My beloved Minnesota Vikings selected Florida wide receiver Percy Harvin with the No. 22 pick Saturday. Despite their needs at receiver, the Vikings’ pick has been labeled risky due to Harvin’s history of character issues.
I was aware Harvin had tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Combine in March. So did Calvin Johnson, Gaines Adams and Amobi Okoye in 2007 and each haven’t spent a minute in NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s office. Harvin’s other blemishes? A single-game suspension during his senior football season for unsportsmanlike conduct; a two-game suspension for an altercation with a referee involving foul language; suspension from his high school track team and all Virginia High School League athletics for a scuffle during a baskeball team where the referees were forced to stop the game with time on the clock.
OK, so I wouldn’t file his transgressions under “Irrelevant,” but I think you could relate many of his problems to a lack of maturity. Let us not forget Harvin is just 20 years old.
If nothing else, Harvin is highly competitive. He has experienced great success at all levels, dating back to a Pop Warner National Championship in 2001. It’s fitting he should end up alongside Adrian Peterson, who shares similar work ethic and freak athletic abilities. Peterson could serve as a positive mentor for Harvin, who like Peterson enters the league with serious questiosn about his durability. Character issues can be ironed out.
This isn’t the first major risk the Vikings have taken, either. Before Randy Moss — the obvious comparison — there was Cris Carter, who was kicked off the Ohio State football team and struggled severely early on his career with the Philadelphia Eagles. As each grew older, they found focus and realize their abilities were too great to go to waste. So, too, should be the case with Harvin.
So often these “character issues” get blown out of proportion. Who among us doesn’t know someone who has done worse than Harvin or Carter or Moss? Who among us has a DUI or an assault charge? Would these mistakes cause others to question our character? The reality is few of us are angels. We shouldn’t expect anymore of professional athletes.