The New Ryan Mathews: All Business

Chris EggemeyerCorrespondent IJuly 26, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28: Running back Ryan Mathews of Fresno State runs during the NFL Scouting Combine presented by Under Armour at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Scott Boehm/Getty Images

Maybe Nick Saban was just defending his own.

Or maybe he was hitting the tip of an iceberg. Some massive force that, contrary to its comparative object, is not slowly melting away.

In any case, the latest twist in San Diego’s offseason plotline is Ryan Mathews's recent statement to the San Diego Union Tribune, where he seems to be placing money above football. Or the forked tongue of his agent, Frank Bauer, has finally swayed the young standout.

Now, when it comes to seasoned NFL players, this is nothing new. Contract disputes and holdouts are a regular feature of the typical offseason. This even happens with some of the high first round draft picks (see Michael Crabtree in 2009).

The usual case, though, is that rookies enter the NFL with an innocent eagerness to get out on the field and make a name for themselves. Consequently, more often than not, they willingly accept the deals put together for them. The landscape is changing a bit now considering the massive contracts being awarded to fresh draft picks, but this is more or less the case in most scenarios.

Ryan Mathews was one of these players. Mathews garnered a lot of talk leading up to draft day in April, and for good reason. He was fantastic at Fresno State, and he had a lot of scouts thinking Offensive Rookie of the Year potential. Things only got better, especially for San Diego fans, when Mathews raved about his interest in playing for the Chargers.

Mathews grew up a Chargers fan. He wore No. 21 in college to honor the legendary LaDainian Tomlinson. He talked more about his interest in the Chargers than anything else in the weeks leading up to the draft.

When he was called up by San Diego at number 12, he couldn’t have been happier, and has spent the two months since then talking about how excited he is to come out and try to bring San Diego’s running game back to form.

Then something changed.

It seems like Mathews finally caved in to the silver tongue of his agent Frank Bauer, who has undoubtedly been convincing Ryan that he is worth a home run contract since April 22.

There’s no denying that Mathews is worth a sizable contract. If he can produce like he did in college, he is looking at falling right into place with LT in the history books. That’s not the point here.

The point here is that Mathews has been...corrupted. There is no better word to describe it.

Mathews vowed not to hold out into training camp earlier this month .

Yet here we are, the day training camp begins for the Chargers, and Mathews not only remains unsigned, but is throwing around words like this: “It’s also a business. That’s what I have to realize. I want to be on time. Hopefully, that happens. If not, there’s nothing I can do.”

As of now it is hard to tell how this will affect Mathews as a player, but it has definitely shaken a lot of people. It is still expected that he will report, but only time will tell.

Perhaps these incidents should start to seem more like red flags to the NFL. Ultimately it’s hard to imagine any kind of move by the League to change the workings of this process, but it may be time for Roger Goodell to at least speak out against what can only be described as the corruption of rookie players entering the NFL.