Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - In any dispute, there are two sides to
the story and the truth, which inevitably lies somewhere in between.
Josh Freeman was regarded as one of the top young quarterbacks in all of
football as late as 2012 before Greg Schiano and Leslie Frazier proved to be
the most powerful tag-team since the Road Warriors while taking turns
destroying the 26-year-old's reputation.
If that sounds like a defense of Freeman, so be it, but understand it's a half-
hearted one. The Kansas State product, who entered the NFL as the 17th overall
pick in the 2009 draft, also deserves plenty of culpability in his own
The truth here is that Freeman is neither the coach-killer some portray him as
nor the victim others do.
Mother Teresa might have a tough time getting along with the ill-tempered
Schiano, but Frazier would be at the top of any list for most likeable
personalities in the game.
It was easy for Freeman's camp to label Schiano's accusations of a laissez-
faire work ethic and poor leadership skills in Tampa as the manifestations of
a deranged coach on a power trip. The fact that Frazier also believed that of
Freeman in Minnesota, however, speaks volumes.
And, in the end, the "leaking" of Freeman's inclusion in an NFL drug program
by someone in the Tampa Bay organization -- while undeniably dirty pool --
also turned out to be true.
In a statement at the time, Freeman claimed he has never tested positive for
any illegal drugs but was forced to admit taking medication for ADHD and said
that he accidentally took Ritalin instead of Adderrall, which triggered a
As a result of the test, Freeman was placed in Stage 1 of the league's drug
program and is now subject to frequent drug tests.
We now know, by any objective measurement, both Schiano and Frazier proved
to be poor NFL head coaches, and each was dismissed from their job after the
Schiano remains unemployed while Frazier landed in Tampa as the defensive
coordinator for long-time friend Lovie Smith. Freeman, meanwhile, is an
afterthought on a free agent quarterback market shallower than your average
In fact, if you are wondering why draft experts believe three signal callers
who admittedly aren't top-five level prospects -- Teddy Bridgewater, Blake
Bortles and Johnny Manziel -- could wind up being in that rarified air come
May, look no further than the list of potential free agents.
The soon-to-be 34-year-old Michael Vick is the "top talent" set to be stocked
on the shelves come March 11 with the steady if unspectacular Matt Cassel, and
veteran backup Josh McCown taking place and show honors, respectively.
It would have been laughable to even suggest the Freeman of 2012 would hit the
free agent market without the cumbersome franchise tag attached, and the
Freeman of 2014 -- even with all the warts -- is the only real option with a
chance to rise above stop-gap status.
Remember this is a player who threw 25 touchdown passes and only six
interceptions in 2010. Two years later, Freeman tossed for 4,065 yards and 27
touchdowns, a ceiling most quarterbacks in the NFL can't even see, never mind
"I know he is a big quarterback with a strong arm that can do a lot of good
things at all levels of the field," Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said
when he signed Freeman.
So what's happened since Spielman spoke so glowingly of Freeman last October?
One Monday night stinker at the New York Giants in which the young QB was
inserted into a game after all of four practices with his new team and threw 33
often-ugly incompletions which made Steve Blass and Rick Ankiel look like
Some Freeman apologists even speculated that Frazier, who never really wanted
Freeman in Minneapolis, threw his new cadence caller to the wolves to prove a
point and expose the man who ultimately fired him -- Spielman.
To most that's a bit much. Frazier remains as classy as it gets as a person
and while it's now clear he had no interest in taking on a player he didn't
believe could help him at the time, it's a very big stretch to then make the
leap to the point where the ex-Vikings mentor was actively trying to derail
Freeman's chances with the team.
After all, Frazier was coaching for his job by that point.
It's now time for Freeman to stop pointing fingers and take personal inventory
because the blame game he and his camp have been trying to sell is exactly
what is hampering his reputation around the league.
If the alarm ever does go off, however, and Freeman takes ownership of his
role in this drama, all of a sudden the malcontent on the back-burner is back
in play as the ultimate low-risk, high-reward signing at the game's most
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