The adage says that the only bad publicity is no publicity and up until yesterday, that's the position that former Ball State Cardinal Nate Davis found himself in. Everyone's media darling in November, as the Cards rolled to a 12-0 record, there was chatter that Davis could be drafted in the first round. There were USA Today articles touting his ability to overcome his well documented learning disability. There were pro scouts on the sidelines, draftniks raving about The Gloved One, and the future looked exceptionally bright for the soft spoken junior from Bellaire, Ohio.
Unfortunately for Davis, the good came with a heavy dose of reality as the MAC Championship game, the GMAC Bowl, and a less than stellar combine began a free fall through mock drafts and a decrease of the chatter to almost non-existent levels. The folks championing him throughout the season as the next great savior for a team in need (See: Whitlock, Jason) were suddenly nowhere to be found. Davis was moving from darling to questionable to irrelevant in epic record time.
The next chapter in this Davis saga came via the WorldWideLeader on Wednesday as Jeffri Chadiha penned a fairly extensive piece on Davis.
The piece as a whole is insightful into the human center of Davis' football exterior. His work with disabled students at his high school, his work off the field to get to where he is, and his inherent ability to remain positive and somewhat grounded as people who have never met him pick apart any and everything about him is impressive. However, in true ESPN fashion, nothing is ever as good as it seems.
Chadiha loads his piece full of quotes and commentary from people that know Nate best. Stan Parrish and Brady Hoke as well as his current trainer Steve DeBerg all offer extremely positive reviews of Davis and his ability to succeed at the highest level of football. Also, and not surprisingly so, is commentary from one Jose Davis, Nate's outspoken brother and apparent de facto representation. Chadiha also rehashes the failures in the postseason as well as paying special attention to Nate's private workout, attended by only one team.
The major problem with the article comes from Chadiha's decision to run this particular quote, credited to an "AFC assistant coach":
"Some teams will rate him as a third- or fourth-rounder, but I just didn't like him very much. I love his passion, but it's hard to feel good about a guy with his size who's not a quick-twitch athlete. You'd like to see him have better accuracy or touch or some kind of intangible. I really didn't see that in him. Plus, I had a guy tell me he isn't smart enough to play in this league."
Really? You had me up until the very last line. A second-hand quote meets the standard of publication at ESPN? It's this sort of hackery that makes me happy rather than sad that many of these so called "journalists" will be out of work before long. Having said all that, and focusing only on the content of the quote, if it is assumed accurate, is totally ludicrous. "Not worth feeling good about"? Davis is precisely the guy worth feeling good about. Davis possesses something called work ethic. It's a rare trait in QBs who have been coddled, pampered, and protected from any sort of problem for their entire life.
Davis has earned his success the old fashioned way... he worked his ass off for it. And he worked harder than anyone else because he had to to even have the opportunity to showcase a God-given ability and talent that few possess. He didn't earn it because ESPN dubbed him amazing. He didn't earn it because Pete Carroll said so. He didn't earn it because he was on television every week getting fawned over. He earned it at a smaller school outside of the BCS where athletes are not demi-Gods and the odds of making the League are even smaller than the already miniscule odds at football factories like USC, Notre Dame, and Florida. It doesn't show up on a Wonderlic Test. It doesn't show up in a boxscore. It doesn't show up on the back of a football card. It shows up in results, and no one can argue those when it comes to Davis.
No one is saying that Davis is a prototypical QB. No one expects him to come in and win Rookie of the Year. But I have said from the beginning, and will continue to say now, that given the right coaching, the right situation, and the right sort of franchise attitude, Davis will be successful in the NFL. The proof is in Davis' pudding, and frankly, there will be a team that will want a little taste come draft day.
But general kudos and such to Chadiha for profiling an athlete worth profiling. Bad publicity or good publicity, at least they're talking.