But now it appears that Oher is also the subject of some of the most ridiculous over-thinking in this year's draft, with NFL teams somehow under the impression that his rough background is an indictment of his character.
Peter King of Sports Illustrated is at the annual NFL meetings in Dana Point, California, and based on his conversations with various team executives, he wrote the following:
If those fears existed, I'm glad Oher is beginning to allay them. But the fact that those fears existed in the first place is absurd.
News Item: Michael Oher is beginning to allay the fears of teams that big money would ruin him.
The Mississippi tackle is probably the second- or third-most athletic tackle in this draft, and the book among some teams after the Scouting Combine was big money in the first round would ruin him, because of his well-publicized upbringing on the poor side of Memphis. But Oher has impressed teams with his maturity and intelligence, and the fact is, he was adopted by an upper-class family in Memphis during his high-school years.
Some teams left the combine with the impression that Oher, after a tough childhood, would be so overwhelmed by the money it might sap his desire to be great, as it did with several recent high picks (like Mike Williams the tackle and Mike Williams the wide receiver). Now that teams are investigating Oher more thoroughly, they're finding a more grounded kid than they'd previously thought. Oher is scheduled to visit the Bengals, who pick sixth in the first round, and it's not a reach to think he could go in the top six or eight.
Is that really how NFL teams think? That because a guy had a rough upbringing, making millions of dollars is going to turn him into a bad football player or a bad person? Couldn't that rough upbringing just as easily drive him to work harder? And how offensive is it that having been adopted by an upper-class family is somehow supposed to make it safe to draft him?
Furthermore, King mentions Mike Williams the wide receiver, who was a star at USC but a bust with the Detroit Lions, even though he doesn't seem to realize how similar Oher's upbringing is to that of Williams. Like Oher, Wililams barely knew his biological parents and was taken in by a wealthy family when he was an adolescent. If you're looking for another player whose life experience mirrors that of Oher, you couldn't find a player with a more similar past than Mike Williams the wide receiver.
But, again, so what? We can point to people like Williams who were NFL busts, or we can point to people like Warrick Dunn, who has had a stellar NFL career and used his difficult past (raised by a single mother who was murdered when he was a teenager) to motivate him to succeed. The point is that Oher is not either one of those people. He's his own man and should be judged on his character, not on the aspects of his childhood that were far beyond his control.
All potential draft picks have to be scrutinized. It's reasonable for NFL teams to question how a player will respond to becoming rich and famous. But the notion that Oher somehow deserves more scrutiny than any other draft prospect is silly.