When the Patriots selected Ryan Mallett as the 74th pick in the NFL Draft, there were a few choice descriptors that jumped into my mind. Idiot. Immature. Words that described Mallett off the field, yet nothing that took away from his play while on it. He's an incredible package when looking at his football skills. Great size, great strength, great accuracy. He can do it all. However, the only words I could think of to describe Mallett were negative and that's not fair to him. I don't know him. The only way I know of Mallett's character is via the media and I don't think they've been very fair to him.
The main event that pushed Mallett's character into question was at the NFL Combine when he gave forth a "weak effort" and was considered "arrogant." Those are the words the media has used to describe Mallett and those are the words that have been passed on to us as fans. We all believe Mallett is a terrible person off the field because of what the media is telling us. Watch the video yourself. Do it with an open mind. I don't see an arrogant person at all. I see a Patriot.
Mallett answers each question with a smile and with patience. Half of the questions related towards his character. He politely responded that he's "spoken about [his] issues with the teams" and said that he had no control over who continued to spread the stories (spoiler: the media spreads/reports the stories). He even answered those questions with a smile. For Mallett, issues of his character are between him and the team and that's reasonable. As Patriots fans, we all understand that personal matters should stay between the player and the team.
Mallett's asked if the interviews are more important to him than for other players and, instead of naming names, he responds, "I think interviews are important for everyone because you get to see the coaches and managers man-to-man." A general answer, yet it gets the point across. Sounds like a Patriot.
However, after being asked about his character for the thousandth time, Mallett repeats (again) that he has no control over the rumors that are being circulated and firmly says, "that's the last I'm going to talk about that." He had been more than fair with the members of the media. He answered the questions they asked him with great poise. He answered question after question about his character and he responded in a reasonable fashion. He's been honest with the coaches and he felt it was unnecessary to discuss with the public what he had already dealt with in private. Again, that sounds reasonable.
You can clearly tell that Mallett is frustrated that the reporters will only ask about his character and gives a laugh of relief when someone asks what he'll miss from Arkansas. He was a great sport and he stuck around. His biggest fault was taking up that attitude with reporters with whom he had no rapport. If Belichick stated, "that's the last I'm going to talk about that" about something like his feelings towards Eric Mangini ("Do you want to talk about the game?" Belichick said. "I'm not going to get into a postgame analysis here. Really, I've had enough of that.") or moving on from fourth and two ("I think we've talked all about that. Right now, we're on to the Jets.") then I feel like the media would respect that response and move on. However, Mallett does not have that same rapport with the media and was crucified for his (non)response. I don't think that's fair, but that's exactly what happened.
At the end of the interview session, there's a lull and you can hear the mediator start to wrap up the Q&A session until someone interrupts to ask the final question, accusing Mallett. "If you don't address this now, it's going to stay around." That's not a friendly question, that's more of a threat in my opinion. Mallett says that he's talked about the issue with the teams and then he thanks the reporters and leaves.
Watch the video if you haven't by now. You see a kid who's being asked the same questions over and over despite explaining the inappropriateness of the setting. He entertained questions and explained how he felt about the allegations- he just didn't want to go in-depth about what those allegations are. That's extremely fair. However, the media decided to roast Mallett for being arrogant. The same media that called Bill Belichick arrogant for skipping the media breakfast back in March and we all still love Belichick just the same.
Everyone close to Mallett says that he's a great person. Transfers aren't always nominated team captain, yet Mallett was a team captain in both '09 and '10. Mallett was praised for his leadership by his teammates. His coaches talk about his hard work and passion. Those that know him on a football level talk about how impressed they are with his football intelligence and motivation. Mallett's well liked by those that know him. Maybe we should take the opportunity to know him as a Patriot before we pass our judgment.
We all love Belichick despite his obvious shortcomings in the public eye. Let's give Mallett a chance.