GM Phil Emery’s silence at the combine a rookie mistake
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org February 24, 2012 7:36PM
Updated: March 26, 2012 8:11AM
INDIANAPOLIS — Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson was so reluctant to reveal anything of substance at his press conference at the NFL Scouting Combine that when asked to say anything about backup quarterback Matt Flynn he barely budged — acknowledging there’s a Matt Flynn who plays football for the Packers, but little more.
‘‘Well, he’s from East Texas, as I’m from East Texas — so that’s a good thing,’’ Thompson said. ‘‘Matt is a professional. He does a good job. Our policy is to try and keep all of our players … so I’m not going to stand here and tell the other 31 teams what I think about Matt Flynn.’’
Thompson said a whole lot of nothing during his 10-minute interview, but at least he was here to say it. In fact, already 19 of the 32 NFL general managers have had press conferences at Lucas Oil Stadium and more are scheduled for Saturday.
But Bears general manager Phil Emery won’t be one of them. While Emery is at the combine, he isn’t meeting the media, a rookie mistake that doesn’t bode well for relations between a beloved team and its passionate fandom that will turn on the Bears like a vicious Doberman if things don’t go well this season.
Unless Emery leads the Bears to five Super Bowls and wins three of them in 11 years, he would be well advised to find a way to answer draft-related questions without revealing whom the Bears are going to draft.
Almost everyone else does it. Kansas Chiefs GM Scott Pioli, a bunker-mentality Bill Belichick disciple and Emery mentor — ‘‘One of the finest leaders I’ve ever been around,’’ Emery said — was downright engaging in his press conference Friday afternoon. And Thompson was genial and forthright in explaining why it’s bad business to discuss draft matters in public.
‘‘I try to be informative but I’m … not going to tell any trade secrets up here while I’m here,’’ Thompson said. ‘‘I like to try to be honest with you, but I’m not going to give away any information that I think could be used against us.
‘‘I don’t think that makes a lot of sense. This is a very small fraternity in the National Football League, and once you get to Indianapolis with everybody here, it’s even smaller. I tell our scouts to listen and don’t talk.’’
Playing it too close to the vest can be counter-productive. The Bears, for instance, have been so obviously coy about their glaring need for a No. 1 wide-receiver.
‘‘We’re trying to get better at all positions,’’ was all coach Lovie Smith would say Thursday.
That kind of talk isn’t fooling anyone.
As Jay from Santa Claus, Ind., a caller on a radio show last week, said: ‘‘Anyone over 6-2 at this point is going to look good.’’
If the Bears aren’t going to listen to meatball fans on call-in shows, you know they’re going to listen to their quarterback.
Whether it’s enticing free agents Vincent Jackson, Marques Colston or Dwayne Bowe or using the No. 19 pick in the NFL draft, the Bears are looking for a big wide receiver.
To that end, Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd’s press conference Friday was of particular interest in Chicago. The 6-21/2, 220-pound Floyd has the size and ability to get the ball in traffic that should interest the Bears at No. 19.
Floyd spent much of his time in interviews with NFL teams explaining how he’s a changed man after three alcohol-related arrests while at Notre Dame. ‘‘I know the questions they’re going to ask,’’ Floyd said. ‘‘I’m comfortable in the position to answer anything.’’
What does he tell the NFL teams?
‘‘That you’ve grown from it. That it’s behind you. That it’s a mistake that happened … and that I’m moving forward,’’ he said. ‘‘I think I’ve grown a lot. Coming to the NFL I think you do have to mature a great deal because you’ll get behind in a lot of things [if you don’t]. Like they said, this is a professional sport and you gotta act like a professional.’’
It was a productive endeavor for everybody involved. The kid was honest, pleasant, didn’t tell us anything he didn’t want us to know — and left a good impression.
See how easy that is, Phil Emery?