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McPherson: A steal or a risky bet?

By Les Barnhart | April 20th, 2005

Adrian McPherson has accepted that he won’t be the first quarterback taken in this weekend’s NFL Draft but that doesn’t mean he is less of an NFL prospect. Ideally, he would be happy if his name is called on Saturday, the first day of the draft. McPherson enters the draft with more baggage than the usual prospect. This baggage comes from his college days at Florida State while under the tutelage of Bobby Bowden (who himself has drawn his share of disapproving glares from the NCAA).

McPherson had what has been called a “lapse in judgment” by supporters of the talented quarterback. Others (including the judicial system) called it a crime. That “lapse in judgment” came following the 2002 season, a season in which the then sophomore signal caller was named as the starter for the Seminoles. McPherson was charged with taking a blank check from a Florida auto accessories store and writing himself a check in the amount of $3,500.00. McPherson would confess to his coaches later in the week after it happened. During the criminal investigation surrounding the check, investigators stumbled upon the gambling (online gambling) which was rumored to include Florida State games. Because McPherson opted for a plea bargain (he pled “no contest” to all charges after a mistrial on the gambling charge), he ultimately ended his collegiate career. He tried to enroll at Tennessee State but when they refused to go to bat for him with the NCAA, he gave up that fight and found a home with the Arena Football League’s now defunct Indiana Firebirds.

Former NFL quarterback, Steve DeBerg, who at the time was the Head Coach for the Firebirds, urged McPherson to give the AFL a shot and considering the other options available to him at the time, he agreed. McPherson was the AFL’s youngest player ever at 20 years old. He easily won the AFL Rookie of the Year Award in 2004 after tossing 61 touchdowns against only 5 interceptions and also added another 19 scores on the ground. Now, before you get too excited, understand that the 61 touchdown passes was only 12th best in the high octane football league.

So the questions remain…Does McPherson, with only a brief stint in Florida State (a program not known for its quarterback development as it is) and a single season in the AFL (yes…Kurt Warner played there), have enough talent to play at the highest level? And with all the morals of a band of pirates and the lack of quality quarterbacks in the league, which NFL team will take a so-called flyer on McPherson? In a league that despite its own shortcomings and barbaric appeal, has drawn an un-waivering line against gambling? That in itself is a bit hypocritical considering the obvious ties to the very activity it wants to separate itself from. After all, why put out the injury list and punish those who lie about a player’s injury? For the fantasy leaguers, eh? That is what the NFL wants you to think.

The question about whether McPherson can play won’t be answered until he straps on a helmet and goes live against a defense ready to tear him apart like a pack of hungry dogs. How he responds and plays under those circumstances will speak volumes about whether he can play with the big boys. As far a team giving him a chance, it is hard to believe that if a team believes he can help them win even one game, he will get the opportunity. Considering some of the quarterbacks that have taken snaps in the NFL just since he last played full court football at Florida State makes you believe that his past might be overlooked temporarily or a team will believe that they can surround him with the “right kind of people”.

Personally, I have a hard time ever rooting for Florida State or Miami alumni, but since he didn’t actually graduate from FSU I find myself pulling for him. Now if he winds up in the NFC East wearing anything but burgundy and gold, I will be the one cheering for the pack of hungry dogs to get him.

Good luck, Adrian.


Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Les Barnhart

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