Matt Stafford is the concensus best quarterback available in the draft. But despite his throwing for 3,500 yards and 25 touchdowns last year, the conspicuously quarterback-deficient San Francisco 49ers have declared him unworthy of their first-round pick. A team psychologist has found Stafford not-sufficiently willing to discuss his parents divorce in a draft combine psychological evaluation session, and coach Mike Singletary has decided Stafford lacks the mental stability to be a San Francisco 49er.
Who is Mike Singletary to call other people crazy? At least Stafford didn't drop his pants.
The incident came to light in a live radio interview Singletary did last week with Ralph Barbieri on KNBR. The interview is still online, and it's vintage Singletary. And I mean "vintage Singletary" in a David Letterman sketch kind of way. Coach is in full-scale, volcanic angry preacher mode by the four-minute mark, and the interview continues another full sixteen minutes in that same vein.
"If you're going to look at drafting a guy in the first round," Singletary says in the interview, "and you're going to pay him millions of dollars, and asking him about a divorce about his parents, if that's going to be an issue, then you know what, maybe he doesn't belong here."
Stafford was, in fact, asked about his parents' divorce in his 49ers combine interview. Stafford's account is that he answered the question, explained the psychological adjustments he made as a teenager to cope with the situation, and the Niners' team shrink pursued that Stafford might have "unfinished business" in coping with the matter. Stafford joked to Sports Illustrated, "I felt like, I wonder how much I'm being charged per hour for this?"
One wonders what criteria indicates that guys who aren't chatty in therapy sessions make poor NFL players. Some of the better players in San Francisco 49er history weren't on an entirely even keel. Charles Haley was, by all accounts, nuttier than a Peanut Buster Parfait -- and he won us two championships. "Hacksaw" Reynolds didn't earn his nickname by making emotional breakthroughs on a therapist's coach.
If coach Singletary wants players who play "physical with an F", he's better off with guys who are more comfortable knocking into another guy's sternum than telling some two-bit Dr. Freud about his mommy issues. And if the 49ers are employing a team psychologist, that particular shrink might want to schedule a little more time evaluating the head coach.
Joe Kukura is very, very sorry about that one joke and please please don't bust my kneecaps, Charles Haley.