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This morning, I had breakfast with former Browns GM Ray Farmer, who’ll be speaking at our seventh annual ITL Seminar tonight. What I expected to be a 30-minute meeting turned into about two hours. It’s always fascinating to talk to someone who’s (a) been on the inside of the NFL and (b) is articulate, intelligent and insightful, as Ray is.

In the course of our conversation, we got to talking about how teams gauge character during the evaluation process. He said some things that I thought were very interesting, and that give you a good preview on the kind of things he’ll be talking about tonight (Room 144, Indiana Convention Center, and free for ITL clients).

Ray said that if you’re dealing with a player who’s a major character risk, there are two things you must do. No. 1, you must have someone who can be his confidante/manager. You have to find someone, either on the team or from his family or from his hometown or already on the team, who takes responsibility for him getting to meetings on time, or keeping him out of the headlines, or otherwise keeping his nose clean. The model for this is Randy Moss and his brother, Eric, whom the Vikings kept on the roster during Moss’ early days just to make sure he stayed on course.

No. 2, if you’re going to take a character risk, you have to do it with a player from another ‘strata’ of the team. In other words, if he’s a cornerback, you only take him if your other DBs are good citizens. If he’s a QB, you make sure your other passers are strait-laced. If he’s a rookie, make sure he’s the only rookie in that situation. If he’s from Ohio State, make sure your other Buckeyes are good guys. In other words, don’t take a chance on making waves that could rock the team.

He closed with this thought. If you’re an NFL team, you’ve got dozens of players on the team who are questionable, character-wise. Every single team is standing on the edge, blindfolded, hoping they don’t take a false step. One false move, and the could be headed into the abyss. It’s just the reality of the game. No team is safe.

Anyway, I thought this was good stuff, and a good indication of what to expect tonight. Are you in town? Interested in hearing info you won’t hear anywhere else? Come on down. But make sure you’re an ITL client first.