Bernstein: Tips For NFL ‘Tattoo Scouts’
By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) The murder arrest of Aaron Hernandez has created a new job at the NFL scouting combine.
With the news that Hernandez’s myriad tattoos were being examined by police experts for evidence of gang affiliation — to better control potential exposure to angry rivals within the prison population – pro football teams are reportedly taking notice.
One idea that has surfaced is to hire similarly-informed specialists to examine the body art of an entire incoming draft class, looking them over for indications of both past ties that could haunt them and current relationships that might increase the likelihood of the team’s name appearing in ugly headlines.
It’s profiling, of course, but all in the name of risk management for lucrative private business.
We’ll leave alone some obvious questions, like: why would anyone in a criminal enterprise choose to mark himself as such, permanently, on his own skin? Isn’t that the opposite of what a good criminal should want to do, if he’s trying to get away with something? Wouldn’t that be like a terrorist flaunting an al Qaeda tat on his neck, Jerry Sandusky sporting a colorful Tickle Monster, or Bernie Madoff having “PONZI LYFE” proudly on his chest?
But we will provide these handy scouting tips to NFL franchises availing themselves of this new way of weeding out troublemakers, noting some ink that deserves special attention:
— Barbed-wire arm-band around upper biceps. This is a clear indication that the player is white, already reason enough for some teams to stay away due to the increased probability that he is slow and bad.
— College logo. Be curious why the player would want to show permanent devotion to the university he attended for as little time as possible before declaring for the draft. He has not even seen most of the campus, and when asked, doesn’t even know if that guy in that funny hat is a Trojan, a Spartan or a Warrior.
— Random Asian characters. The guy at that place in Tijuana told him it was Mandarin for “Graceful strength,” but it’s actually Japanese for “Thank you happiness scrotum.” Could also be problems with the Yakuza, and you don’t mess with those guys.
— A bible passage on his back. If it’s so “inspirational” as he claims, why put it someplace where it’s impossible for him to read? Is the inspiration value multiplied by looking at it backwards in a mirror, perhaps?
— A full portrait of an apparent family member. Tread lightly when asking questions about this one, because poor craftsmanship can lead to ambiguity. Could be mom, could be Grandpa Joe, since they both wore those glasses with the big frames. Actually, from a different angle it looks more like a post-stroke Harry Caray. Or Alan Greenspan? Best not to ask.
— Anything like “Greatest of All Time.” This is almost certainly not true and is a warning sign for an outsized ego, unless the player is Wayne Gretzky or Babe Ruth. And it is possible he is indeed the best at something other than football, like maybe Galaga or square-dancing or cleanly flipping an omelet, or he’s the greatest among a much smaller group of people than is specified by the quote.
— Fist clutching a wad of hundreds. This player will complain when his first game-check reflects deductions for federal and state taxes, and will wave his contract around, demanding to be paid in full. He will go to the bank to get all his cash each week, and will be bankrupt just months after his short career ends.
— Meaningless tribal markings. Envisioning himself an ancient fighter for the Mayans, Teutonic Knights, Celts or Masai, he is instead a full-blooded descendant of the illustrious, fearsome tribe of Carla and Marty Thompson of Overland Park, Kansas — a dental hygienist and office equipment sales manager, respectively.
— Giant, unflattering, full-chest Jesus face. Because, really. If he were the son of god, there’s no way he would have looked that much like that hideous amalgam of Daniel Carcillo, Adam Morrison, Joakim Noah and Chris Cornell.
— Ex-girlfriend’s name. There’s a good chance you’ll need to remember “Brayndee,” since she’ll be the one setting fire to his car in the lot at training camp, or holding up a hand-scrawled sign outside the county courthouse detailing missed child-support payments.
— A well-known quotation with a typo. Anyone displaying “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thig,” “John 3:61,” or “Carp Diem” will not get past the playbook’s table of contents before raising his hand with questions.
— Cat’s-paw prints on upper chest. Player is actually rapper Eve, and not a draftable talent.
Thank me later, NFL general managers.
Dan Bernstein joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995, and has been the co-host of Boers and Bernstein since 1999. Read more of Bernstein’s columns, or follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein.
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