The League


When Does Character Trump Talent?

With the Cincinnati Bengals picking up Chris Henry and Cedric Benson, where should teams draw the line between wins and character?

Posted by Emil Steiner on October 2, 2008 8:10 AM

Fogetaboutit: Today's NFL is a complete joke. The concept of team sport no longer exists in the most team heavy sport in existence. A receiver makes more ...

Frank : To Jaquiem, Whatever, you missed my point, i could have said, ne, nw, se, sw, but that would have made my comment longer. Anyhow, i wasn'...

Mark Maske: I am from a rough area too, when I was 19 I was arrested for sexual assualt on a 9 year old girl. I did my time and was able to grow and lea...

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Biggest Loser :

No team would ever admit it, but you need only look at the facts. You get no reward for last place even if your quarterback wins a Nobel Peace Prize. Winning is everything in the NFL and character means nothing except for public relationships.

Hayduke :

It's the new American way. Enron, Tyco, Global Crossing, Marion Jones, damn near any cycling racer, Bear Stearns, AIG, and of course pro sports. Truth, Justice, and the American way have gone the way of the Dodo bird. Deceit and lies from our leaders all the way down to local political greed heads have shown the way.

Teams will not draw the line, it's all about the brass ring! Show me the money!!!!

Jimmy Jam :

It's all about the benjis baby. Football is no different, just another biznass and success doesn't mean winning Ms. Congeniality, it means winning the Super Bowl and building a bigger stadium. Just look at America's team baby.

ron :

character does matter,look at the bengals who at one time had talent,youth and should have been one of the nfl's premiere teams.what kept them from fulfilling this promise were too many players with character issues off the field which reflected their performance on the field.the chicago bears had a couple of players with character issues the year they reached the super bowl,however they haven't come close to being the dominant team they were that year.they rid themselves of these players but their talent pool dropped off.randy moss was branded a player with chracter issues,what the patriots did was to surround him with players with strong character issues.moss became the ultimate teammate and was a happy and successful player.the bengals problems were that they had too many players with negative character issues.this year it will cost the head coach his job.

Hondo :

Characters count!

icky woods :

umm..."winning" at any cost? if you are talking about the bengals, maybe you should just say "cost" 'cause there certainly isn't any winning going on...

Busdriver :

This "character" issue and drunks in the stands is why I feel the NFL is loosing control of itself.

WorldView :

Unfortunately, character means little in our sports culture, not just in NFL, but in other sports too like NBA, college sports, even high schools, and trickling down.

Starks :

NFL has long since flipped into straight gladiator matches. Like that Bruce Willis movie The Last Boy Scout but you thought it was fake and that was for real.
The jokes on us with the game. All big money gambling drugs and vice gone are the days of sport if they really ever existed.

Palin's $ Shot :

If character didn't matter, then the bengals would have actually won a game. Since they're 0-4 I would have to say that it is completely relevant to success

Mark :

Character surely does not matter on Wall Street, in Washington, D.C., and at The Washington Post.

Care to name a politician with character?

How about a Wall Street banker or hedge fund hog?

Or do you believe the late-Mrs. Graham's daughter, Ben Bradlee's kid, and any other of the litany of Harvard-Yale-Princeton-Groton-Choate-Andover crowd would have secured a gig at the Post without Mommy's, Daddy's, and/or great-grandpa's last names as collateral?

Cheaters, liars, and thieves dominate our society on every level. Why should the NFL be any different?

Gretchen, NJ :

I may be in the minority here but I believe that character and morality are still keys to winning a championship at any level. Sure talent counts when it comes to winning a little but the bottom line you can never be a true champ if you don't have a team mentality. Look at TO and Randy Moss and Chad 86 or whatever the heck is name is now. They can be really solid players and make tons of money, but they're not champs because football is such a team sport.

Mark :

The value (sic) of character at The Washington Post.

"Lally Weymouth (born Elizabeth Morris Graham, July 3, 1943) is an American journalist who is the senior editor of Newsweek magazine. She is an heir to the Washington Post media fortune, whose properties include Newsweek.

"She is the only daughter of Katharine Graham and Philip Graham, both of whom were publishers of the Post. She is the sister of Donald Graham, the Washington Post Company's chief executive officer, and the mother of Katharine Weymouth, the newspaper's publisher. The company has owned Newsweek since 1961.

"Weymouth was a contributing editor at Newsweek from 1998 to 2001. Since 2001, as senior editor at Newsweek, she regularly interviews celebrities for both Newsweek and the Post."


Post Co. Names Weymouth Media Chief and Publisher

By Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 8, 2008; A01

"Katharine Weymouth, a granddaughter of the late Washington Post Co. chairman Katharine Graham, has been named chief executive of Washington Post Media, a new division that will oversee The Washington Post newspaper and its online component,, the company said yesterday.

"Weymouth, 41, will also serve as the newspaper's publisher, the fifth member of the Graham newspaper dynasty to hold that title since her great-grandfather, Eugene Meyer, bought The Post at a bankruptcy sale in 1933. She is the niece of Post Co. Chairman Donald E. Graham and the daughter of Newsweek Senior Editor Lally Weymouth and architect Yann Weymouth.

"Weymouth joined The Post in 1996 and has been vice president of Post advertising since 2005. She has served as counsel for both The Post and its Web site in addition to holding other advertising jobs at the paper. She is a graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Law School and practiced law at Williams & Connolly in Washington prior to coming to The Post."


Ever read the opinions and/or insights of Warren Buffett, long-time Washington Post investor and former member of the Post board, on the value, or lack thereof, of employing nepotism as the chief measuring stick for value? Word has it that Mr. Buffett is a rather wise and savvy man. Something of a sage, I'm told.

Or do Lally and Little Kathy simply have too much character to be judged by such a rigid standard?

But where are my manners! Do wish Lally and Little Kathy my best the next time you see them at a Georgetown cotillion. No doubt one of Chris Henry's cousins (or Michael Wilbon) will be parking the cars or serving the drinks.

Keep your nose high, your blood blue, and your qualifications for character genetically based.

Noups :

I think the Sam Antonio Spurs are proof that quality players with character can win a championship.

Frank :

Well, character of politians being in bathrooms, selling military to foreign countries, racism, deliberate acts toward the poor to keep them poor, pasters, priest making money using Gods name, paying off fannie mae while the corporate board walks away with millions in their pockets and now paying for the stock market while the rich walk away free....


Thank you

xNFLr watcher :

The character issue is exactly why I have stopped following the NFL. This has lead to much more free time and I have actually started to do constructive things for myself and my family with the extra time. My life has improved so radically that I have to say thank you to the NFL for allowing criminals and other individuals who have no moral compass or concern play in the league. My wife is happier with me, my kids are happier with me and I am happier not being subject to mood swings just because my team of criminals beat your team of amoral's.

Terry :

Character shouldn't be a matter. This is FOOTBALL not boyscouting, it is FOOTBALL. These are some bad as muthaf***s who rip each other up for pay and you expect they're gonna be gentle giants? Wake up. I want my football players ugly, mean and seething foamy mouth chewing gun powder ready to kill.
You think Dick Butkiss was nice. LT, the original one at least was a crack smoking mad man. Charles Haley, would torn people apart like chicken legs. They won mad Super Bowls and have characters of convicts. ITS FOOTBALL.

Neal :

Unfortunately, winning does trump character-especially in football. We wish that all winners could be like the Duke ACC basketball team - academic achievers, nice guys and winners! Or like NASCAR drivers that have to show character or their sponsors won't pay for their performance!
Alas, that is not the case in football where every other day it appears that a current or former NFL player has been arrested or shot! The NFL does embrace thugs - don't tell me they don't and that they players just happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Most of the players appear to be in the Rap and Hip Hop "frame of mind" - again, where the thugs are the ones most popular.

joel miller :

I am from the Bengals area (Hamilton, Ohio) and what seems to trump Character here is the football stupidity of Paul Brown's son (Mike/the owner) and Mike's willingness to give any Tom, Dick & Harry a 2/nd, a 3/rd & n/th chance. Character here is as important as it is to the party of equal rights, civil rights and human rights (the Democratic party) in their willingness to have their standard bearer be someone who ignored rampant racism in his church for 20 years and NEVER had the guts or leadership to speak out against it until he had to leave the church just to win the Presidency.

joel miller

Chris W :

I have never understood the mainstream media's obsession with trying to turn sport stars into virtuous paragons of morality. They are all Americans, their faults are ours. The argument that they make so much more money so they should behave different is elitist- now that you are a millionaire drink cappuccino in fine china.
Many of the same media critics are earning huge paychecks- I'm pretty sure if we demanded that a light be constantly shone on their private lives we would end up averting our gazes in disgust.


I am a Patriot fan and I would not want either of those 2 thugs on my team even if they were going to play for free.

AggyPryd :

Joel Miller:

"...Character here is as important as it is to the party of equal rights, civil rights and human rights (the Democratic party) in their willingness to have their standard bearer be someone who ignored rampant racism in his church for 20 years and NEVER had the guts or leadership to speak out against it until he had to leave the church just to win the Presidency."

Or to the leader of the Republican party who never apologized for vehemently opposing the King holiday until he realized that showing his racism could cost him the Presidency.

C :

Integrity and character should always be held in high regard. I am sure the gentleman calling himself "Terry" is a border-line retard and that is why he believes character doesn't count! It takes some sort of higher intelligence to value a man's character!!

jamie :

Ozzie, don't you have Randy Moss on your team? He's about as thug as you can get besides Travis Henry. I disagree with C in his criticism of Terry. Frankly I think that was the most honest comment on this thread. Nobody wants to admit it, but football players are paid gladiators. Well paid gladiators, but nonetheless athletes who capitalize on blood and a fierce persona. It's ignorant to believe otherwise.

Anonymous :

Sports is a business, period.
Some teams have the ethics of an Enron, some of an Apple.
Not sure any have the ethics of a Ben and Jerry's.

Important to keep in mind when financing stadiums, et al.


Jamie, How is Randy Moss more of a thug than Benson or Henry...why dont read a book and gain some foot knowledge or take some meds to get rid of your down syndrome

Curt :

Despite what your high school football coach said, football is NOT life. It's a game and for the NFL it's a job. That job requires a set of skills not always found in the ranks of well-spoken gentlemen. By the time they're suiting-up to take the field on Sunday, NFL players are past the age where seminars or coaches can mold their character. Rather than try to change the players, let's accept them for who they are and teach our kids to be selective of their role models.

Jim :

Money. The teams are only interested in making money and nothing else. If a trouble maker who is a good player makes them more money, then nothing else matters.

It used to be the better players, made the team. Now it is can a player who is paid less but is not as good make us more money.

Money. Money. Nothing else matters.

eomcmars :

As a couple other posters have stated, there's a stark disconnect between the premise of the article and the actual results -- at least in the case of the Bengals, the team featured in the article. If there were any truth to that premise, then you'd expect the Bungles to have won at least a couple games. Hell, a completely virtuous team could have gone 0-4 just as easily as they have.

Frank :

I wouldn't refer to these guys as thugs, only because if you were to take them over to SE, where the real thugs are in our city,they wouldn't last a day.

They make bad choices, pretending to keep it real, that damn peer pressure!!

Ok, now don't get me wrong here guys, but why is it, when black guys make bad choices they are related to as "Thugs", but when white guys make bad choices, they just made a "bad decision".

There really aren't any thugs in the NFL, if it were, they wouldn't be in the NFL, or better still graduating college. (Think about it)

Just a point of hmmmmmm.


Well from a business standpoint both Henry and Benson are moderately talented players and the Bengals are picking them up on the cheap, given the off the field issues. It's a philosphy that has worked out pretty well so far for Jerry Jones... The Bengals have played like crap so far and maybe these guys will show up come game time and earn a roster spot.

eddie :

Depends on the player, the coach, and the environment of the franchise. The Bengals and Cowboys have become the most notorious halfway houses for the NFL's bad boys. Cincinnati is a talented team that has been dragged into the cellar by Ocho Cinco's idiotic showboating and Henry's legal issues. On other hand, the high-flying Cowboys seem to have turned T.O., Tank, and Pac-man, into reformed team players. The Redskins are a team that seems to be reaping the benefits after Gibbs built a solid roster of players with strong character after years of faltering with egotistical hired guns. In the end, character goes a long way in creating a winner but even the most troubled players can be reformed in the right system.


I am so grateful that my Patriots dont deal with thugs. We are the classiest organization in the NFL and that is part of the reason why we are the most sucessful.

Jaquiem :

Frank, please don't ever generalize about where all the unsavory people in DC live. There are criminals everywhere in DC, not just in SE, where I live. I'm sick and tired of the nasty, condescending, meanspirited, and misinformed comments like that. Yeah, there's crime over here, but there are families and schools and grocery stores and people working and living their lives, all with the ignorant stigma of "everyone in SE is a thug" hanging over our heads. This is one SE resident who will no longer sit idly by and let people disparage where I live, ESPECIALLY when they don't live here and probably are afraid to know people who do.

former Dallas fan :

In todays NFL, talent definitely trumps character. Just ask the owner of 'America's Team', Jerry Jones. Wins mean everything; and that's that. It's the same in the NBA and MLB. When it comes to the NHL, if a guy gets out of line, he's usually put into the boards, I mean place fairly quickly.

Fogetaboutit :

Today's NFL is a complete joke. The concept of team sport no longer exists in the most team heavy sport in existence. A receiver makes more money being a jackass than doing his job. What kind of message does that send. Be a football player and you to can act like an idiot. My kids are learning to play soccer.

Frank :

To Jaquiem,

Whatever, you missed my point, i could have said, ne, nw, se, sw, but that would have made my comment longer.

Anyhow, i wasn't saying everybody in SE was a thug, that would very ignorant of me, however, i find your comment ignorant, and small minded to think i was talking about all of SE.

By the way, Im from the hood, NE Crew (used to be), but i've matured now, and have a family.

So, i can back up and make shut up!!!

My point was purely to the gentleman that referred to blacks in the NFL as thugs.

I could have used LA, NY, or any euphamisum, but as i said obviously your intelligence was not on point.

Take care of yourself homey!!

Mark Maske :

I am from a rough area too, when I was 19 I was arrested for sexual assualt on a 9 year old girl. I did my time and was able to grow and learn from my mistakes. I think its time these NFL players start doing the same.

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