As you know, in the weeks leading up to the draft, I was hoping we’d draft Tua. And I obviously got my wish. I think his upside is tremendous, and that counteracts his risk of injury. He’s exciting and young, and I think that is what we needed.
But… this isn’t really a “but” at this point, but rather a few things I’ve noticed recently that MAY start to be cause for concern.
First, Tua already has endorsement deals in place, and he’s already promoting Muscle Milk drinks. That is clearly his right and it takes nothing away from his athletic skills. But in the back of my mind, I have fleeting thoughts about his commitment. For the past two years, we’ve heard nothing except how this kid eats, breathes, and lives football. But somewhere along the line, his agent got to him and already has him endorsing products before he’s even in the league.
Second, Tua choosing Number One for his uniform strikes me as a bit egotistical. 13 and 12 are unavailable, but there are plenty of others. I would have preferred if he picked a more low-key number. His jersey is already a top seller at NFL.com, which is great for him and for the league and for Stephen Ross, who of course believes that popularity and goodwill are more important than winning.
Third, Tua bought his mom a car. I get it. All NFL rookies do this for their parents, and he’s entitled to spend his millions any way he sees fit. Somehow (not a shock), the media found out about this gift and it was all over the news.
So why does any of this concern me? My answer is that I feel it puts a target on Tua’s back. It gives opponents a little more motivation to go sack him. A little more umph in their step to show this cocky rookie that he’s not all that. It’s very early, and Tua certainly is not overdoing anything. But, he is raising some eyebrows. Choosing to wear #1 on his back sends a bit of an insulting message to other teams.
He’s attracting far more attention than any other draft pick. Again, that is outstanding for Stephen Ross’s main goal (public relations), but it doesn’t help win games.
So, like everything, we just have to wait and see how he does on the field. I have no problem with the kid having an ego (and quite frankly, we probably need that), but after two years of hearing how humble he is, it seems a bit perplexing to see the opposite. Let’s just hope his skills override all of my concerns.