Was Mays Misled?

Some of our favorite moments of the recent National Football League draft occurred during the second day and the second round.

My favorite moments of the recent National Football League draft occurred during the second day and the second round.

Former USC coach Pete Carroll had selected safety Earl Thomas of Texas on the first round instead of Taylor Mays, the ``stud'' Pete had touted for four years while both were with the Trojans.

Mays obviously was infuriated that his old coach had stiffed him.

Said Mays: ``I felt he (Carroll) told me the complete opposite of the actions that he took, which was definitely alarming. I understand that it's a business, but with it being a business, you just need to be honest and that's all I was asking for.''

ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi, a 13-year veteran of the NFL, hurried to educate Mays on the word ``honesty.''

``There are two kinds of honesty,'' said Bruschi. ``There's honesty and then there's NFL honesty.'' Left unsaid was the direct assertion that the NFL is filled with liars and the best advice a young player entering the league can receive is, ``Don't believe a damned thing anyone tells you in this league.''

It's quite obvious Carroll assured Mays he would take care of him on draft day, although there's no proof of that. But it was not unreasonable for Mays to believe that Carroll would draft him, given all the glowing things his USC coach had said about him for four years.

Herm Edwards, a former NFL coach with the New York Jets and Kansas City, added a little humor to what Bruschi said, pointing out that San Francisco, the team that drafted the USC safety in the second round, would be playing Carroll's Seattle Seahawks twice during the 2010 season.

``If I were Pete Carroll, I wouldn't be standing too close to the sideline during those games,'' Edwards said with a laugh.

And a Southland high school coach, who shall remain nameless here, added later in the day: ``I don't know if they'll still be calling him St. Pete at SC.''

I've discussed the Mays situation with veterans of the NFL coaching and playing ranks, and opinions are mixed.

``I don't think he (Mays) was a first-rounder, so I don't think he has much of a beef,'' said one of the contacts. ``But I do believe Mays was played out of position for four years, and that is Carroll's fault. Mays should have been closer to the line, probably as a blitzing linebacker, or, maybe beefed up as a defensive end. He has terrific speed and hits tremendously hard. Too bad.''

Another said: ``He (Carroll) encouraged Reggie Bush to leave after his junior season but didn't do the same for Mays, when Mays was a hot commodity.''

Over the years, I've written little about Carroll that wasn't praise, but, on this one, I believe he deserves all the hits he receives. As a history buff, I swear that the first thing that entered my mind when Carroll picked Thomas over Mays was an historic event.

In July of 1940, Hitler's German army was over-running France, and the French were preparing to negotiate surrender terms. To everyone's shock, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini declared war on France and Great Britain, apparently hoping to get a slice of the pie.

American President Franklin D. Roosevelt reacted with fury. Said Roosevelt in a radio address I can still recall, ``The hand that held the dagger has struck it into the back of its neighbor.''

There are probably many among you who were shocked that the Trojans didn't have a first-round choice in the NFL draft, and that UCLA had a player (defensive lineman Brian Price) taken before anyone from USC.

If you look back to the recruiting class of 2006, the one from which 2010 seniors came, you would have expected this draft to be more productive for the Trojans.

The 2006 class was ranked No. 1 in the nation by Scout.com and contained eight players with five-star rankings, the highest given. They were: Stafon Johnson, C.J. Gable, David Ausberry, Allen Bradford, Josh Tatum, Antwine Perez and Taylor Mays.

Perez and Tatum left for other schools and it's obvious some of the others didn't deserve such glowing ratings. Nevertheless, this was a draft class that didn't meet expectations.

Neither, I might add, did its old coach.


USCFootball.com Top Stories