SIGNING WAS A BONUS
In the days leading to the draft, some teams were already worrying about getting first-round picks signed and into training camp on time. One team that had one of the first 10 choices said it had eliminated University of Miami defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy from consideration because his agent, Robert Fraley, was likely to keep him out of camp in a lengthy contract negotiation. The Bears, who picked sixth, tried something novel. They began negotiations with their top five candidates—all defensive players-five days before the draft. They reached agreement with two of them. They drafted one, safety Mark Carrier of Southern Cal, and signed him on Sunday.
Carrier's contract—for more than $3.5 million over five years—is not as lucrative as that of last year's sixth pick, linebacker Broderick Thomas of Tampa Bay, who signed a five-year, $4.25 million deal. Still, coming to terms early with Chicago made sense for Carrier, because if the Bears had not selected him, he might not have gone until the second round.
PAY ATTENTION, JUNIOR
Eleven of the 38 juniors admitted to the draft went in the first two rounds, but only seven were taken in the last 10 rounds, leading to two conclusions: 1) The best players will always be picked high, whether or not they're seniors, and 2) this is a very risky business for marginal juniors. "We weren't interested in sending messages [to juniors]," says Cleveland vice-president Ernie Accorsi, "but what I think the draft says is if you're not a very good player, you're going to ruin your educational future. What it shows is it's a hell of a gamble."
Leaving school early paid off for the five juniors who were among the first seven players drafted, including Seau, who gets the Honest Man of the Year Award. When Seau was asked what his biggest adjustment to the pros would be, he said, "The money. I can't grasp a million dollars." You can now, Junior.
Falcon coach Jerry Glanville received a tour jacket in the mail from John Cougar Mellencamp. Glanville lip-synched backup vocals to Mellencamp's Rain on the Scarecrow at the Farm Aid IV concert in Indianapolis recently. "When I was standing on stage with John Cougar Mellencamp and Kris Kristofferson, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven," Glanville says....
The day after the Colts traded for hometown quarterback Jeff George, a TV station in Indianapolis asked viewers if they approved of the deal. This was the same as Bernie Kosar coming home to Cleveland, wasn't it? Apparently not. Nearly 12,000 people responded, and 87% said they didn't like the trade....
Let history note that agent Leigh Steinberg and Indianapolis general manager Jim Irsay negotiated part of George's contract while they were buying five triple cheeseburgers, five large orders of fries and five large chocolate shakes for themselves and their colleagues in the negotiating room. "It was fun to do the deal in such a short time," says Steinberg of the negotiations that were completed within 14 hours over two days. "At one point I said to Jimmy, 'This is like listening to Light My Fire by the Doors. You can listen to the short version or the long version.' He took the short version."