In the wake of the recent disclosure that Dolphins director of football operations Jeff Ireland asked Oklahoma State star receiver Dez Bryant (pictured) if his mother was a prostitute during a pre-draft interview, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith echoed criticism aimed at Ireland and the Dolphins for the inappropriate nature of the question.
Ireland himself apologized to Bryant for asking the question, calling the new Cowboys receiver to express his remorse for being so insensitive for asking the question. Smith suggests that team now do a better job of making sure similar situations don't come up in the future.
"We need to make sure the men of this league are treated as businessmen,” Smith said in a statement. "During interviews, our players and prospective players should never be subjected to discrimination or degradation stemming from the biases or misconceptions held by team personnel. NFL teams cannot have the free reign to ask questions during the interview process which can be categorized as stereotyping or which may bring a personal insult to any player as a man. For the past year, active, former and incoming players have heard me speak about the expectations we have of them as members of this union, their teams, communities and families. It is equally true that the same kind of respect is demanded of their employers.”
Ireland offered his apology yesterday, calling Bryant and issuing a statement later in the day.
"My job is to find out as much information as possible about a player that I'm considering drafting," Ireland said. "Sometimes that leads to asking in-depth questions. Having said that, I talked to Dez Bryant and told him I used poor judgment in one of the questions I asked him. I certainly meant no disrespect and apologized to him."
The issue came to light in a Yahoo! story in which Bryant told writer Michael Silver about the question.
"They asked me if my mom's a prostitute," Bryant told Yahoo.com. "No, my mom is not a prostitute. I got mad — really mad — but I didn't show it. I got a lot of questions like that: Does she still do drugs? I sat and answered all of them."
According to Yahoo, Bryant's mother, Angela, had him when she was 15 and conceived his younger sister and brother within the next three years. She reportedly sold drugs and served a prison term while Bryant was a child.
If I might be so bold as to suggest a remedy here: The NFL, in concert with the NFLPA, should consider adopting a mechanism where a player, or his agent, can report any behavior that is considered inappropriate by team executives during the pre-draft evaluation process.
The NFL can then investigate the claims and, if it finds wrongdoing, can sanction a team for conduct that is considered unacceptable.
It's understandable that teams want to find out as much as possible about a player they are considering, and thorough interviews are part of that process. But if the questioning goes beyond the bounds of decency, then the players ought to have some redress.