Mallett tries to elude drug-use questions

Ryan Mallett didn't do his public image any favors by avoiding questions about rumors of drug use.

Ryan Mallett proved more elusive behind the media podium Saturday than he was behind Arkansas' offensive line.

Facing fresh rumors of possible drug use that arose earlier this week, Mallett was quick to go on the offensive when the media rushed at him with the first question.

"First one, huh? No, I'm not going to talk about that right now. I've got interviews with the teams, and what teams need to know, they need to know," Mallett said. "I'm going to leave it at that."

But the media wasn't going to let a potential first-round quarterback escape so quickly. Neither would NFL teams thinking about making an investment in him that would likely reach into the tens of millions.

Tony Softli, a former high-ranking personnel evaluator for the St. Louis Rams and Carolina Panthers and now a St. Louis radio personality, reported this week that "heavy rumors of drug use and possible addiction" kept Mallett out of the 2010 draft.

So what is he telling NFL teams that might have character concerns about him?

"I would say I'm a great person. I would also tell them to ask the coaches and the people I've worked with before," Mallett said. "And if you don't know about my character, ask them and they can tell you."

If his Indianapolis interview speaks to his ability to handle scrutiny, it didn't go over well, especially when he downplayed the rumors without actually denying them or giving them any sort of context.

"When I saw that, I laugh about it. You can't control it, though," Mallett said.

Amazingly, Mallett said the rumors didn't even bother him.

"They can keep circulating or whatever, but I can't control them," Mallett said. "I don't even want to talk about them because there's nothing I can even talk about it.

"I mean obviously somebody did it for a reason, right before the Combine, right before the draft. That's the last I'm going to talk about that, though."

Actually, it wasn't. The questions persisted without him giving further context or any denials.

"Like I said, I'm not going to talk about it right now. I talked about it with teams. We've discussed it and everything is good."

Except with his public image, which took one more Saturday afternoon hit.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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