“I guess it will be a little like going on the road in the SEC.”
That’s what Darren McFadden wrote on his blog prior to the Oakland Raiders‘ game against the Chiefs in Kansas City on Sunday. … a little like going on the road in the SEC. You gotta love that perspective. Either it says a lot about the intensity of SEC fans, or it says a whole lot about playing at Arrowhead stadium.
Just two games into his pro career, McFadden played like he’d been there done that, having his breakout against the Chiefs – 21 carries for 164 yards and a touchdown in the Raiders’ 23-8 romp over Kansas City.
I’m not surprised. I thought he was the pick of the litter in the draft, but he slipped to No. 4 – behind a couple of Longs (Jake and Chris) and Matt Ryan.
I understood the Ryan pick. Atlanta was in dire need of someone to begin making the locals forget Michael Vick; they had to go for the glamour pick.
I even get St. Louis passing on McFadden and choosing Howie Long’s kid at No. 2. With All-Pro Steven Jackson in the backfield, there weren’t enough balls in St. Louie for the both of them.
On some level, I get the offensive tackle thing. It’s the game’s unglamourous glamour position, the most critical on the offensive line. But, uh, with a talent like McFadden there for the taking, they flinched.
The Dolphins flinched at that old pre-draft, politically-correct nuisance called the “character” issue. Sure they’ll tell you Jake Long best suited their long-term needs, and they may not be 100 percent wrong.
But McFadden might have become the Dolphins’ best running back since – and I kid you not here – Larry Csonka, who retired almost three decades ago. Since then, they’ve handed the ball to guys like Karim Abdul-Jabbar (Kareem might have been a better rusher), Tony Nathan and, of course, Ricky Williams. Ronnie Brown? Please.
Those who knew McFadden best at Arkansas always described him as a “good kid.” Other descriptions were offered for some family members and associates. The “character” events that cost McFadden millions involved family members, the most noteworthy being an alleged fight at a piano bar in Fayetteville, Ark., involving him, his brother and a bouncer. Though McFadden was not arrested or charged he was briefly handcuffed.
This incident was on the heels of a paternity suit filed by a woman seeking child support for her four-month-old daughter. The test came back negative.
Finally McFadden decided to be candid about his life. One brother was a former Crip; another a former Blood. At least one brother has spent time in prison for drug-related offenses. He also said he would take responsibility for any children he had out of wedlock. (Did Tom Brady have to answer such questions for his own out-of-marriage offspring?)
In aggregate, the incidents and revelations sent up a Pacman Jones-sized red flag that reportedly scared off the Falcons, and maybe Bill Parcells, too.
One Parcells might be regretting now.
Then again, playing for the Dolphins would not have come close to playing in the SEC.
Photo by Reuters