franchiseAn issue with Matthew Stafford at the 2009 combine highlights teams’ hypersensitivity toward vetting top-flight quarterbacks, irrespective of race or political bent.
By now, you should know that NFL teams are willing to get really weird during their interviews with draft prospects. We’ve highlighted some of the bizarre questions prospects have been asked in the past—questions that have all had us asking, ‘what the heck does that have to do with football?”
Which leads me to the point of this article. Ahead of the 2009 NFL Draft, there was a consensus that Matt Stafford was the best quarterback prospect available. The San Francisco 49ers held the 10th overall pick that year, so they understandably wanted to do their due diligence on Stafford.
Here’s where things got weird. The 49ers arranged an interview with Stafford at the NFL Combine. During this interview, the team psychiatrist needled Stafford about the divorce his parents got when he was in high school. According to Sports Illustrated, Stafford believed he had assured the psychiatrist he had adjusted well. Apparently that wasn’t enough for the shrink, who then told Stafford it sounded like he had “unfinished business” regarding the divorce. Stafford then wondered out loud how much he was being charged per hour for the psychoanalysis.
Shortly thereafter, Mike Singletary, then the head coach of the 49ers, went on KNBR (a bay area radio station) and expressed serious concerns about the incident. “If you’re going to look at drafting a guy in the first round,” Singletary said. “And you’re going to pay him millions of dollars, and asking him about a divorce about his parents, if that’s going to be an issue, then you know what, maybe he doesn’t belong here.” That certainly sounds like the 49ers removed him from their draft board after the interview.
The Stafford ordeal shows that teams are incredibly risk-averse when it comes to selecting a quarterback early in the first round.
Quarterback is the most important position in sports. He sets the tone for the entire franchise. If teams whiff on the right choice, the head coach and general manager often get fired, and the owner faces the wrath of the fan base.
If there’s any “overt discrimination” toward Rosen, it’s discrimination against high-profile quarterbacks versus the other positions on a football team.