Insensitivity 101

By Jean-Jacques Taylor
Updated: April 28, 2010

Dez Bryant

Dez Bryant

DALLAS – Miami general manager Jeff Ireland is a good guy and a well-respected man in the NFL.

Ireland, the Cowboys’ former VP of college and pro scouting, has interviewed thousands of players over the years. Until he interviewed Dez Bryant, the Cowboys’ No. 1 draft pick, Ireland had never asked a player whether his mother was a prostitute.

Clearly, the question was insensitive. On Tuesday night, Ireland admitted that in a statement. It was the right thing to do.

The reality is that the NFL put Ireland and Bryant in a difficult position.

The money has gotten so huge and the first-round busts so frequent that clubs feel compelled to inquire about every facet of an athlete’s life in a never-ending quest to ensure they don’t draft a player who doesn’t reach his potential.

The teams believe that if they’re going to guarantee a player who has never played in an NFL game, $30 or $40 million — sometimes more — then it’s their God-given right to know everything about that player.

It’s not. Some things are none of your employer’s business.

It used to be cute when the NFL asked players, “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? Or do you prefer cats or dogs.”

Now the questions have become too intrusive. The NFL has guidelines for behavior, and there should be guidelines for questions during player interviews.

If there had been, Ireland’s reputation would remain untarnished.