Packers decided to overlook draftees’ arrests

GREEN BAY, Wis. — John Schneider once came across an NFL draft prospect’s online profile photo in which the player was pictured with a pile of cocaine and several guns. The former Green Bay Packers executive and current Seattle Seahawks general manager marked that down as a red flag for obvious reasons.

This is not that. On a scale of foolish things a college football player could do, these incidents rank fairly low. But of the 11 new players on Green Bay’s roster following the draft, two of them have been arrested. These weren’t felonies, drug-related offenses or violent acts, but it does seem to contradict the team’s philosophy that typically focuses on bringing in players of the strongest character who have had no off-the-field issues.

“We go through all that and we try to sort out the things that are something of a problem and other things that are maybe more like a college kid stubbing their toe,” Packers general manager Ted Thompson said.

It’s all part of the process when Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy are trying to add ‘Packer People’ to the team.

“Things can happen,” Thompson said. “We do like for our guys to be of a certain character and that sort of thing, and we try our best to make sure that’s the case. We look through a lot of different records and a lot of different things leading up to the draft. That’s been going on since last May.”

Even with those thorough checks, Thompson and McCarthy signed off on drafting cornerback Micah Hyde in the fifth round and linebacker Sam Barrington in the seventh round.

During Iowa’s bye week last season, Hyde was arrested and charged with public intoxication and interfering with an official act for running from police.

“I was definitely asked about that by a majority of the teams,” Hyde said after being selected by Green Bay. “I explained it to them. I made a stupid mistake. They all questioned me about it. They wanted know every single detail. I let them know.

“It’s still ongoing. My court date is still coming up. I’m confident I can battle through it. I just learned a life lesson with the whole thing, especially dealing with the media. I learned a life lesson and now I’m just going to go from there.”

Hyde’s draft profile on ESPN marked his intangibles as ‘below average,’ mainly because of that arrest. Aside from that, Hyde checks out well, including being an Honor Roll student all throughout college and being on the Leadership Group as a junior and as a senior. Those positives may have helped the Packers overlook his one toe-stubbing type of moment.

“It’s something that goes on in Iowa City a lot,” Hyde said. “There’s not a huge crime rate or anything else so they get a lot of people and charge them with public intoxication.  A lot of teams understand that. It’s not an excuse but I just made a horrible decision that night. And, like I said, I’m going to learn from it and move on.”

Apparently it does happen with some frequency, because public intoxication was the same charge that current Packers linebacker Dezman Moses was arrested for in 2008 while attending Iowa. Moses later transferred to Tulane and was not selected in the NFL Draft in 2012, in part due to his arrest.

Barrington was arrested four times while playing at the University of South Florida, each time for driving with a revoked or suspended license. He spent brief time in jail in 2010 because of repeated charges and was suspended for one game as a senior. Barrington’s legal issues began when he failed to set up a court date for unpaid parking tickets.

“It was just a matter of not taking care of something that should have been taken care of at that time,” Barrington said soon after the Packers drafted him. “Letting tickets go untaken care of and it definitely led to bigger problems, bigger issues. I suffered from it both socially and financially. Having to hire different attorneys to get the ticket situation squared away. I’m proud to say my license is under a valid state now and I am a better person because of that situation.

“I just hope I get the opportunity to prove that I am a better person to the Green Bay franchise.”

As with any player’s arrest record, Barrington was asked about it by the Packers and other teams he talked with.

“They want to know every detail,” Barrington said. “I think the most important thing was to be honest and upfront. And not only be honest with the teams but be honest with yourself about how you allowed yourself to get into the situation. What I know is I answered all questions as honest as possible. When I was asked about it, I answered them and then most people just moved on from it.”

Like Hyde, Barrington’s intangibles were rated as ‘below average’ by ESPN on his draft profile.

Thompson and McCarthy have also brought defensive lineman Johnny Jolly back to the team this offseason. Jolly was reinstated by the NFL in February, three years after the league suspended him indefinitely following multiple drug-related arrests. Jolly served six months in a Texas prison, as well.

The Packers, like the majority of NFL teams, are very cautious about their players’ conduct away from the field. Jolly’s legal situation was quite severe and his future in Green Bay is still a bit of a question mark. The college arrest records of Hyde and Barrington, however, weren’t a big enough concern for Thompson and McCarthy to hesitate in adding them to the team’s locker room.

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